Before the holidays we were briefed on a live, participatory practice based project lasting 6 weeks called the Tetley Feast involving the new Tetley centre that myself and my fellow second and first year VisCom students at Leeds College of Art will be participating in. We were each assigned a community group that we will be working with, the first years will be documenting the project and myself and fellow second years will be responding to each group differently and planning, designing, making and doing something for a community event at The Tetley on the 12th February. With our aim being to present the diversity of south Leeds community to a wider audience within a contemporary art context.

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our challenges are:

  • It has to be temporary, have impact and be full of energy.
  • respond to the space
  • respond to the brief and communicate the community groups to a wider audience
  • inclusive and sensitive to all groups involved and local community
  • work together an involve the groups as much as possible

I was assigned The Hunslet club as the community organisation I would be working with, so as I know little about them I decided it would be wise to research them…

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“The Hunslet Club has been meeting the needs of thousands of young people in South Leeds for over seventy years. The club provides a wide ranging evening and weekend programme of youth based activities including football, musical theatre, boxing, Irish dance, performing arts, cheerleading, gymnastics, hip hop, ballet and other leisure activities for over 2,000 young people per week to help them reach their full potential.”

This group seem constantly actively involved in the community and keeping youth active. Providing activities they may not otherwise get a chance to participate in making it in my opinion almost invaluable because they aren’t just providing something for the community, but they’re providing experiences too.

They also have much information on what they’ve done over the years, as they’ve been working actively in the community for over 50 years.

  • “In 1940 Hunslet was home to thousands of workers who filled the busy factories of South Leeds. There were few facilities for recreation for the young before they joined the services. In the early days during the war and just after, Hunslet was the most heavily industrialized district of South Leeds.Mills, chemical works and factories all contributed to the war effort and to the grime of cobbled streets and back-to-back houses They were dark days of dusk till dawn blackouts, air raid sirens, searchlights and reinforced cellars conditions were often grim, times were hard, family resources were as limited as personal aspirations.
  • As the 1950’s approached social changes were taking place, which would challenge youth and community work. The great festival of Britain was celebrated with galas, dances, carnival parades, exhibitions and a club trip to London. In 1950 there was a grand 10th anniversary celebration at the club Christmas party. It was attended by the Lord Mayor of Leeds it was a milestone in the clubs history.
  • In 1960, Dr Wyllie, the clubs founder sadly died. A local authority re-development programmed had commenced. It was to include the demolition of local housing and, eventually, the compulsory purchase by local authority of the Waterloo Road premises. Many families were re-housed in other areas and this effected membership figures for a while. In response Hunslet Boys Club took on a wider community role, positive workers links were developed with allied agencies, schools and employers. The Club shared its strengths in joint projects such as Intermediate Treatment for Young Offenders and Duke of Edinburgh award activities. There was a steady intake of boys on referral from Social Services and the probation Service.
  • The money was raised and building of the new club commenced – it was to have a main hall and stage, gymnasium, activity and craft rooms, the Kirby chapel, changing rooms and storage space, girls lounge and facilities, a quiet study room as well as a lounge/common room. Outside was a floodlit play area with access to playing fields. And a caretaker’s flat provided security for the premises.
  • By the early 80’s there was general alarm at widespread inner city riots by disaffected youths. The Secretary of State for the environment announced £95 million aid for inner cities. Youth and community services considered their role in rebuilding relationships between the police and local communities and in working with young people in multi racial settings. The club was ideally located with the right facilities and infrastructure to make a telling impact on the local youth unemployment situation over and above the positive work already going on with existing members.
  • The 1990’s got off to a flying start with a Jubilee Reunion. Fathers sons, uncles and cousins spanning the generations of membership came from far and wide to celebrate 50 years of the club. When most other clubs were struggling to make ends meet, Hunslet after a full and comprehensive survey bravely embarked on a positive programmed of improvement and development.
  • The beginning of the 21st Century has seen the club continue to grow from strength to strength with the expansion and development of a programme of vocational training opportunities for young people during the day. Schools across the area were soon learning that the Club had the facilities and teaching staff to train young people in vital and varied work related skills such as car and bike mechanics, construction, hair dressing and beautician skills. Hundreds of pupils have been sent from schools to the club and gained invaluable accredited qualifications.”

It is clear from this that the Hunslet club have played a huge role in the supporting of growth and community of south Leeds. I think it would be important to make this aware during the event that we come to hold. But i also think that the activities and events they hold an have held in the past means that its vital for this to be an event full of life and celebration, a positive coming together of a community and those who have helped it bloom and keep strong.

I look forward to meeting and working with them.
http://thetetley.org/

http://www.hunsletclub.org.uk/

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