Award-winning creative arts company verd de gris are launching two new projects based on cultural identity and migration.
The not-for-profit group will work closely with communities from across Calderdale and explore the different cultural identities that exist in the borough.
Pitter Patter: The Storyman – Stories of Migration and Journeying is a cross community project devised and delivered by verd de gris in partnership with Square Chapel’s creative communities initiative.
The project will celebrate the art of storytelling to bring a greater understanding of the experience of migration and other cultures to communities across Calderdale.
The Hebden Bridge based company will be working with eight local primary schools during the Autumn term as well as creative arts students from Calderdale College, with the programme culminating in a performance at Square Chapel in December.
Jeff Turner, from verd de gris, said: “Over the past six months national and international news has been dominated by images and stories of people leaving their homeland to escape war and/or persecution. But the experience of migration and journeying is a historical and constant phenomenon and we need to find a way of helping our young people understand how and why people travel to a new land in search of a better life.”
Working with storyteller Peter Findlay and dance artist Natalie Speake, the Storyman workshops in schools will draw on reminiscences from elders in the local Pakistani community about their journey to the UK and how they worked to establish their own community here.
“Using elements of dance and gesture, some poetry and storytelling, we want to help the young people empathise and connect emotionally with people from other cultures and different generations,” said Jeff.
“We want the young people to express themselves, but more importantly, to begin to connect with the stories that reflect the experiences and the rich diversity of lives people here in Calderdale.”
TAXI! is a cross-community project also in partnership with Square Chapel’s creative communities initiative that will involve working with two groups from the town’s community of taxi drivers.
Film maker and photographer Geoff Brokate will spend time with and shadow drivers as they go on their daily routes, eavesdropping on stories and conversations that fill the cabs on a daily basis.
The project will mainly work with 10 drivers from the Pakistani community but also with a further 10 targeted groups of drivers from the wider community to explore similarities and differences within the culture of the profession.
Geoff will also be looking at the culture and tradition of drivers from Pakistan, such as the highly ornamental decoration of the vehicles, the status of the drivers and why they come into the profession in the first place.
Working with the support of Coun Faisal Shoukat and Coun Sail Suleman from Calderdale Council, the project aims to discover a more positive image of the community.