Wednesday, 19 June 2019

NEWS: Multi-media performance explores real-life migration stories in Manchester.

Making Manchester: A powerful new work about home, migration and belonging.
Olympias Music Foundation awarded £22,650 from Arts Council England towards collaborative multi-media performance exploring 60 real-life migration stories to Manchester.

Manchester Culture Award 2018 winners, Olympias Music, will be leading a bold new project in conjunction with Dean Trust Ardwick secondary school (DTA) this month. Making Manchester explores communities' shared experiences of migration, through live music, poetry and physical theatre. Music workshops at DTA facilitated by acclaimed musicians, Kabantu, the Vonnegut Collective and James Whittle, will culminate in two performances at the Niamos Radical Arts Centre on 27th and 28th June. An additional performance will also take place at the Royal Northern College of Music on 30th October, as part of their ‘New Music Manchester’ festival.

Research and development for Making Manchester began in 2017 with meetings between Manchester charity, Olympias Music, and historians from Our Migration Story, winners of The Guardian ‘Research Impact Award 2019’. In June 2018, Olympias Music and Our Migration Story led 6 weeks of oral history and writing workshops with Year 9 pupils at Dean Trust Ardwick. 95% of the pupils involved were from BAME backgrounds. The result was 60 unique family histories, researched and written by the pupils there. The next stage of the project is to develop this material into a multi-media performance, with the help of pupils from DTA.

Jo Yee, the Director of Olympias Music, says “in true keeping with the charity’s spirit, the entire work is rooted in the ideas and experiences of the 60 pupils from DTA. At a time when migrants’ experiences are still often mis-portrayed and/or underrepresented, and access to arts education is increasingly scarce, I think this project is really important in highlighting the problems created by an ‘us and them’ mentality”.

The final performance will be divided into three sections - ‘Home’, ‘Travelling’ and ‘Arriving’ - delineated by a large-scale poem by Shamshad Khan with performances by Kabantu, Vonnegut Collective, four actors, and directed by Emma Doherty. The show culminates in a 60-strong choir of the pupils from DTA, performing the words and music that they have devised from their own stories.

James Whittle, Making Manchester composer, says “this dialogic form of collaboration is so important for growing confidence, trust, and openness in a community. Whenever you work with a group, you understand that everyone involved is an individual artist. I think it's absolutely right that the next generation have platforms to tell their stories and tackle contemporary issues.”

Two performances of Making Manchester will take place at the Niamos Radical Arts Centre at 7:30pm on 27th and 28thJune, followed by a post-show Q&A. Tickets are £5 and are available online from Skiddle, Tickets For Good, or on the door. For more information, visit

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