Her Hidden Histories – Centenary Celebration

As today marks 100 years since the first UK women were granted the right to vote, it’s about time for an update on our Her Hidden Histories project!

Last summer saw two groups of young women, from Wythenshawe and Gorton, create some fantastic performances at both the Museum of Transport and the Greater Manchester Police Museum. ‘In the Driving Seat’ told stories of the first women to work on trams and buses, largely owing to the absence of men during the First World War. ‘Top of the Bill’ explored experiences of the first women in policing during a similar period, many of whom had also been on the other side of the law as suffragettes. Both performances enjoyed a rousing inter-generational musical finale, thanks to our fantastic Herizons group!

This year, we are bringing both groups of young women together to create another ambitious performance at the stunning Victoria Baths. ‘Turning Tides: First in the Fight’ will weave together the stories uncovered in the previous two performances and celebrate the role of everyday women in the struggle for suffrage. Exact times are yet to be confirmed but there will be 3 chances to catch this exciting new piece, with an evening performance on Thursday 31st May and both a matinee and evening performance on Friday 1st June.

Watch this space for more details!

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Her Hidden Histories

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We’re delighted to announce our new young women’s project: Her Hidden Histories!

Over the next 2 years, we’ll be working with young women from Wythenshawe and Ardwick to uncover and celebrate stories of everyday Manchester women, creating 3 brand new site-specific performances at small heritage venues across the city.

In the first phase of the project, spring/summer 2017, we’ll be teaming up with the Museum of Transport Greater Manchester (Wythenshawe group) and the Greater Manchester Police Museum (Ardwick group), creating site-specific performances at both venues. Incorporating music, drama & dance, these performances will be inspired by hidden histories of women in the typically male-dominated industries of policing and transport in the early 20th Century. Each group will then work towards a Takeover Day at their venue in autumn 2017 where they will become creative tour guides, devising methods to engage other young people and the general public with each place, based on what inspires and excites them.

The second phase of the project in 2018 will bring the two groups together to create a larger scale performance at Victoria Baths. This will build upon elements of each previous piece and coincide with the centenary of the first women being granted the vote in summer 2018. Throughout the project, the young women will preside over the development of an interactive online resource in collaboration with Digital Women’s Archive North (DWAN) & MadLab. The project will conclude with the launch of the digital archive in December 2018.

We’re incredibly grateful to Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England and The Granada Foundation for supporting this project – and we can’t wait to get started!

Merry Christmas from enJOY arts!

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… and so ends another busy year for enJOY arts. 2016 certainly hasn’t been without its challenges for many, making creative community projects more relevant than ever and we’re determined to look forward to 2017 with hope and positivity. Looking back over this year, however, we’ve also found plenty to enJOY (scroll down to see our photo slideshow)!

In our first year as resident artists at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, we’ve delivered a number of exciting projects in partnership with them; from creative storytelling with older people as part of Dementia Awareness Week in May, to family activities inspired by Beatrix Potter during the summer holidays. We’ve also been working with the House to develop their education programme, delivering interactive drama workshops to both school and university groups. For Heritage Open Days in September, we enjoyed working with members of the local community to develop an exhibition of Living Memories of the House and neighbourhood.

By far our biggest partnership project this year was ‘Gaskell: The Musical!’, working with local women to devise and perform an original musical which premiered as part of Manchester Histories Festival in June. We had tremendous fun working with such a warm and lively group, many of whom had never performed before and really grew in confidence throughout the project. The initial performances were such as smash hit (selling out 3 shows) that we were asked to reprise the run in September, which we were delighted to be able to do. Harnessing the enthusiasm of the talented cast, and with the support of Elizabeth Gaskell’s House and One Manchester, we’ve now been able to secure more funding to run a regular creative women’s group which we can’t wait to start in the New Year.

We’ve continued to develop other projects with women and girls throughout 2016. For International Women’s Day, we worked with young women from Wythenshawe and Salford to create a textiles exhibition celebrating women from Manchester’s history. This was displayed at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House and there were squeals of delight from some members of the group when they first saw their own handiwork on show in such a beautiful historic venue! Some of the young women who worked on this display had also taken part in our ‘Tales of Manchester Life’ project in 2015 and we were thrilled when this project was recognised with a Community Histories Award in March. The girls loved attending a fancy event at Manchester Town Hall to receive this award and we were even more pleased to officially become a multi-award-winning organisation!

Since the summer, we’ve continued to run drama workshops with young women in Wythenshawe, some of whom are now working towards their Silver Arts Award. This project will culminate in an interactive performance and drama workshop led by the young women for their local junior youth group early next year. We’ve also had a great time delivering drama workshops with young women’s groups for our friends, The Proud Trust, at their LesBiCon and summer camp events.

Over the summer, we were very pleased to be able to return to MASH – a fantastic organisation for women which we first worked with as students back in 2011 – to deliver a series of drama workshops in their weekly drop-in. The women here really enjoyed the opportunity to play creatively with props and costumes and devised all sorts of imaginative scenes, from a botched bank robbery to a zombie apocalypse!

Aside from solely female-focused projects, we’ve continued to work with hard to reach young people across Greater Manchester and Salford, delivering the Bronze Arts Award with groups from Eccles to Monsall. It was lovely to be shortlisted by Manchester Young Lives as their Partner Organisation of the Year and we hope to develop more projects with them in 2017.

We’d like to thank all our partners, funders and friends for their valuable support and enthusiasm this year: Arts Council England, One Manchester, Places for People, John Grant Davies Trust, Comic Relief Local Communities Fund, Wythenshawe Community Housing Group, Wythy Tree Youth Bank, Elizabeth Gaskell’s House (projects funded by Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic England), Claire Mooney, The Proud Trust, TLM Centre, MASH, Tandem Theatre, Art with Heart, Manchester Young Lives, Direct Access, Manchester Histories, Arc, Greater Manchester Police Museum, Museum of Transport Greater Manchester, Digital Women’s Archive North and Victoria Baths.

We’re very much looking forward to 2017, not least because we’ll then be able to announce our plans for an exciting new young women’s project we have in the pipeline…

But for now, may your days be merry and bright – and we hope your festive season is an enJOYable one!

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New women’s performance project at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House

We can’t believe it’s March already! And, in the week of International Women’s Day, we’re excited to announce our new women’s performance project which will be kicking off with taster sessions next week!

Investing in Voices – Gaskell the Musical is a project where women local to Elizabeth Gaskell’s House can come together and get creative. We’ll be taking inspiration from the house to devise and perform a new musical which will be part of the Manchester Histories Festival in June. Absolutely no experience is necessary and, with a bit of music, drama and a chance to play, there’s sure to be something for everyone!

Just by taking part, women will also have the opportunity to earn a Level 1 BTEC qualification in Employability, which will be great for anyone looking to get back into the world of work or volunteering.

The project begins with two taster sessions on Tuesday 15th March (1-3pm) and Wednesday 16th March (3-5pm). These taster sessions will be in the Community Room at Cornbrook House (please see the flyer for address details) but regular weekly sessions after that will be at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House. All women are welcome, there’ll be plenty of tea and biscuits – and we’re sure to have a lot of fun!

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We’re delighted to be working again with wonderful musician Claire Mooney on this project and to have secured support and funding from Arts Council England, One Manchester and Elizabeth Gaskell’s House.

Please call the number on the flyer if you’d like any more information or watch this space for updates!