My Work

Here are a few examples of my work. Thanks for looking!

Desi Pubs

Partners: Art Council England, Council for Volutary Organisations, Midland Pub Association. 

Project description:

Desi Pubs is an extraordinary story of migration, survival, love and food. For over thirty years, the Black Country has been quietly incubating a boozy gastro revolution, the ‘Desi pub’. It’s an East meets West story, where the classic English pub with its ales, darts and dominos meets Punjabi food and Bhangra. Asian landlords have been salvaging the struggling pub trade in the area by reinventing failed pubs for new communities and have now redefined pub culture.

I developed this project to highlight this amazing untold story. Landlords Beera, Jinder, Jeet, Dal, Slack and Amrik and Lucky, opened their pub doors to thirteen artists and shared their personal life stories and experiences over a pint.

The artwork created over the two year long residencies is now permanently displayed at the pubs. Regulars helped shape bespoke creations which capture the heart and soul of each pub and their punters.  This project formed the feature exhibition of Alchemy Festival 2016 at Southbank, Royal Festival Hall (The worlds biggest South Asian Arts Festival outside India) and received international media attention including BBC Television, BBC World Service, Sky TV, ITV, The Guardian, The Economist and others.

Artworks include:

  • Stained glass windows depicting  the history on the Indian Workers Association
  • Beer mats with Sufi Poems
  • Lenticular
  • Traditional hand painted pub signs fusing North Indian Art and Punjabi script
  • Mosaics depicting the history of Bhangra dance
  • Photography, film and much much more

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Grondwork: Dances With Wolves (Sandwell and Walsall)

Partners: Arts Council Dice Productions, Fizzog Theatre

Aim: To creatively document  Creative Black Country’s Groundwork programme supporting grassroots community Arts in year 1 (2015)

Project Description:

As part of my role with Creative Black Country, I support a diverse range of community groups to develop and deliver their own arts activities for the first time. These ‘first steps’ are vital to developing a vibrant cultural ecosystem. This film is a snap shot of our work in 2015 and was made to celebrate our first year working with the groups.

‘Its been an amazing Journey. I’ve done things I’d never dreamed I’d do and I feel dead proud’ – Paullete, Walsall Black Sisters

Simmer Down

Partners: Art Council England, Perry Bar Arts Forum, Birmingham City Council

Aim: To provide a relevant, credible, engaging family arts festival in North Birmingham (Handsworth Park) linking arts organisations with low engagement audiences.

Project description:

Simmer Down is a free family music/arts festival held in Handsworth Park and rooted in the diverse communities of Birmingham. The programme uses Reggae as a hook for audiences to experience the diverse range of cultural activity in the region, including music, dance, visual art, workshops and outreach. Simmer Down connects with ‘hard-to-reach’ audiences with attendance growing from 2000 to 6000 between 2010 -2013. It was my role to deliver the festival in 2014. I successfully secured funding and sponsorship for the festival. This was the first year the festival had received  funding. I expanded the festival to include a new commissioning strand, a six week schools programme and a 2nd ‘world of music/dance’ stage. The festivals theme in 2014 was ‘home coming’ and was headlined by Steele Pulse performing on the 20th Anniversary of their famous Handsworth Park gig. We achieved and audience of over 15000.

‘The Best Simmer Down by far’ – Sharon Palmer, Chair Simmer Down CIC – (Regional Action West Midlands)

Flat Out

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Partners: Birmingham Royal Ballet, The Drum, CBSO, Arts Council, Family Arts Campaign Birmingham Housing Trust, Wilmott and Dixon Contractors

Aims: To research how ‘low engagement’ families engage in cultural activity and how effective cultural intervention can changing people’s perception of where they live. To connect the Drum with local people.

Project description:

This project was one of 10 (from 1050) to be highlighted as a flagship project in the National Family Arts campaign 2014. Flat Out brought The Drum, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Birmingham Royal Ballet and Birmingham University together with families living in Inkerman House, a high rise tower Aston. This block is home to some of the city’s most disadvantaged families from a range of cultural backgrounds including refugee/asylum seekers and families in emergency housing. Artists (ballet, contemporary dance, music, video) worked with families to create a performance presenting the character, lives and aspirations of families living in the flats in contrast to the hard, grey brutalism of the architecture around them. The project included performances by Royal Ballets Prima Ballerinas in family living rooms, workshops in kitchens and culminated in a performance created with residents performed on the roof.

‘This is one of the most exciting engagement projects we’ve done’ – Kasia Kraus Community and Schools Engagement Officer, Birmingham Royal Ballet.

Punchline

Partners: Pan Merseyside Arts Officers Group, Arts Council England, Boxing Clubs,

Aim: To engage NEET young people across the region in activity linking to the Cultural Olympiad.

Project Description: Working with artists, boxing trainers and NEET young people we created a performance combining boxing, dance, film and music for the closing of the cultural Olympiad at Preston Guild 2012. Artists and boxing trainers worked with participants across the 6 regions of Merseyside to create a performance that brought personal and social struggles into the ring. Film work was projected on screens around the performance space with more performance activities (dance, music and boxing) taking place inside the ring. Artists of the highest level assisted the delivery including Phoenix Dance founder Villmore James, British punk legend Jah Wobble, Perfect Motion (documentary film makers channel 4), heavyweight boxing champion Tony Bellew and ITF DJ champion G-Kut.

This project received national media coverage including features on radio 4’s Midweek programme, national BBC breakfast TV and Sky Sports.

The success of this work can be entirely attributed to Martin’s hard work, creativity and diligence from proposal, advocacy, fundraising to project management and evaluation’ – Sean Durney – Cultural Infrastructure Officer, Culture Liverpool.

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This project Evolved from The pilot project in runcorn. Here is some footage of the pilot project below:

Shock Mobility

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Partners: Illegal Money leading Team, Trading Standards, Croomz, Halton Borough Council, Caslefields Emergancy Housing, Age Concern

Aims: To create a national campaign promoting the work of the Illegal Money Lending Team. To engage a multi-generational community cast in dance and performance.

Project Description:

Working with professional artists, young, Single mothers in emergency housing and Over 60s created this physical theatre performance using synchronized mobility scooters, choreographed pram pushing and film. The show was created through workshops and consultation with victims of illegal money lending and those most at risk. Performers included al risk women aged from 13 to 75! The project was commissioned to raise awareness of illegal money lending in the region. One of the performing participants is the mother of a young man who committed suicide as a result of High profile illegal money lending case. This performance gave her a voice to campaign against Illegal money lending and to make her story heard. The performance combined comic imagery and slapstick with challenging real life stories presented by those who live them.  This project received national media coverage including Midweek radio 4 and daybreak ITV breakfast.

‘The most exciting and fun work we’ve commissioned’ – Joanne Hartley, Trading Standards

Pimp My C’art

Partners: Halton Borough Council, Halton Business Partnership

Aim: Engage NEET young people and young offenders in practical, meaningful training.

Project description: Working with participants we turned an old Military Land Rover into a mobile, musical Art-Car sculpture. This project provided training in mechanics, welding, fabrication sculpture, film and music. As well as working with artists, fabricators and mechanics, participants also worked with a filmmaker to create a documentary about the project. There were complex legal, health and safety, logistical and creative challenges to overcome to successfully deliver this project. This project was cited as an example of good practice by ACE and included as a case study by the North West Redevelopment Agency.
‘Usually I’m in the papers for bad things. Now I’ve been in for a good thing that’s not bringing me into trouble. People can’t believe it. I’d definitely do it again. I’d even come to help other people do it’ – Col Phillips, Participant

Going Undergound

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Partners: Castlefields Regeneration Team, Castlefields Community Chest

Aim: Engage the local community in the redesign of 6 subways in the area. Deliver a festival event.

Project description: A team of 15 visual and performance artists (music, dance, theatre and spoken word) worked with local residents to create permanent murals/artwork that improve the look of 6 subways, and create site specific performances to launch the artworks. The project engaged a range of local organisation to ensure that the widest cross-section of people were involved. Participating groups included five primary schools, young people from MENCAP, adult learners from the Acorn Adult Learning Centre and young people referred through the YOT. Working with artists over several months, participant’s created visual artworks and performances for the Going Underground Launch event on 14/08/2012. The performance included live uploads and twitter feeds to a digital map of activity. Other groups contributed to the event to create a festival atmosphere. There were 321 participants, 7 new performances groups established and five permanent artworks created in the subways.

‘By far the most successful engagement project we’ve done in Castlefields, amazing’ – Nathan Renison, Castlefields Regeneration Team

The Brindley

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Partners: Halton Borough Council, European Development Fund, Northwest, John Miller Partners Redevelopment Fund, Arts Council England

Aim: The Brindley will provide excellent facilities and opportunities for engaging with and access to performances, exhibitions and events which entertain, educate and inspire.

Project Description:

I (along with many colleagues and partners) were fortunate to have the opportunity to develop the build and launch The Brindley Arts Centre; a multi-purpose arts facility with a 600 capacity Theatre, studio/cinema, gallery space and a range of education facilities.

This was a major project that developed from several years of grassroots community arts work. Following its launch, I worked as the Brindley’s director for music and community engagement, developing the infrastructure for the venue locally, regionally and nationally.

As a new venue, the Brindley was a major audience development undertaking. During my time at the Brindley, I created and delivered many creative development projects ranging from major regional initiatives across Merseyside and Cheshire (Capital of Culture and Cultural Olympiad Projects) to local, community centered activities. Whilst the Brindley is probably my most notable achievement in Halton, it is these creative projects that made it a venue I am most proud of.

The Brindley is and is the main centre for arts and entertainment for the borough of Halton which covers the twin towns of Runcorn and Widnes on either side of the River Mersey.

The Brindley opened in September 2004 with the following mission:

‘The Brindley will provide excellent facilities and opportunities for engaging with and access to performances, exhibitions and events which entertain, educate and inspire’.

The building was designed by the brilliant architect Richard Brierley of John Miller Partners and the design won a Royal Institute of British Architects Architectural Award in 2004.Awards

During my time at the Brindley, the venue won 9 major awards. These are:

  • Award for Technical Excellence in Architectural Technology 2008
  • Picture of awardBest Performance Venue – Mersey Partnership Tourism Awards 2008
  • Best Arts Project in the UK – National Lottery Awards 2007
  • ADAPT ‘Excellence In Access’ Award  – Access for Disabled People to Arts Premises Today 2005
  • Centre Vision Civic Trust Award 2005
  • Royal Institute of British Architects Architectural Award 2004
  • Kitemark Award for Disability Access & Friendliness 2013 (The Ella Performance Group)

Singout

Partners: Pan Merseyside Arts Officers Group

Aims: To engage the six outlying boroughs of Merseyside in the Liverpool Capital of Culture activity. Establish new network of community choirs across the region.

Project Description: This project connected people from across Merseyside to the Capital of Culture programme and to contribute to improving wellbeing across the region. New singing groups for all ages were set up around Merseyside. I commissioned BAFTA Award winning composer Bill Connor to work with the groups to create a piece of music that brought them together for a mass performance in a disused warehouse in Liverpool. A video artist was commissioned to work with participants to create visual material to accompany the performance. Footage was projected around the space creating an immersive sound and visual experience. The community choirs established are still running to date. 

‘This project was a highlight of the 2008 capitol of culture programme and shows what can be achieved’ – Culture Liverpool music programmes coordinator Gordon Ross’

Artistic Programming

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Artistic programming is a major part of what I do . I programme music, theatre, dance, literature, spoken word, and cultural events, festivals such as discussions, and debate. As programme Manager at the Drum  (UK’s leading intercultural arts centre) I specialized in a culturally diverse programme reaching the widest range of communities in the West Midlands. The programme presents a broad range of performance including Gujarati and Punjabi language theatre, Jamacian Patois plays, Qawwali music, Ghazal, contemporary dance, reggae, soul and hip-hop, world music, political debate and much more. Curating The Drums programme required broad knowledge and expertise in diverse artforms, communities, attitudes and audience’s and how to connect with them to deliver a programme that resonates. The drum required complex, highly specialized programming.  In contrast, the Brindley (in a small town in Merseyside with a 99.8% white British population) catered for a more traditional theatre/venue audience including rock, trad jazz, comedy, ballet, children’s theatre, pantomime and shows.

To negotiate profitable contracts with agents I draw on professional expertise to assess the total cost of performance (artist fee, technical specifications, security, PRS, staffing, VAT) against forecasted ticket yields and projected audience numbers. To reach The Drums income targets I programmed several large off-site events for audiences of up to 25,000. Examples include Simmer Down (25000), Pankaj Udhas (3000), Reggae Salute (3500) and George Clintons P-Funk (1500). I often co-produced larger shows (co-pro’s) with established partners (Dance Exchange, Mostley Jazz & Funk, Hare & Hounds, Punch Records). In these circumstances I enter a business partnership with the co-promoter.

As Programme & Arts Manager at The Drum, I was responsible for the direction and delivery of organizations, artistic programme including commercial performance (music, dance, theatre, literature and more), arts development, audience development and community engagement/education and outreach. As Arts Development Officer with Halton Borough Council, I was responsible for the design and delivery of a comprehensive Arts Development strategy across Halton and the artistic programming and business planning at the award winning the Brindley Arts Centre. I am used to developing and implementing strategic development/business plans that feed into broader strategies.

I worked within the team that led the fundraising, build, launch and ongoing programming of Brindley Arts Centre; a multi-purpose arts facility with a 520 capacity Theatre, 175 capacity studio/cinema, a gallery space and a range of education facilities. Following its launch in 2005 I worked as the Brindley’s artistic director for music and community engagement, developing the infrastructure for the venue locally, regionally and nationally and (as a new venue), delivered a major audience development programme.

A major aspect of my work is commercial arts programming. I programme music, theatre, dance, literature, spoken word, and cultural events such as discussions, and debate.  The Drum is the UK’s leading intercultural arts centre specializing in a culturally diverse programme reaching the widest range of communities in the West Midlands. The programme presents a broad range of performance including Gujarati and Punjabi language theatre, Jamacian Patois plays, Qawwali music, Ghazal, contemporary dance, reggae, soul and hip-hop, world music, political debate and much more. Curating The Drums programme requires broad knowledge and expertise in diverse artforms, communities, attitudes and audience’s and how to connect with them to deliver a programme that resonates. This is complex, highly specialized programming often with strong political overtones/implications.  In contrast, the Brindley (in a small town in Merseyside with a 99.8% white British population) catered for a more traditional theatre/venue audience including rock, trad jazz, comedy, ballet, children’s theatre, pantomime and shows. To negotiate profitable contracts with agents I draw on professional expertise to assess the total cost of performance (artist fee, technical specifications, security, PRS, staffing, VAT) against forecasted ticket yields and projected audience numbers. To reach The Drums income targets I programmed several large off-site events for audiences of up to 15,000. Examples include Simmer Down (15000), Pankaj Udhas (3000), Reggae Salute (2500) and George Clintons P-Funk (1500). I often co-produce larger shows (co-pro’s) with established partners (Dance Exchange, Mostley Jazz & Funk, Hare & Hounds). In these circumstances I enter a business partnership with the co-promoter.

Rewire Cream Egg

Partners: Cream Group, Connexions

Aim: To Present the work of young Bands attending the Rewire youth band programme

Partners Aim: This project sought to provide activity for young musicians in Halton to develop the use of multi-media at the Brindley and improve the quality of promotional material showcasing the work of local artists and Arts Development in Halton. Funding was secured from Creamfields to provide 250 hours of free recording. This was provided through the weekly Re:Wire sessions (drop-in workshops and regular showcase gigs for young bands). The ‘egg’ contains a wristband/USB stick on which there is a Flash Projector interface. Each band has a page on the flash interface containing their music, pictures and biography. The Egg also contains, customized Re:wire guitar plectrums, stickers and badges. Participants received training in music production, song writing and music promotion. Alongside this I established BRUB TV, an online TV outlet for young bands. Young people worked with professional artists at a local Youth Hub to create a music-based TV Show. Participants developed the concept and style of the show, received training in recording, production and video editing and worked with a professional actor to develop their skills as presenters. A key aim was to improve the quality and range of arts opportunity available through Youth Services. The project established a key partnership with Action for Children, leading to the development of ongoing music and film training and further projects.

Case of the Shrunken Moon

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Partners: Primary Schools Merseyside, Arts Council England

Aim: This project responded to local teachers’ concerns that there was little provision linking the curriculum to Holocaust memorial activities. It also created an opportunity for the Brindley to further establish itself as a producing venue.

Project Description: 

This project responded to local teachers’ concerns that there was little provision linking the curriculum to Holocaust memorial activities. It also created an opportunity for the Brindley to further establish itself as a producing venue. I secured funding from ACE to develop a children’s show that drew on Klezmer music and Jewish folklore. The performance combined music, dance, puppetry, and theatre. Primary schools across Halton received the show and a workshop package for the whole school at a subsidized cost of just £250 per school. The project also provided CPD and employment to five developing artists. The show has gone on to be performed in Chester, Manchester and St Helens and a number of festivals.

‘I’ve learned a lot about Theatre in Education. Creating a show from scratch and seeing kids respond to it was brilliant. Its helped me to get a foot hold in the business’ – Ellie Griffiths – Hens Teeth Theatre  

Takeover

Partners: The Brindley, regular participatory groups

Aim: To increase participation from and make the venue more accessible to young people

Project Description: To allow young people to ‘take over’ the Brindley Arts Centre for five days. Participants worked alongside the Arts Development Team over several months to plan and coordinate the event. This included devising new performances, liaising with technical staff and contracting artists/tutors. They received training and mentoring and were accredited with arts award (Silver). The event showcased the work of local young artists and drew new audiences to the Brindley. The project provided an opportunity to discover how the venue could be more accessible to young audiences. It also provided additional development opportunities to local arts organizations.
‘It was great to get my hands on the actual programming of a proper venue and learn about how much it costs to actually put on a show’ – Gareth Arrowsmith, young artist/facilitator

Film Music Projects

Here are a few film/music summer school films. We made the film…. then put music to it!

Animate

This was a two week summer school that gave young children the opportunity to create a stop frame animation film. The film was created using the very accessible iStopMotion software. Working with myself as the facilitator children created the story, made the props and characters and armature (movable skeleton enabling the characters to move), shot and edited the film and uploaded it to the Brindley Arts Centre Website. This was followed by a music summer school with a different group of young people, who created and recorded music to accompany the film live at the Brindley Cinema. Animate sought to engage children from the polis/Belarusian communities recently moved to the area. Animate was one of a series of annual summer schools that worked with different target groups to create film and accompanying live music using a range of technologies.

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