Royal Exchange Theatre (2012 – 2014)
In January 2012 the Royal Exchange Theatre embarked on an innovative three year partnership with the New Charter Housing Trust Group and its Academy in Ashton-under-Lyne. The partnership was designed to explore approaches to creating sustainable cultural change in the neighbourhood, and aimed to break down the barriers between concepts of ‘school’ and ‘community’ and to find ways of making work collectively.
As Project Manager for the partnership, I oversaw the delivery of all activity throughout the three years, including:
WELCOME TO OUR SPACE: A visitor experience tour of the Theatre, created by New Charter Academy students and designed to introduce family, friends and community representatives to the Royal Exchange Theatre.
OUR PALS: A response to the Royal Exchange production of Peter Whelan’s THE ACCRINGTON PALS exploring ideas of community and community spirit, including a photography exhibition by Academy students and a modern day drama written by community members and performed by professional actors.
HOW DOES YOUR GARDEN GROW: A gardening project with a difference which brought together members of the local community and Academy students in a range of creative gardening-themed activities led by professional artists, both in the Academy and out in the community.
BEHIND THE SCENES WORK WEEK: An exciting opportunity for 15 New Charter tenants and Academy students to spend a week observing, learning from and working with professionals from behind the scenes at the Royal Exchange to develop practical transferable skills and knowledge to improve future employment prospects.
The final partnership project was EVERYDAY HEROES – an outdoor site-specific theatre event which took an audience of residents and community members on an evening storytelling walk around a local Crescent which told the stories of Ashton-under-Lyne’s ‘everyday heroes’. Performed by community members with brass bands, line dancing, disco and a street party vibe, the piece took place in gardens, on top of cars and along the street itself. The event ended with the chance to sing a few favourites on karaoke, before a fire installation, lit by community members, illuminated the sky. The project engaged over 70 residents as participants and volunteers, and was attended by an audience of over 300 from the local community. EVERYDAY HEROES was directed by Evie Manning and produced in partnership with Chol Theatre and pa_Boom.
The partnership was supported by a research based framework developed in collaboration with Manchester University.