At the heart of our 3-Year MANY VOICES project is the ONE VOICE group – a creative steering group made up of a group of local women representing the various cultural, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds of women in Calderdale. These women met over the course of the TNL Community Fund ‘Creative Communities’ project, where trust and friendships were forged through creative self-expression. They are all passionate about the creative arts, and what they can do together to continue the ‘journey’ and to increase opportunities for other local women. They are committed to working together to give a ‘voice’ to the thoughts and concerns of women from some of our most marginalised groups and communities.

One Voice meets for one creative session per month – to talk, to share, to create.

The group also go on visits to cultural events across the region – to stimulate ideas and conversation, and to broaden the women’s understanding of how ‘the arts’ can be used to address / impact on social and community issues.

Since they began meeting in September ’18 the women have attended:

‘HER STORY exhibition @Touchstones, Rochdale – a powerful and provocative collection of artwork by some of the world’s leading women artists.

‘A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad)’ by touring theatre company SilentUproarPro – a fabulous show about not feeling fabulous all the time.

‘Green Door’ by Ann Brown @ 53two in Manchester – one-woman’s story of strength, courage, power and resilience.

‘Wallflower’ @Square Chapel Arts – an amazing interactive show about ‘remembered’ dance by Manchester- based Quarantine

“I’ve never been to a theatre, to a gallery in my life before. I’ve never been to a restaurant, for a walk in the countryside before I did this. Now I’ve done all these things, supported by these women. I’ve even been on stage – something I’d dreamed of doing all my life – I was shaking, but I did it … because these women gave me the strength. Together we can achieve anything, go anywhere!” Lora, One Voice

In Spring 2019 the group worked with commissioned artist Carolyn Mendelsohn. Carolyn devised a series of creative / drama sessions, exploring notions of identity, female empowerment and ‘shared experience’. A pop-up workshop performance featuring the women themselves was held to an open audience at Square Chapel Arts. This was the first time any of this group of women had ever performed on stage. It was also the first time the women had been given a chance to engage directly with an ‘audience’ and shape a conversation about things that really matter to them.

“I felt like I was flying. It exhausted me emotionally but now I want to go on and do more and more. I feel as a group we can do anything … no matter how frightening it is, because as a group we believe in and support each other!” Jess, One Voice

“Very moving but really full of hope. It goes to show what power the creative arts have. It was so brilliant piece of play, I felt very emotional. I can say I was even crying few times. Thank you for this amazing time.” Joskura, Audience member

Watch a short film of the women talking about their experiences on the project here:


We are grateful to Big Lottery Fund and Community Foundation for Calderdale and our partner Square Chapel Arts Centre for making this project happen.

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