Wednesday 29 September 2010

Bright Space beyond creative partnerships

My workshed is coming on a pace now.  I've already spent a fair bit of time on it, and temptation is, in present economic climate, to spend a lot more time in there, head down and get on with work, while all the cuts hit.  Bright Space, the organisation I've worked with a fair bit, which 'promotes brighter futures for young people through arts and culture' is one of countless organisations in Birmingham under threat at the moment.

More than a decade ago, I started an organisation with a few friends, 'Birmingham Lives' - celebrating the lives of older people in Birmingham. At it's zenith, in 2003, I think we had a dozen members, including our cat, Poppy. I can't remember how many meetings we had - it wasn't many. Me and Poppy were the most regular attendees, but the existence of an 'organisation' opened up opportunities for funding, and, for a time, we did quite well.

The end of the Millennium was a good time for oral history based intergenerational projects. Carl Chinn opened our first exhibition, and shortly after began his own, much bigger, Birmingham Lives Archives. Chris Upton, academic, local historian and writer for Birmingham Post was fantastic in supporting our modest contribution to local history, and the more important work of valuing the lives of young and old in Birmingham, but as time went on, funding became harder to come by and people started to move on.

My first experience of Creative Partnerships in Birmingham, to become Bright Space in 2008, was an invite to Marie's house, the then creative director, for xmas meal 2004 with Nikki.  I remember having a long chat with Katy Aquaye-Tonge, and it was then I decided I'd start looking out for opportunities to work with CP.  In 2005 I worked with the Quinzone 'Associate CP' Cluster (Qunizone Action Zone is another org likely to disappear soon) and Birmingham archives on two projects - the Ballad of Baskerville with John H-D and 'Playground games' with Worlds End Infants, Graham Langley and John H-D.

Since then I had the best training experience ever with Vivien Hampson to become a creative agent, working under a number of talented creative directors - Rob Elkington, Lesley Green and now Deborah Kermode.  Being part of the 'family', supporting each other, we deliver some really exciting work with young people, sharing our experiences to make for a better future.  Working for Bright Space has been a life changing experience, for me personally, developing my practice and influencing the lives of other creative practitioners, teachers, and of course, young people.  We have, right now, one of the most extensive networks of teachers, creative practitioners, and others interested in working creatively with young people in the West Midlands.   We are highly experienced in delivery of a range of diverse creative activities.  We are best positioned to champion creativity in our region.

It would be easy to go our own ways, keep our heads down, get on with things - afterall, we all need to earn a living.  But if we don't get out there, promote the work we (Bright Space and all the other endangered creatives) are doing, stick together, share experiences, develop our community, what are we saying about the future for young people?

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