What a fantastic, jam-packed year we have had here at Chol. We wanted to take this opportunity to reflect back on some of the highlights of 2021!
In January, we were delighted to announce that we smashed our fundraising target, raising over £15,000 for the Cholavan – our outreach mobile unit – made possible by generous donations from our wonderful friends and supporters. The Cholavan was a prominent feature within our summer programme, touring community locations in Kirklees.
After an incredible year, with so much achieved under challenging circumstances, Tall Shadows came to an end in April. The fantastic young people involved with the project since its inception in February 2020 developed many skills and insight around theatre, the arts, story making and performance. Using the skills acquired and working with Chol’s professional artists, these young people created an immersive online theatre experience discovering and reinventing Sheffield’s colourful past. ‘TimeCrashers’ took audiences on a unique virtual journey in Sheffield’s only time-travelling nightclub in an unforgettable night of dancing with the Gods, mingling with Mary Queen of Scots, partying with Picasso and restoring history to its rightful order. The event received glowing feedback from audience members, being described as ‘innovative,’ ‘thoughtful’ and ‘educational’, and one audience member described it as, ‘an amazing, very unique concept.’
The Summer was a very busy time for us, as we delivered summer workshops in collaboration with The Children’s Art School across Kirklees and researched and developed a brand new performance in Barnsley, Flock of Stories. Working with volunteers and members of the local community, we discovered stories affiliated to the mining communities surrounding the RSPB Old Moor reserve, recording oral history interviews as part of the project. These stories provided inspiration for the final performance that took place on Sunday 26 September on the RSPB site as part of their Heritage Open Day. We were thrilled to be joined by Anne Scargill and Betty Cook, who shared memories and experiences that were integral in the creation of the play’s protagonist Birdie, the woman finding her voice and proudly supporting her community in the Miners Strike of 1984.
In September, we were delighted to be involved in the Huddersfield High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) Cultural Programme Heritage Open Day. This three-year project aims to revitalise the Huddersfield high street through a range of capital regeneration, community, and cultural initiatives, supported by Historic England in partnership with Kirklees Council. Chol are leading the HSHAZ Consortium, which is made-up of diverse local groups, businesses, and community organisations with plans to deliver a programme of events and activities.
As the HSHAZ project develops, Chol is excited to be in the process of producing a performance for March 2022 and continue to explore through collaboration and creativity the many new and innovative ways people can continue to enjoy and discover Huddersfield’s High Street Heritage.
The Autumn also saw us launch our Kirklees Windrush Mural Project, A large, outdoor art piece commemorating the lives and the shared experiences of Kirklees’ Windrush Generation, funded by the government’s Windrush Day Grant Scheme. Members of the Chol team have been collaborating with artist Natasha Clarke Art and school pupils in workshops to develop the design of the mural.
We are very much looking forward to continuing our work in 2022, when we will be continuing to share our Imaginary Communities approach with schools (made possible with funding from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation), and we will be kicking off the Listen 52 project, a youth leadership and arts engagement project in Sheffield, just two of the many exciting projects taking place throughout the year. We look forward to sharing more information with you in the coming months.