Take a look at the events that have made up the Placemaking Piccadilly campaign. Our events have engaged the public in our campaigns, intervening in Piccadilly Gardens to ask how we can make our central square a more inclusive space for all.
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.
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.
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.
PEOPLE'S TAKEOVER II
AT PICCADILLY GARDENS
In March alongside our core campaigners and members of the public, we covered Piccadilly Gardens head-to-toe in chalk flower drawings. We wanted to make a peaceful statement through collective action; demanding a greener, more creative and welcoming central space.
Individuals took to the pavement to decorate it with flowers, messages of hope and, of course, their Instagram handles. It was great to see so many people engaging in such a hands-on and creative activity that provoked conversation on people’s varied experiences of public spaces.
With the help of Visual Anthropology students from the University of Manchester, we were able to document a snapshot of conversations about Piccadilly Gardens with passers-by. The team stood all day on a busy Saturday, interviewing people on their experiences of the square, questioning things like their sense of ownership over it, their safety moving through it and their enjoyment of it as a communal space.
You can watch the short documentary film produced by Julia Brow, Ruby Davis and Danny Gregson here, with accompanying portraits by Obat Soepraba.
Photography: Art Fund / David Oates.