Alt Valley arts celebrated

An exhibition is being staged to celebrate creative work in the Alt Valley area

In 2009 Everyman and Playhouse with the Bluecoat, Cobalt Housing and Liverpool City Council created a unique partnership based in Alt Valley to understand local neighbourhood issues and use creative ways to address them.

Five years on, the success of this programme, and the people from the community it has given a creative platform to, are being celebrated with the exhibition at the Bluecoat highlighting just some of the projects Art Valley has created.

Since it began, Art Valley has created or supported 63 events, exhibitions or performances in the community, delivered 1,400 arts sessions and created more than 20,700 participant experiences for people from the Alt Valley area. Projects such as Chrysalis included over 30 groups to parade down the Ralla Loop Line in a unifying event that supported a community to reclaim the space with lantern puppets, artists, musicians and a choir.

In addition to the work done by arts facilitators based at the Everyman and Playhouse and the Bluecoat, Art Valley has brought 90 local and national artists and 13 international artists to work in the area while working in partnership with 85 community organisations, youth groups and schools.

Many of these partnership were established around the work with internationally renowned social movement AfroReggae who came to Liverpool for a four-week residency which engaged ‘at-risk’ young people in drumming and break dance with the Brazilian artists. Part of the legacy of this project is a children’s Samba band which was set up in Clubmoor and is now run by the partner schools.

Art Valley has established a number of projects that have instigated social change in the area. One of the most successful was the Pad Project Space in Norris Green which opened its doors to the community in June 2011 and what was an empty shop unit became a hive of creative youth and arts engagement. Responding to the interests of the people who used the space, a number of projects, aimed at contributing to the community and challenging people’s perceptions of the young people, were set up including stop-frame lego animation, extreme photography, aerial theatre, Christmas grotto, Titanic-themed construction and building bikes.

Councillor Barry Kushner said: “Art Valley has had some notable success working with children, young people and wider community. It has introduced young people to the arts the Everyman Playhouse and the Bluecoat. This work has supported us to transform the public spaces into a positive experience for local residents.”

Rebecca Ross-Williams, Director of Theatre and Community at  Everyman and Playhouse said: “Arts are undeniably a catalyst for social change and if you look at Art Valley and its work with anti-social behaviour, ‘at-risk’ young people and even in response to hate crime – the evidence is there.”

Mary Cloake, Chief Executive at the Bluecoat said: “Art Valley has helped us learn more about the role the arts can play in bringing together different groups. Creating art collaboratively is a powerful way to overcome mutual misunderstanding, which helps people to feel a stronger sense of community.”

Art Valley has also developed innovative models of practice which the Bluecoat and the Everyman and Playhouse will continue into the future. The Bluecoat’s Out of the Blue project, a radical response, following a hate crime incident, that brought children and learning-disabled adults together to form an arts club has been funded as a three-year project by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. From February 2014, five arts clubs involving up to 75 children and their families and 12 Blue Room members will meet in community venues provided by Liverpool City Council, including in Norris Green.

Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse will continue to work with NEET and ‘at risk’ young men to develop their practical and design skills in Creative Construction. An intensive programme whose ‘step-up’ construction skills involves design, carpentry and welding. Giving back to the community remains a priority in selecting projects. Each young man is supported with individual development and work experience plans to prepare them for further training for employment.

The true impact of Art Valley has been the increase in confidence and self-esteem it has given the participants and the opportunity for the members of the Alt Valley community to learn from world class inspiring artists and access the arts that would have been out of reach without the partnership created by Everyman and Playhouse, the Bluecoat, Cobalt Housing and Liverpool City Council.