Our project takes a multi-modal approach with four stages leading to the festival.
* Stage 1
focuses on visual arts, music and oral histories. This will take the form of multi-method creative workshops around the themes of ‘welcome’ and ‘utopia’ organised and developed with two community organisations. Activities will include wire sculpture, silk painting, song, and oral histories, led by experienced artists and creative practitioners. Students from the University of Leeds will co-facilitate these workshops.
* Stage 2
focuses on devising a performance based on the themes arising from the visual arts workshops. This will be developed by UoL performance students and by researchers in the Performance and Place research group. The community groups who participated in the first stage will also be encouraged to participate. This connects different communities, and people who would not otherwise work together. Through engaging students in this work we open up the University, and we bring the University into the community. We therefore ‘welcome’ each other into new spaces.
* Stage 3
focuses on the performance of these themes, in the form of ‘happenings’ in the public space, allowing for the public to engage with these themes and to offer their own interpretations of ‘welcome’ and ‘utopia’. It is envisaged that these will take place in public spaces in Leeds and Wakefield on 22nd June 2016.
* Stage 4
involves the dissemination and touring of the project. This will include a project film documenting the local festival workshops, the devised performance, a book and online resources of oral histories, and a creative activity in which we will invite members of the public to explore their own definitions and understandings of welcome and utopia. This will include the CC Utopias Festival itself, and supplementary activities including TLANG public engagement events and further touring across the UK for festivals, including Galoshans (Greenock), Journeys (Leicester) and Greenbelt (Northamptonshire).
The project design will allow for the ongoing sharing of, reflection on, and analysis of the work as it progresses. The researchers, artists, creative practitioners and community groups will work closely together to develop practice and theory through the research findings and through an interdisciplinary approach to reflection and evaluation. We will explore how current cutting edge language research can be interwoven into community-based, participatory arts projects and how the two areas can mutually inform to produce innovative and creative outputs as well as engage with wider communities. We will also investigate how arts-based activities can be worked into research projects, such as TLANG, to make their rich, multilingual data accessible.
The visual methods draw on FA’s expertise. For silk painting, we will use images and photos to make the painting personal and poignant. We will use figurative wire sculpture to bring the art back to the person. They are easily manipulated to portray a range of stories, activities and emotions, offering opportunities for imaginative role play. Songs are a means of sharing diverse cultures. Musical elements of song carry the emotional qualities and help bridge language barriers. Story-telling and oral histories run as a thread throughout the process.