verd de gris’ work is about increasing levels of understanding and tolerance regarding age, race, culture and identity in communities across the North of England. In 2015 we were give the chance to extend our work here in Calderdale, working in partnership with Michaela O’Sullivan and the outreach team at Square Chapel Centre for the Arts. We wanted to show how creative projects like ours, that draw on social history, a sense of place, a diversity of culture, can lead to a deeper understanding of issues affecting particular, harder to reach communities and develop mechanisms that help them articulate and express problems and concerns in a meaningful manner.

In the second year of this Creative Communities partnership work in Calderdale, we drew inspiration from our newly-formed connection with Pavel Botos and the local Roma community in central Halifax. Pavel is an emigre from the Czech Republic and, as a political activist and spokesman for his ‘people’. During our conversations with Pavel he said something quite profound about the persecution of the Roma in his native Slovakia, and about the importance of music and culture to the ‘survival’ of Roma identity:

“Our people have never been free. We will never be free. But our music sets us free.”

We used this statement as a creative touchstone for our work with groups of people from across Calderdale during the year – to explore ways in which the notion of ‘freedom’ can be expressed and shared through creativity”

Here’s an overview of the work produced:

The year’s work including developing an exciting programme of activity with schools, colleges and targeted groups – you can find details of the FIVE projects by clicking on the links below:

Roma Community Celebration
Women at Whitestone
Calderdale College Performing Arts
Music Sets Us Free – Animation Project
Dance4Fun – Intergenerational Project

“TOGETHER WE HAVE A VOICE! To show the world who we are and that we are here! I am proud to be Gypsy because I can see things differently and I’m not judging people by their skin colour or their appearance…I am judging by heart!” Sowerby High School Student

“I feel that by using creativity to show people’s stories does have a greater impact. We all share the love of music and creativity and by showing someone’s story with such creativity really draws people in and I feel it helps others understand the emotions and story we are trying to portray.” Calderdale College student

The Creative Communities (Stronger Together) programme is supported with funding from the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund.

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