Take a look at our campaign programme of events over the next few months.
Since April 2021, we have been running creative consultation groups with a range of community and charity groups from across the city, engaging them in policymaking and local politics with fun and visual arts activities.
In September, we gathered young creatives living in Manchester at a Changemaker Meet-up. Individuals came together to make protest banners, reflect on foodbank stories, design Piccadilly Gardens and listen to local musicians. Read more here.
In October, we ran the People's Takeover of Piccadilly Gardens. We took our campaign to the heart of the public square, giving Mancunians a chance to be part of a new conversation, engaging the public in our work striving for a more inclusive vision of Manchester's public spaces. We had workshops, events, tours and podcasts going on throughout the day. Take a look at what happened here.
In December & February, we gathered our community groups, partners and the public together in a Town Hall event to discuss our findings so far and create a manifesto for our demands for inclusive public space.
In April 2022, we will be presenting our manifesto and campaign findings to Manchester City Council in a creative exhibition and discussion event.
Scroll for more information about our events.
WHAT'S ON: Street Interviews
March / April
PEOPLE'S TAKEOVER AT PICCADILLY GARDENS
In October, we brought the action to the heart of our campaign, for a People's Takeover of Piccadilly Gardens.
With a whole day of creative activity to get involved with, we had an incredible turn-out of local people interested in making our city spaces better for all.
Throughout the day we set up camp next to the play park, behind the Queen Victoria statue, sitting on our foodbank crates, meeting with families, friends, and individuals of all ages using the square, taking part in fun, creative activities to "Redesign Piccadilly Gardens", write manifestos for change, and record interviews about public spaces and inequalities in our city for our podcast. These activities started getting people engaged in important policymaking decisions, but in a fun and accessible way.
At 11am we had Invisible (Manchester) along for a free alternative tour of the centre, seeing the city through the eyes of those with experiences of homelessness. It was great to join their guide Danny on his tour, combining his love for poetry and Manchester's public spaces.
At 1pm, artist and architectural designer Freya Bruce led us in a Sketch Walk around the square. This allowed the group to take stock of the smaller things, taking rubbings and etchings of details, sketching out protestors and people, and tracing the skyline.
At 2pm, we gathered in the centre for a Discussion Circle, led by Matt Stallard from Manchester Central Foodbank with Andy from Invisible Manchester and Morag Rose from the Loiterers Resistance Movement. We had some incredible questions and statements from our group in an energetic and spirited discussion on inequalities in public space. Followed by a post-discussion group in the Northern Quarter, a chance to continue the conversation over food.
It was great to start new conversations in fun, creative, and engaging ways about the inequalities in our city and how public spaces can challenge them as well as being accessible and enriching for everyone. People reflected passionately and thoughtfully about the changes we need to make as we come out of this pandemic and look to the future. This is the beginning of our campaign for change.
Take a look at our Sketch Walk map, filled with drawings created throughout the day. You can zoom in and click on pin-points to see some of the drawings created, whether these were rubbings of tiny details, capturing people in action or tracing the skyline.
CHANGEMAKER MEET-UP AT HATCH
In September, we ran a night for young Mancunian changemakers to come together and chat, help us prepare for our People's Takeover and listen to the music of young local musicians.
We introduced our young changemakers to Placemaking Piccadilly through our Redesign Piccadilly Gardens activity, prompting creative responses to fill the square. We had areas to paint your own protest banner complete with demands for Piccadilly Gardens (including ‘More Trees Please!’ and ‘Give us a bush and somewhere to flush!’) to be displayed in the square at our People's Takeover. In addition, we were keen for individuals to engage with foodbank user testimonials we have been recording as part of our partner campaign Can You Hear Me Now? We encouraged people to reflect on foodbank stories and share their opinions on how we can work towards a society without the need for foodbanks.
These activities were set to the tunes of local musicians Dr Fabola, Olivia Browse and Xariella. In addition to our programme of activities, we ran a food drive collecting food as entry to the event which went towards filling food parcels at Manchester Central Foodbank.
Our Changemaker Meet-up was a great way of introducing the campaign to engaged young people and drumming up support. Many of these young people went on to become core participants in future events, and reported that this was a great way to meet other people interested in social change in the city. Further to this event, we hope to maintain these relationships to foster a growing activist base across Manchester.
TOWN HALL AT HOME & METHODIST HALL
In December and February, we gathered our core campaign collaborators and community partners at HOME Manchester and the Methodist Hall for two creative Town Hall-style sessions. We discussed the future of the campaign and how to achieve tangible change for Greater Manchester’s public spaces.
Using wooden blocks as visual prompts, we answered questions around what events, activities or resources could there be in Piccadilly to enrich lives for everyone? How can we make a central square that is accessible and welcoming to all? And going further, what could be included in our public spaces that actively challenges inequalities?
Our final co-created manifesto encompasses everything from renewed central public services, spaces for creativity and restoring nature back to the Gardens. We look forward to refining it even further with our campaign members in the coming weeks.
Public spaces are an essential and often neglected part of our city. They are spaces for enjoyment and enrichment of individual and public life. They are the spaces where conversations happen between citizens and where the things we stand for can be seen and heard most clearly. As we bring more people together from across Manchester to come up with proposals and ideas for the future, some of questions we will be asking include:
> How do we create high quality spaces that enrich wellbeing, health and the cultural life of everyone, particularly those on the lowest incomes?
> How can public spaces be used to challenge inequalities?
> How can we foster a spirit of conversation in the public square?
> And how do we ensure people from across the city, and particularly those facing barriers to accessing public space, digital resources, and traditional public consultation, can contribute to designing spaces and activities?
As our consultation period closes, we will be formalising our findings and approaching decision-makers to insight real change co-produced with our core campaign members.
We will have a final creative intervention in Piccadilly Gardens in the build-up to our exhibition. This intervention will be designed and led by our core participants, but we imagine it to include writing our manifesto points in chalk in the square or 'greening the square' with chalk flower drawings.
In March, we will be presenting our manifesto and campaign findings to Manchester City Council in a creative exhibition and discussion event.
After over a decade of austerity and cuts to public services, many of the people we have spoken to have been left feeling exasperated and unsure how we can make changes for the better. Through Placemaking Piccadilly, we aim to find new channels for voices, engaging people in policy-making in fun and creative activities.
We are excited to bring together everyone involved in the campaign to work together and create public spaces that challenge inequalities. We welcome you to contact us further for more information about the campaign at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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