CULTURE AND THE ROLE OF CIVIC ENGAGEMENT ACROSS THE IMAGINE PROJECT
Wednesday, 7 September 2016
Millennium Gallery, Arundel Gate, Sheffield, S1 2PP
The annual Imagine event was hosted by the cultural work package this year and consisted of exhibits and workshops from each work package on the theme of everyday culture and voice. Photos of the event can be seen below and were taken by Steve Pool. From the historical work package, Andrea Armstrong and Ben Kyneswood organised exhibits and two workshops:
Re-gilding the ghetto: pictures of life in North East England from the 1970s to the present day (Andrea Armstrong, Gary Craig, Yvonne Hall and Kath Smith) The aim of the workshop was to critically discuss and examine a range of arts and cultural artefacts from the 1970s to 2016. The starting point for the Imagine North East research was the National Community Development Project (CDP). The CDP was an experimental, anti-poverty initiative of the 1970s, funded by the Home Office and located in 12 areas. We focused on the two CDPs in the North East – Benwell (West End of Newcastle) and North Tyneside (located in North Shields). The CDPs conducted detailed research to uncover causes of unemployment, industrial decline, poor housing, poverty and inequality in the areas where they were located. They used the insights from research, and the knowledge and energies of local people, to mobilise radical community action around housing, jobs, welfare rights, play and many other issues. They used a range of arts/cultural activities in their campaigns to bring about change, including detailed and critical reports in a ‘readable journalistic’ style that included many photos, cartoons, newspaper cuttings etc. They also used film and theatre to engage people and raise awareness. The national CDP employed professional photographers to chronicle the areas in the 1970s and we have a selection of black and white photos taken by Ken Grint and Derek Smith. While starting with the past, Imagine North East also looked at the process of change over the past 40 years and the issues facing communities today in a climate of economic austerity and welfare cuts. Twelve community partners (from Benwell and North Shields) embarked on projects and used a variety of arts and cultural methods to explore the history, present and future of their neighbourhoods. In this workshop we heard presentations from Gary Craig (former Assistant Director, Benwell CDP in the 1970s) and Yvonne Hall (recently with Cedarwood Trust, N. Shields) and Kath Smith (Remembering the past, resourcing the future, N. Shields) They talked about the use of arts and culture during the time of Benwell CDP (Gary) and more recently as part of Imagine North East (Yvonne and Kath) in N. Shields. We then asked workshop participants to look at, compare and discuss pictures of life from the 1970s to 2016.
Photographic exhibition (Ben Kyneswood) Attendees were shown a series of photos of Coventry. Ben led the narrative about how the images fit together to tell a story and then asked participants to select two images. After discussing the images, participants were asked to write a narrative from the perspective of the people in the photo and sequence them with other photos to tell a story.