Reflecting on our recent trip to Barrow-in-Furness for the Creative People and Places (CPP) conference, I am filled with inspiration and a renewed sense of purpose. The conference offered a unique opportunity to see first hand the remarkable work that other CPPs are undertaking across the country. The exchange of ideas and experiences was invaluable, and it was heartening to meet new people while reconnecting with familiar faces.

This year’s conference had a notable emphasis on nature, a theme that resonates deeply with me. The various presentations and discussions highlighted the profound connection between creativity and the natural world, underscoring the importance of integrating these elements into our projects. It was particularly motivating to see how different CPPs are leveraging natural settings to foster creativity and community engagement.The tour around Barrow was a great addition to the conference. It provided an insightful glimpse into the town’s unique character and its people, drawing several parallels to Redditch. As we explored Barrow, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between our communities – from the shared industrial heritage to the resilient spirit of the people. These commonalities reinforced the idea that, despite geographical distances, our challenges and triumphs are often similar, and there is much we can learn from each other’s experiences.

Overall, the trip was a refreshing and enriching experience. It not only broadened my understanding of how creativity can be nurtured in diverse environments but also strengthened my connections within the CPP network. The inspiration and knowledge gained from this conference will undoubtedly inform and enhance our future projects in Redditch.

As the Community Engagement Manager for Reimagine Redditch, I’ve had the privilege of diving deep into the heartbeat of our town over the past few months. Redditch isn’t just the place I work; it’s my home, and it’s been an incredible journey getting to know its diverse communities on a deeper level.

One of the most inspiring aspects of my role has been witnessing the creativity and passion that exists within our town. From bustling neighbourhoods to quiet corners, every part of Redditch has its own unique story to tell, and I’ve been fortunate to be a part of uncovering these narratives.

Now, as our co-creation projects begin to roll out, I can’t help but feel a surge of excitement. These initiatives aren’t just ideas dreamed up in a boardroom; they’re born from the collective imagination of our community. From the initial spark of inspiration to the final brushstroke, our projects have been shaped by the voices and visions of the people who call Redditch home. From Colours of Redditch to Have a Go to Planting Healthy Minds, I see a Redditch that will transform with colour and creativity.

None of this would be possible without the dedication of our Reimagine Reachers. They are more than just passionate volunteers (you’ll find out more about them in the coming weeks). They are instrumental in bridging the gap between our team and the neighbourhoods we serve. Their passion and commitment have helped to shape our programme in ways we never could have imagined.

At the heart of Reimagine Redditch is a simple yet powerful idea: that creativity has the power to transform lives. Through our projects, we aim to not only beautify our town but also to foster a sense of wellbeing and connection within our community. Whether it’s through a vibrant mural or a community mosaic, we believe that creativity has the ability to inspire, uplift, and unite us all.

As we look to the future, I’m filled with optimism for what lies ahead. Together, we have the opportunity to transform Redditch into a more cultural and vibrant place, where imagination is woven into the fabric of everyday life. But we can’t do it alone.

If you’re passionate about our town and eager to get involved, let’s meet and talk. We could grab a coffee and chat about how you can be a part of this exciting journey. You could also sign up to our newsletter to find out more about our projects and to be the first to learn about activities and events in your community. Together, we can unlock the full potential of Redditch and establish a community where imagination knows no bounds. Let’s create.

By Calvin Tasker, Community Engagement Manager, Reimagine Redditch

I’m Huw and I started working with the Reimagine Redditch team from the get-go back in April 2022. I’ve worked for Bromsgrove District Council and Redditch Borough Council since 1998 and 2011 respectively, and all the work I do in Redditch is with the Reimagine Redditch team. For Reimagine Redditch, I’m a Community Producer, and I’m loving every second.

Working as a part of the new Reimagine Redditch Team has been exciting for me: I’ve loved working with the team and to see a new style of working with communities – the activities are led by them. The team is energetic and passionate, and I’ve loved trying out new creative ideas with communities, which is invaluable for delivering the project. The individuals, groups and organisations I’ve worked with over the years in Redditch are incredible—the work they do with people is incredible, and their ideas are second to none. The Positivity Rocks community public art project, Arts in Redditch Pop Up Galleries (10th anniversary this year) and the Bromsgrove Galloper heritage community public art project are just a few examples of the creative projects I’ve developed with local communities over the years.

I’m currently running the Have a Go! project. It came out of conversations with local people and community partners and it’s based on the Creative Connections pilot project that Reimagine Redditch ran in 2023. During these conversations, we noticed that lots of people experience loneliness and isolation in Redditch and we wanted to develop a creative and community response to it. We put a callout for artists to run workshops at 9 community organisations in venues across the borough – in Feckenham, Crabbs Cross, Batchley and Winyates – and our community panel of Redditch people selected them at a special meeting back in November.

I’ve connected and developed relationships with many more organisations and groups from across Redditch as a result of Have a Go! who are at the heart of Redditch’s communities. We’re halfway through delivering Have a Go! and you can still join us for one by signing up here. Why not come and have a go yourself?

Across Redditch, a new community-based creative project is underway to help tackle the isolation, loneliness, and poor mental health experienced by some members of the community. Spearheaded by the teams at Reimagine Redditch and Redditch District Collaborative, and working closely with both local organisations and social prescribing link workers, Reimagine Redditch aims to reach people who are most vulnerable to isolation and loneliness or who experience mental health issues.

The ‘Have a Go!’ project builds on one of Reimagine Redditch’s early pilot projects, ‘Creative Connections,’ which gave people a chance to try something new while bringing them together as part of a group, in a safe, welcoming, and warm space.

A photograph of Have a go! participants in a collage workshop

‘Have a Go!’ workshops offer artist-led creative activities in small groups. With a wide array of activities ranging from arts and crafts to dance and photography, the project has something to inspire everybody. People are then able to explore their creative potential in sessions led by our unique artists, which are run in partnership with friendly folk from amazing local organisations, including REACH, Inspire, Redditch Library, and more.

A photo of plant bulbs in pots and pussy willow sticks in a Reimagine Redditch workshop

The following creative activities were selected by local people and community representatives:

  • Painting, printmaking, and digital workshops: Participants can immerse themselves in a variety of mediums, learning techniques to create stunning works of art.
  • Arts and crafts: Making objects by hand in a safe space that allows you to express yourself and enjoy the comfort in creativity.
  • Photography: Perfect for those with a passion for capturing moments, these workshops delve into photography techniques, helping participants hone their skills behind the lens.
  • Dance: A celebration of movement and self-expression, from Voguing instruction to Waacking classes.
  • Storytelling and creative writing: Led by poets, playwrights, and facilitators, these workshops cater to all ages, offering opportunities to explore storytelling, creative writing, and design.
  • Visual arts: From nail and thread art to creating portraits, participants can dive into various forms of visual expression, unleashing their creativity in unique ways.
  • Breakdancing and beatboxing: Beyond just physical activity, the focus here is also on mental and physical well-being through expressive and interpretative art forms.
  • Textile and visual arts: Yarn, crochet, knitting, and other textile arts are on offer, fostering connections through shared creativity.
  • Costume design and theatrical workshops: Led by fashion designers and theatre makers, participants can explore the world of costume design and theatrical expression, bringing characters to life on stage.
  • Creative theatre and artistic writing: Led by theatre makers, musicians, and writers, these workshops delve into the realms of creative theatre and storytelling, inspiring participants to express themselves through performance and prose.

Our Spring workshops have already started, with local people enjoying sessions on: Mosaics; Spring Planting; Mapping and Poetry; Astronomy and Poetry; and Jewellery Making. And we’re only halfway through. New participants are still looking forward to sessions on: Printing; Painting and Collage; and Mosaics.

A photo of people writing poetry in a Reimagine Redditch Have a go! workshop

By partnering with local organisations and social prescribing link workers, Reimagine Redditch aims to reach people who may feel left out or left alone. Through shared experiences and collective creativity, the project fosters a sense of belonging and connection within the community.

At a time when mental health challenges and social isolation are all too common, initiatives like ‘Have a Go!’ offer a beacon of hope and safe havens. Whether you’re looking to explore your artistic talents, connect with others, or simply enjoy the comforting reassurance in creativity, there’s a place for you. So why not take a leap of faith and choose to ‘Have a Go!

Huw Moseley is a Producer at Reimagine Redditch.

Our Director, Richard Bromhall, shares his reflections on his first 18 months at Reimagine Redditch.

It seems hard to believe it’s been 18 months since I became Director of Reimagine Redditch. In that time, I’ve made it my business to meet and get to know as many of the people, community organisations and groups, businesses and creatives who make Redditch tick. There are still so many more people to meet, and I can’t wait to continue connecting with the rest of you. Immersing myself in Redditch’s communities has helped me understand what we’re here to do. I believe we’re at the beginning of a very exciting journey to reimagine a Redditch where everyone shapes, takes part in, and has excellent creative experiences.

Help us create redditch's new colour palette

Artwork by GRIN Creative

Reimagine Redditch’s focus is developing gradually. Effectively a startup, we’ve recruited a brilliant team of people over the last year to deliver on this vision, and this includes the incredible Reimagine Reachers, individuals from Redditch who form our community panel and who help us make decisions about what we do, who we work with, and who we commission. In November, they selected the creatives who will facilitate the Have a Go! sessions this winter and spring. In January, they picked the new brand we’re developing, and, in March, they will shortlist the options for a new colour palette that we’re co-creating with everyone in Redditch.

We’ve been to see creative projects together in Birmingham and Worcester to inspire us, and we’ve got plans to go to Derby to see more soon. We’re on the hunt for more people to join this group of people, and we’ll be announcing how you can get involved very soon.

What has been so exciting about working at Reimagine Redditch over the last year and a half is that we’ve not stopped for a minute in that time. Our first bit of activity started in January 2022. We worked with 5 community partners, delivered 12 different creative activities, and brought together around 500 people. From crafting and drumming workshops, to spoken word activities and film, residents who took part formed new bonds and tried out new activities they’d never tried before. In fact, so inspired was one participant that she left the workshop and went straight out and bought a pair of bongos!

A photo of a group playing drums at a Reimagine Redditch workshop

Photograph by Calvin Tasker

If one thing has struck me over the last year, it’s the vibrant creative work that happens in everyday places. Spoz’s Speak Your Mind spoken word night brings together local and national poets to perform and share their work in a community space – at the OId Needleworks. I enjoyed meeting Woodrow residents at their art group recently; some knitted, others drew, and I enjoyed doing some colouring in while we chatted and got to know each other. This rich creative community is one of the reasons why we partnered with the fabulous Batchley Support Group and Redditch BID to create our own creative event in an everyday space: Beach on the Green. It was Redditch’s first ever beach, in the town centre, outdoors, and accessible (it was entirely free for visitors). What was great about how we went about it is that residents in Batchley told us what they thought should appear at the beach – a steel band, DJ, puppets – and that’s exactly what we programmed. More than 4,000 people came out to the beach over 3 days, even on a very wet Saturday, but it didn’t dampen spirits. The possibilities of working in places so that everyone can get to them is exciting and it’s one of Redditch’s assets. I can’t wait to do more of it in 2024.

A photo of children playing at the beach on the green event hosted by Reimagine Redditch

Photograph by Cassandra McGowan

I’ve witnessed an enormous amount of creative work over the last 18 months, but I know that there is lots more to see and more work to do – and the potential of that is very exciting. Reimagine Redditch’s role, alongside the local authority, the Cultural Compact, and our community and business partners is to grow creative opportunities in Redditch so that everyone, every single person, no matter their background or experience, has the choice to take part in something creative. Watch this space!