People are united by postcodes, but a new initiative as part of Brighton Festival’s Your Place - two weekends of free arts and cultural activities in Hangleton and East Brighton delivered in partnership with Brighton People’s Theatre - has been asking local residents to consider what it is that ties neighbourhoods together and what can be done to bring the community closer together.
Taking inspiration from the recently popularised Random Acts of Kindness movement, Your Place 2018 Artist in Residence Kate McCoy has been leading a series of workshops known as Random Acts of Neighbourliness, which encourages participants to share experiences of their own neighbourhoods to create a ‘visual map’ of the area and to come up with creative ideas to get to know their neighbours and bring the community together. Their contributions – which have ranged from coffee and cake mornings to getting rid of double yellow lines so that the children of elderly residents can visit more easily – will be incorporated into an interactive, visual exhibition by installation artist Luan Taylor at the two Your Place weekends throughout Brighton Festival.
Kate McCoy says: “Being Your Place's artist in residence is my ideal job, I get to meet loads of different people in a range of settings and find out more about them creatively, connecting through laughter and conversation. I have been setting up in community centres, lunch clubs and youth drop-ins, asking people to sit down with me and create a visual map of their neighbourhood using objects to represent themselves, their neighbours and the landmarks and features that surround them. So, a Pritt stick has been a lamp post where young people hang out on the Knoll Estate, a bus stop in Whitehawk that can be seen from a living room window, and someone who works with the community, sticking people together.
"I have also been asking people to decide on a “random act of neighbourliness” something that could happen to bring the community closer together. People have been so welcoming in both communities, open and even more creative than they thought they were and have made beautiful images and said thought provoking things that I hope you will come and see.”
Naomi Alexander, Artistic Director of Brighton People’s Theatre, says: “Kate McCoy was chosen by residents from East Brighton and Hangleton to become the artist in residence for Your Place from an impressive range of artists who applied. They were particularly taken with her down to earth and relatable approach to working creatively with people who may not think of themselves as creative. Her idea of Random Acts of Neighbourliness caught their imagination and people in both communities have been really impressed by the work she has done over the past few months.
"Your Place is a partnership project run by Brighton Festival, Brighton People's Theatre and two resident-led, community development projects on either side of the city: Due East and the Hangleton and Knoll Project. We have been working with a steering group of local people from both communities over the last year to co-programme and co-design Your Place for the Brighton Festival 2018. We are really excited about all the brilliant shows and workshops that are part of this year's programme."
Image: Kate Tempest at Your Place 2017
Hosted by local community centres, and programmed in collaboration with local residents and artists, Your Place will bring a diverse line-up of free performances, workshops and activities to the Hangleton and East Brighton communities. The inaugural project in 2017 was a resounding success, with over 2,000 people taking part in Your Place across the two weekends, and participants describing the experience as 'inspiring' and 'energising'.
Artists taking part in the Your Place 2018 weekends will include: David Shrigley, The Ragroof Players, The Future is Unwritten Theatre Company, Herringbone Arts, Joanna Neary, Culture Clash, Touched Theatre, Dundu and Worldbeaters, Brighton & Hove Music & Arts and many more.
Main image credit: Tom Wenezou