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 Event Report: Creative Approaches to Local Issues.

On 30th March 2004, artists from across Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire


The hall
Spotlit tables in Hall.

showcased a wide range of different art forms & creative activities in the King's Hall, Stoke-on-Trent. Funded by Advantage West Midlands, the city-wide project Creative Approaches to Local Issues was designed to develop ways that local artists & local groups can creatively address local issues.

The free day-long event enabled the public to view work-in-progress, see documentary photography, to meet the artists & groups, and to try taster arts workshops.



The Mayor sees interactive-media art from the Townsend project. In the background, video-screens play part of the Bradeley project.

With funding from Advantage West Midlands, Stoke-on-Trent's Community Facilitation Team have been developing this project with the support of The Public, the City Council's Community Arts team, and Creative Stoke.

In each of 10 community forum areas, a pilot arts project has allowed a community to work with an artist to express an issue or theme, and then develop it through creative collaboration over several months.




Top: The Blurton & Longton South project, by artists Glassball and users of the Queensbury Centre, showcased a single large video-projection.
Bottom: Emily Clay demonstrating the interactive-media CD Teen Time made with Townsend Community House.


 

Each group & artist had an illuminated table in the King's Hall. Some showcased project work & outcomes. Some showed mainly photographs, others video-projections. Some featured interactive computer-based media they had made, while others offered workbooks, research & sketches. The ten projects were:

Bentilee & Townsend/Berryhill & Hanley East:
Emily Clay worked with a group of teenagers from Townsend Community House & Mitchell High School using digital media to create an interactive CD - Teen Time - exploring their views of local issues & profiling the activities within the Community House.

Trentham & Hanford:
Cultural Sisters worked on a lighting and lantern project to involve the whole community in a celebratory activity focused around Hanford Park. Workshops were undertaken with Priory Primary School, Trentham High School and Jigsaw.

Burslem North & Tunstall:
Torben Franck and Si Waites (Planet Sound) developed a series of workshops with local youth which culminated in a creative intervention in a local park - a temporary sculpture and sound installation which explores the attitudes of users to the park space.



Julia Foster shows a visitor the project CD.

Fenton & Longton North:
Julia Foster has explored intergenerational issues with local participants, including a group of Hindu & Sikh elders - the Om group in Fenton - and young people from Longton's CHAD Centre, offering a creative exchange of views.

Burslem South/Northwood & Birches Head:
Andy Biggs used photographic portraiture and text as part of creative consultation activities to raise the profile of Northwood Park and to generate public interest in establishing a Friends of Northwood Park group. Creative workshops took place at Northwood Infants School.



Visitors look at how Andy Biggs used free 'Portraits in the Park' portraiture as part of creative consultation activity to raise the profile of Northwood Park.

Blurton & Longton South:
Glassball have been working with users at Queensbury Centre in Longton on a video highlighting the centre's community activities and their impressions of the area.

Chell & Packmoor/Norton & Bradeley:
Mark Wood worked with children from Smallthorne Primary School and residents of Bradeley Village to create a series of night-time projections. The projections addressed the stereotypes that hinder the ability of old & young to work together for the good of the area.

East Valley and Abbey Green:
Emily Clay has worked on a mapping project to profile community activities with a number of local groups; including Blackfriars College, Holden Lane High School, Milton Youth and Adults Centre, Stoke North Live-at-Home project and Sutton Trust Community group. The result of this is an interactive CD to help raise aspirations, educate, inform and promote the area.



Mark Wood (centre) shows his portfolio of Hartshill Park research, maps & drawings.

Hanley West & Shelton/Hartshill & Penkhull:
Mark Wood worked with the Friends of Hartshill Park and local residents to explore and formulate ideas and visualisations for creative environmental improvements within the park.

Meir Park and Sandon/Weston & Meir North:
Cultural Sisters worked with local schools - The Grange & Weston Coyney Primary & Sandon High - the Community Network Group and local agencies, to hold a pre-Christmas lantern-procession and celebration that brought the various communities together, and for the first time gave "a sense of place" to one of the main road approaches to the Meir.

During the King's Hall day we were joined by four junior school classes, groups of people from several day-care centres, and members of a youth club. Workshops were led by Planet Sound (drumming), Cultural Sisters (willow & paper work), Grega Greaves (collage) & Chris Oldham.



Planet Sound drumming workshop for older children, upstairs.




Girls working at a Cultural Sisters workshop, making stars from woven willow, tissue paper & glitter.

Many Council officers and councillors visited, along with the public and community-groups. The city's elected Mayor, Mike Wolfe, dropped in at lunchtime.

Janet Gittins from the city's Community Facilitation Service said; "The event has been organised to bring together communities from across the city, to celebrate creative projects that have been happening over the past few months. Community Groups associated with each of the ten Community Networks across the city have had the opportunity to be creative in the way they address local issues."

Brendan Jackson, Project Director from The Public, said; "The project has been a great opportunity to share how creative approaches can help bring together local community groups and develop local artistic talent."




Elected Mayor Mike Wolfe dropped in at lunchtime - seen here admiring the detail in a Cultural Sisters "glittering frost" hat, with artist Emily Clay (right).

 
Project partners were:

The Public

Stoke-on-Trent's Community Arts Service

Stoke-on-Trent's Community Facilitation Service

Creative Stoke

The Participation & Voluntary Practice Unit, Staffordshire University.