Bringing local history to life in Bentilee Heritage Lottery Fund project

Research into the history of their community is helping young people from Stoke-on-Trent to create and perform an arts project,

The Living Archives project at Bentilee has been made possible following a successful bid for Heritage Lottery funding by Partners in Creative Learning (PiCL).

The summer-long programme is based at the St Stephen’s Community Church Youth Club.

Erica Love, of PiCL, working in partnership with the Stoke-on-Trent City Archives service, has commissioned a team of six artists and creatives to work with the young people, including film makers, a photographer, a drama leader and a musician.

The young people have played a leading role from the start, working with PiCL to choose the artists and planning the project’s overall direction.

“The project has a dual purpose, the young people will explore their local history with the support of the artists and then stage a multi-media performance for the people of Bentilee,” said Erica.

Emma Cartwright, a youth leader at St Stephen’s, added: “Our young people are learning new skills while finding out more about their community and speaking to people throughout Bentilee. It is a fantastic project for us to be involved in.”

Film maker Steve Cranston, of Stafford, is among the creative leaders working with the youth group. He said: “For me, it is about finding out what the group is passionate about and how they can turn that into a lasting memory for this community.”

Anne Kinnaird and Holly Morgan-Wynne, of North Staffordshire based Letting in the Light, are also involved. “We are planning to work with stop-motion animation,” said Anne. “The young people will go out into the community over the summer school holidays to ask residents to tell their story and we will then animate it.”

The summer-long project began when artists visited St Stephen’s to introduce themselves to youth group members and to start the creative process.

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