2022 in review…

It’s been another crazy, but wonderful year at Chol. Here we reflect on some of the highlights of 2022… 

We started the year with some fantastic news – we had received a funding offer from Paul Hamlyn Foundation to continue our caring and creative work in schools across Yorkshire until 2025. As well as this, in 2021 we had already begun to set foundations for Listen 52 in Sheffield. The beginning of 2022 meant it was time to get started with the many strands that made up the full Listen 52 project. 

In March we were delighted to unveil our large-scale mobile Windrush Mural in Kirklees, a culmination of a six-month Windrush Generation project, presented in collaboration with Milton Brown of Kirklees Local Television (KLTV) and artist Natasha Clarke. This project explored the lives and shared experiences of Kirklees’ Windrush Generation, highlighting the vibrance and energy that the Windrush Generation has brought to Huddersfield. 

The Windrush Mural by Natasha Clarke

Later in March we presented An Irish Welcomea play celebrating stories from the Irish community in Huddersfield using testimonies and recorded interviews, and featuring a community cast. The sold-out performance showcased the Irish community’s history, and explored their experiences of arriving and living in Huddersfield. 

Alongside the Windrush Mural and An Irish Welcome, Spring saw creativity in many forms happening in schools and education settings – with co-director Vicky teaching a Drama and Education module at The University of Manchester (now in its fifth year) and the regular Imaginary Communities work ongoing in schools. 

An Irish Welcome, March 2022

And our Young Producers continued to work collaboratively for Listen 52, working on a number of mini-residencies including podcasts, surveys, theatre and film in readiness for the final performance in July, exploring further young people’s hopes and fears about what their world will be like, thirty years from now.

Early July saw the annual Our Biennale produced by Children’s Art School. We were delighted to be production partners, creating a flash mob with schools and working behind-the-scenes with Young Producers on the running and logistics of this annual festival of arts and culture, created with children, for children. 

July finished with the Listen 52 project final performance at Site Gallery in the centre of Sheffield, part of the Freshly Squeezed Weekender. This was a culmination of six months of hard work, exploration and research. The performance invited the audience to witness a significant glitch that could change not only the future, but also the past 30 years for Sheffield’s youth. The event was a success and a credit to those involved. You can read about the Listen 52 project in full here.

Our summer was packed with fun and creativity for young people. From our summer sessions at Woodlaithes, to the Maker World Kirklees summer workshops and the Gadgeteers Library of Dreams, we were so excited to be able to provide free, creative sessions during the summer holidays in our Cholavan. 

Also in the summer we were delighted to produce Three Pounds in My Pocket, a piece inspired by local stories collected by Let’s Go Yorkshire, and performed on 21 August in St Georges Square, Huddersfield, as part of The White Line, a bigger celebratory event, marking the 75th anniversary of the independence of India and Pakistan. The event was funded by High Street Heritage Action Zones (HSHAZ), a heritage-led regeneration initiative led by Historic England. Three Pounds in my Pocket was a fusion of poetry, music, dance and storytelling, resulting in a vibrant and visual performance which took the audience on a journey through time. 

Three Pounds in My Pocket, part of the WHITE LINE Celebration, August 2022.

As we welcomed in the Autumn term, it was back to schools to share our Imaginary Communities approach, including the beginning of the Year 2 of our Empowering Voices Project. We had lots of fun trying to find the Eldon Street Beast in Barnsley and telling stories through interactive art to the young people of Stannington, at the Stannington Story Festival. 

We were very excited to begin our planning for future projects, at the inspiring Her Voice event with Chula education at the Arts Catalyst space in Sheffield, where we explored what it’s like to be female in this challenging world through creative workshops and discussion.

2022 ended on a high for us as we received the news that we were successful in our bid for Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) funding. We are over the moon to be included as one of the 276 new organisations that will receive a share of the £446 million investment. We will be sharing more information about our NPO strategy in early 2023. 

Now it’s time to say a huge thank you and happy 2023 to our friends, supporters, and partners – thank you for EVERYTHING you do. We would not be where we are without you. Also sending some very much deserved van-love to our Cholavan, which has been a HUGE, sturdy, much-needed presence throughout the year and been with us on most of the adventures mentioned above!

Our Cholavan and some of our amazing team at the Listen 52 final performance.

We’re very much looking forward to continuing our work in 2023, when we will be continuing to share our Imaginary Communities approach with schools and education settings, and working on a number of new, exciting projects for young people and adults. We look forward to sharing more information with you in the coming months.

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