Last week, Market Place Creative Agent, Colin Stevens, ventured up north to Hull, to visit fellow CPP project 'Back to Ours'!
In this short blog post, Colin tells us about his visit and what we at Market Place can learn from them!
Last week I took a break from the rural flatlands of Fenland and headed to Hull for two days to meet fellow Creative People & Places team "Back to Ours" who, although working in a very different urban city environment, share our common goal of making the arts more accessible and available to communities who might not feel naturally drawn to theatre, music, dance and visual arts.
At Market Place we’re always aware of rural isolation being a major factor preventing people accessing the arts and events. Even if people want to engage with the arts the severe lack of affordable and reliable public transport makes it both difficult and expensive for many and the cumulative effect on mental health of feeling isolated and ‘out of reach’ is a difficult one to counter.
Hull’s team - Back To Ours - are dealing with a community on the edge of the large urban sprawl of the city who are also isolated but in other ways (Bus fares are similarly expensive though). Having been the city of Culture in 2017 there has been a resurgence in the arts and Hull Central has theatres, cinemas and music venues but they are outside the reach of many people’s wallets. The community find it difficult to access the town centre after 7pm and the only resource they have is the North Point Shopping Centre.
So the solution? Bring the arts to them and have them get creative. And set up an arts shop in an empty unit right at the entrance to the shopping centre - tapping into the fact that for many community members this is already their social meeting point. By treating the shopping centre as a venue (they also have music concerts in the main central area) Back to Ours have injected energy and a sense of the creative. Shopping may never be the same again....
Back to Ours chose to fill the half term holiday with a performance festival targeted at young children and their families. They chose to produce some surprising and challenging events for their largely first time audiences - asking young people “who has power over them?”, creating a new rule book for adults, plus a couple of Secret Gigs to start the week off, which had lots of people intrigued!
Seeing people surprised by the Back to Ours arts store and their genuine appreciation of the short piece of theatre performed four times a day made me think about where we could present creative and challenging events in our region? Could we explore bus depots? Train stations? Industrial units? Bus stops? Open fields or on the many rivers and drains that crisscross the landscape?
Ideas on a postcard please... (or email is fine!)