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Bank Job, Walthamstow
Photograph: Bank Job

This east London art project is printing money to wipe out local debt

By Rosemary Waugh
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Last year, a genius art project took over an old Walthamstow bank and started printing its own money. Featuring local community heroes instead of the Queen, Bank Job’s artwork banknotes were sold for a total of £40,000. Half of that went to charity and the other half towards abolishing more than £1 million of high-interest debt in the community, which had been written down in value by being resold on the secondary market.

The UK economy is turbocharged by debt. It’s created by banks in the form of loans to people and companies, then sold and resold in the financial market. But while the banks get bailed out in times of crisis, it’s estimated that more than half a million Londoners are in problem debt – often as a result of taking out predatory payday loans. This project wants to tackle that.

And so Bank Job has big plans for 2020, including the release of a full-length documentary about debt. But now it’s been asked to leave the ex-bank it has run as a community space since 2018. Support the project by treating yourself to one of its artwork bonds or coins, or head to its website to find out how else you can help Bank Job stay on the high street and fight for economic justice – with art!

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