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Buildings

That
Breathe
a project by the

Derby
Dance
Centre

Interim Report 2006


Simon Redgrave

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What is “Buildings That Breathe”?

Buildings That Breathe is a celebration of the intriguing, private, public, forgotten and celebrated spaces and places to be found in
Normanton, one of Derby's most inspiring and misrepresented communities. For over one year, homegrown talent came together with
transantional expertise to explore local cultures and environments, creating events, music, dance, spoken word and multi-media.Part of
their “Urban Myths” programme - launched in April 2004 and embracing urban sports and arts – the Derby Dance Centre built on the
legacy of The Hip Hop Happening, which gave young people participatory and volunteering opportunities during June and July 2004,
culminating in a one day festival at Normanton Park on 31 July.

Buildings That Breathe is an ambitous eighteen month programme spanning commissioning, performance and production, exhibitions,
education and professional development with strong emphasis on capacity building for artists and collectives.Sustaining a year round
outreach and "cultural community development" in Normanton would stretch the skills of the Derby Dance Centre team. A key factor
which influenced the planning, development, potential partnerships and funding base for the lead-up programme and final event, was the
departure of the Centre’s director and the subsequent vacant post until
September 2006. Whilst they endeavoured to retain the key elements of the
original proposal, practical issues inevitably had to tailor the degree of
attention some areas would be afforded.

All of the key outputs - dance, music, spoken word and written word, visual
and graffiti art - all required either successful community development
through outreach or the commissioning and performances of complex work.
The first ten 10 month of Buildings That Breathe focused on community
development culminating in the “a park less ordinary” performance and is
the focus of this evaluation. The program of work then continues in late 2006
with the development of a Normanton based Dance Film which will be the
subject of a separate evaluation.

This evaluation attempts to answer eight key questions put forward for
discussion, and acts as an aid for further planning. The project is also more
generally known as the Normanton Transnational Project.

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Elements of the Buildings That Breathe programme
BTB: Where you Live
One focus of the project has been the 8 months of community development work based in Normanton’s
community centres. Existing groups and their leaders have further developed their skills, and new
groups have been formed giving young people in the area additional opportunities. These regular
activities, along side one-off taster workshops have encourage people in the area to recognise their
creative potential. Many of these young people were performing as part of “a park less ordinary”.

BTB: Building Blocks


In November 2005, a small group of session leaders visited Rotterdam to attend Culp Act Urban
Theatre Festival and performed in the finale of Black Soil Urban Film Festival, expanding their horizons,
skills and confidence. Rotterdam’s Hip Hop Huis - one of the Netherlands top break dance crews -
returned in April to work with young people in the area to create performance work which they shared at
the end of the week’s residency.

BTB: Your Normanton


This programme has sought to explore people’s thoughts and responses to the Normanton area. The
outcome of this research has led to the creation of a unique pack of cards. Each card shows a space or
a place that has a special meaning or a memory. They help people find a sense of the city when their
home may be far away and have been used by dancers, artists and musicians as a starting point in
creative planning.

BTB: a park less ordinary


The culmination of this programme of activity was a performance in Normanton’s Arboretum Park on
Sunday 4 June. Community based musicians and dancers worked with Filip Van Huffel of Retina Dance
and composer Jules Maxwell to create a unique event to compliment the surroundings of this recently
restored park.

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Executive Summary

1. How well did the project to nurture their professional


provide regular high quality arts  Offering opportunities to a breadth development and for them to
activity for dance, music, of potential participants, including engage fully in delivering the
spoken word & writing, visual & children, shows people in project's aims.
graffiti arts within key Normanton that the Dance Centre
Normanton Community Centres is committed to an inclusive way of  This "core group of individual
and open spaces? working. leaders" was given every
opportunity for professional
 The Dance Centre used effective  The Project Team were very development and performance as
and timely marketing, including effective at dealing with practical part of the programme, and
word of mouth, to promote the issues that arose, and together they solved problems
activities connected with the understanding the needs and which would have been very
project. Sometimes the audience habits of the audience and difficult everyone had been directed
simply exist, and in these cases the practitioners, but without an from the centre.
Project Team had the courage to Executive Officer some decisions
adapt medium and short term had to be arrived at through  Sometimes it was difficult for the
plans. negotiation and debate, and so Steering Group to ascertain and
took more time and effort than they take action on elements of the
 Derby Dance Centre enjoys a might otherwise have done proposal which were hard for artists
valuable working relationship with to put into practical effect. In future
local venues and organisations in 2. How well did the project some advance contingency
the Normanton area. This enable the development of a planning and flexibility in the
relationship involves a high degree core group of individual leaders, delivery plan would alleviate this.
of trust and reflects the drawn from diverse groups with
professionalism of staff at the co-ordinated partnership  The Derby Dance Centre team took
Centre, staff on site, and the working and networking? personal responsibility in a "hands
project workers who carrying out on" and proactive manner to
the project’s aims. This relationship  The creative circle close to the ensure that this "core group" were
was of paramount importance in Dance Centre represents a unique given practical support and were
delivering the regularity and the asset to the organisation. The able to concentrate on delivery of
quality of the arts activities "Buildings that Breathe" their artistic responsibilities
envisaged. programme provided opportunities

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3. How well was ICT used to effect ways of working. weaknesses, such as the stress
regular dialogue or create forums on writing over music, might also
to increase the potential to share &  The planned Mediaworks film of the have been remedied at a very
reflect on good practice and Park Less Ordinary performance early stage.
exchange ideas? will capitalise on the depth and
variety of the events of the day and  At this interim stage the project
It is worthwhile having a clear the opportunity to view, share and has developed very well,
picture what it is that the project download it will bring the project delivering worthwhile outreach
wants to share and make available. highlights to others sessions and artistic development
Giving a forum for transnational which together have engendered
discussion or for the sharing of a great deal of genuine
music, images and video clips in the 5. How effective was a longer enthusiasm. The project as a
vein of MySpace might find a more programme of project work in whole would have benefited from
appreciative audience. allowing for increased local a tighter definition brief; there is
artist training at observer, also an abundance of titles
If developing ICT skills is an support and lead level, associated with the project -
important objective for the increasing potential for long Urban Myths, Buildings that
programme, then this should be term employment opportunities? Breathe, Writing on the Wall,
returned to later. There is no reason Where you Live, Building Blocks,
why the Writers’ Group Forum could  The Project Team and Project A Park Less Ordinary, etc which
not be picked up again at an Officer worked together very may not have implied the looked-
appropriate time. competently and displayed for sense of unity and coherence
experience and ingenuity in to artists and the public.
solving problems and organising
4. How effective was the creative strand delivery, substituting other  A great deal has been delivered
use of ICT within technical activities if necessary. Sometimes by the Project Team, Derby Dance
performance, creative project and there were difficulties without an Centre staff and the "Core Group"
documentary fields? Executive Officer, both because of artists that they have built
this was a very demanding around them. The longer
 The experience and skills of the programme on staff time and also programme of project work has
Derby Dance Centre staff and the because some difficulties had to allowed for increased local artist
Project Team were able to ensure be solved by negotiation as they training at observer, support and
that all project participants were able overlapped people's fields of lead level; the next few months
to employ modern and professional expertise. Any inherent will reveal if this has increased

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potential for long term employment opportunities.

6. How effectively were links future for nurturing the links and
developed to emerging networks what level of input it envisages  The work of Derby Dance Centre is
of UK and European urban these groups and networks having highly regarded by agencies and
dance theatre / young people's in the organisation. professionals working in
forums and organisations which Normanton and concerned with the
can be nurtured further? 7. Were there benefits of cultural development of Derby. The
partnership working to Dance Centre needs to continue to
 The transnational exchange was a streamline investments and find and work with those on ground
bold move on the part of the Derby build creative infrastructure in who have talents yet to be utilised,
Dance Centre. The Project Team which to nurture and develop while looking to move on its current
and staff members were able to vibrant young talent within “core group” into positions where
coordinate the exchange of ideas, Normanton? they can help strengthen the
plans and people across Europe. “creative infrastructure” that this
The combined influences of Fillip  The two-day hot-housed project seeks to develop.
van Huffel and Hip Hop Huis gave consultation that Derby Dance set
the Buildings that Breathe up was an excellent way of starting 8. How effective was the project
programme a unique feel the project; in line with the best as a focal point to utilise
policies of the sector. It generated positive promotion and
 The five key music groups a great deal of excitement and dissemination of good practice
developed to support the “Park goodwill, and encourage a positive on local, regional and European
Less Ordinary” performance also attitude that enthused partners. levels via identified &
contained artists whose researched networks and links
backgrounds, like Janelle Xavier,  “Buildings that Breathe” as a provided via support partners
could be considered transnational. project was so complex that it and stakeholders?
In the future it might be profitable to sometimes felt like it was a series
look at “transnational” dancers, of partnerships of it’s own
musicians, etc. who are already  The project was an effective advert
invention. Named schemes and for itself - it tried to remove access
here, and give them their own workshops sequences, “Buildings
forum in the project. barriers by locating work at centres
that Breathe”, “Urban Myths”, people could get to easily on foot or
“Writing on the Wall,” “Where You bus, and avoid the need for private
 Derby Dance will need to decide Live” etc. sometimes had the effect
who will take responsibility in the cars. A family audience base was
of “gilding the lily.” envisaged from the start; people

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would see people they knew on
stage and want to get involved or  It isn’t necessary to have a wide
spread the word, knowledge of national or
international nuances to build
 One of the aims as set down in the worth in a transnational context;
revised funding document was to the key factor is to be an expert
raise community aspirations and on your own local environment
reveal Normanton as a vibrantly and local people, and to meet
creative community. Those their specific needs effectively.
enthused by the project will make Buildings that Breathe is an
its best advocates. exemplary project

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1. Regular high quality arts activity for dance, music, spoken word & writing, visual &
graffiti arts within key Normanton Community Centres and open spaces.
“This project will be like a dream for them, a little dream come true" - Neema Gautma, Shakti Arts
(Dance)
The importance of location to the ethos and delivery of the “Buildings that Breathe” programme cannot be overstressed. While the
symbol and subject matter of the project were site specific heritage and the built environment, theme was a tertiary consideration
behind providing opportunities in Normanton, and ensuring that these were accessible to Normanton citizens. The emphasis
placed by the funders on measuring impact via postcode collection provided a focus for this. It is important to highlight that all
activities delivered in the project gave opportunities for the development of artists and venues, as well as making arts
programming available to the public.

"Buildings That Breathe" was an ambitious project; to sustain an eighteen month programme of "cultural community
development" in Normanton required stretching the skills of the Derby Dance Centre and their “core group of individual leaders”.
Firstly it was a sizable commitment from artists and venues, which the project team addressed by looking to develop the skills and
capacity of community partners. Secondly a continual programme of performance and participation involved marketing and
promoting the sessions effectively and establishing the idea of the project in the public domain. Thirdly that this programme was to
involve more than one artform, and it would be in addition to the Dance Centre's regular schedule of work was bound to put
pressure on the Project Team. This was especially true as the key outputs - dance, music, spoken word and written word, visual
and graffiti art - all required either successful community development through outreach or the commissioning and performances
of complex work.

The keys to delivery of regular dance activity over the eighteen month duration of the programme were the “Where You Live”
Community Development sessions. “Activity” does not imply “performance”, but due to the nature of dance practice, every session
gives public attendees more opportunity to cross the line between and as audience and practitioner. Sessions were lead by
Neema Gautma, Lian Whitlam, David Barker, Leon Hayward and Louise Collinson. These took place at off site locations such as
Apna Madeley, and the Mandela and Open Centres. These centres all have their own successful practices of local engagement
and client groups, and were well known to participants. Derby Dance Centre had built up trusted relationships with these venues,
which enabled close partnership working in an atmosphere of positivity, and sense of building towards a common goal which was
reflected in the participants I spoke with over the year.

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Sarah Duff and Ceri Stevens worked with young children at local schools such as Normanton Infants and St. James’ Infants, as
well on the relaunch of the Arboretum. This marked the project’s first public engagement and got across the message that dance
was an accessible and healthy activity. This was particularly appealing to families with young children who are part of the target
group in Normanton. This work complemented the work by the other project workers at schools such as Benrose, Litleover and
Derby Moor, and gave the sense of a rounded and inclusive approach to outreach.

The six Writers’ Workshops run at the Open Centre by poet and animateur Spice were promoted by the Dance Centre and
designed to lead into the Online Writer’s Forum. Despite the attendance of four young people, the demand that was expected for
them did not materialise. In general the Dance Centre moved quickly to “swap out” activities that didn’t work as planned, and the
Online Forum was replaced with three heritage-based photography trails, and six montage based workshops that drew in nearly
forty people. The modular nature of the project’s activities, and the difficulty of promoting and keeping constantly in the public eye
a linked eighteen month programme of events meant that “chopping and changing” did not adversely effect the way the public’s
perception of the project.

This was followed by the Retina residencies, in preparation for the “Park Less Ordinary” dance piece, which formed the
centrepiece of this phase of the project. Fillip van Huffel worked with Louise Collinson on rehearsing and developing the dancers
in this performance. Louise also ensured that costumes were fabricated for the dancers to wear which carried on the themes of
“Buildings That Breathe’s” heritage strand, and which tied the ideas of the project together. Louise’s professionalism and
commitment were commended by all of the dancers that I spoke to.

The Derby Dance Centre team were able to continue developing the strands of the project and deliver its outputs as successfully
as they did because each member of the project team was highly proficient in their own practice, and meetings were focused on
problem solving and delivering the stated objectives of the project. While the Derby Dance Centre as a whole were short handed
and lacked an executive decision maker, the Project Team had a joint decision making approach which meant that they were able
to draw up plans that were workable from the moment they were agreed. This is in contrast to Senior Management Teams which
might consist of top tier staff who are not sector professionals, agreeing resolutions that need to be interpreted by their staff before
they can be executed.

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1 - Key Points

 Derby Dance Centre enjoys a valuable working relationship with local


venues and organisations in the Normanton area. This relationship
involves a high degree of trust and reflects the professionalism of
staff at the Centre, staff on site, and the project workers who carrying
out the project’s aims. This relationship was of paramount importance
in delivering the regularity and the quality of the arts activities
envisaged.

 Offering opportunities to a breadth of potential participants, including


children, shows people in Normanton that the Dance Centre is
committed to an inclusive way of working.

 The Dance Centre used effective and timely marketing, including


word of mouth, to promote the activities connected with the project.
Sometimes the audience simply exist, and in these cases the Project
Team had the courage to adapt medium and short term plans.

 The Project Team were very effective at dealing with practical issues
that arose, and understanding the needs and habits of the audience
and practitioners, but without an Executive Officer some decisions
had to be arrived at through negotiation and debate, and so took
more time and effort than they might otherwise have done

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2. The development of a core group of individual leaders, drawn from diverse groups with
co-ordinated partnership working and networking
"What appealed to me about working with the other members of the extended team was the flexibility;
do it in your own way, find your way to work together" Adam Gallagher - Carpet Ride (Drums and
Rhythm)

In many respects the long term success and development of Derby Dance Centre is dependent on a proactive, experienced and
adept pool of professional and semi professional dancers, MCs, musicians and other performers. This network of creative talent
already exists, and sits at the "outer circle" of the organisation and the "inner circle" of the public realm. Many are already
associated with the work of the centre and are identified with its outlook. Without Derby Dance Centre they would have few
opportunities for professional growth; here the possibility to cross the line between audience and performer.

The existence of a group of trusted partners or clients who are able to stimulate as well as respond to fashion and public interest is
a tremendous asset to any arts organisation, and makes Derby Dance's programme immediate and collegiate. In "Buildings that
Breathe" it was apparent in the way that Trinity supported the work of Hip Hop Haus in the community, and that the Shakti
performers, both in the commissioned piece and their own Bhangra piece on the day.

This "core group of individual leaders" requires and desires continual opportunities for development and support which can only be
provided by an established professional organisation such as Derby Dance. One far sighted and successful thread was to find
ways to both nurture them creatively and challenge them artistically. The relationship built up over time between the Dance Centre
and groups such as Shakti and Trinity - as well as versatile and talented individuals like Spice and Corey Mwamba - is enhanced
by opportunities for them to work together in self regulating teams and environments. The trip to Rotterdam as part of the
transnational exchange was an occasion to stretch them outside of familiar surroundings. Musicians involved in the "Park Less
Ordinary" procession were tested to respond and in their own manner and style, collectively unified and seamlessly shared.

Corey Mwamba's solution was to put the performance beat for the Arboretum Park performance - the Pulse - onto his website and
disseminate it digitally. This was inspired and highly successful. It provided a focal point for the local musicians and MCs to
organise around in the frequently fraught run up to the performance on Sunday 4th June All the musicians that I spoke with
commended his ingenuity and his ability to make the project come alive for them. Janelle Xavier worked very hard at building a
group at short notice and with a great deal of outreach work to do. As it was she was able to motivate them so well that only one
musician dropped out, and when another musician - Steve - turned up on the day she was able to integrate him into the

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performance. Obi had the confidence to adapt the timing of the Pulse to the style of his MCs and his own audience, without losing
the commonality that all the musicians were seeking on the day. Poet and animateur Spice was able at short notice to create a
performance piece for "A Park Less Ordinary" which fitted in seamlessly with everyone else's because she had been involved with
the project from the original visioning day.

Throughout the project Derby Dance kept the project's creative talent as free as possible by using the Steering Group to monitor
delivery and support practice, even if it meant key staff coming out to ensure evaluation and monitoring forms were filled out.
Funding specific requirements, such as collating session evaluation data like postcodes and ongoing recording of milestones was
handled effectively and conscientiously by the project co-ordinator, leaving group leaders free to deal with practical problems and
set about delivering better performance. Derby Dance gave sufficient opportunity for support and feedback to all of the extended
team, although sometimes difficulties arose where situations occurred which were out of the range of the original proposal, such
as the low turnout for the Writer's Workshops, or the pressure on the musicians for the final performance.

2 - Key Points

 The creative circle close to the Dance Centre represents a unique


asset to the organisation. The "Buildings that Breathe" programme
provided opportunities to nurture their professional development and
for them to engage fully in delivering the project's aims.

 This "core group of individual leaders" was given every opportunity


for professional development and performance as part of the
programme, and together they solved problems which would have
been very difficult everyone had been directed from the centre.

 Sometimes it was difficult for the Steering Group to ascertain and


take action on elements of the proposal which were hard for artists
to put into practical effect. In future some advance contingency
planning and flexibility in the delivery plan would alleviate this.

 The Derby Dance Centre team took personal responsibility in a


"hands on" and proactive manner to ensure that this "core group"
were given practical support and were able to concentrate on
delivery of their artistic responsibilities.

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3. Use of ICT to effect regular dialogue of forums to increase the potential to share &
reflect on good practice and exchange ideas
"The cards were splendid and my nine year old daughter is busy devising a game to play with them.
Many thanks." Max Craven, Local Historian
The original Buildings That Breathe brief laid stress on the use of Information Communication Technology as a tool for research.
This seemed quite sensible, as the subtext to the project was the uncovering and sharing of collective and individual heritage,
looking at common cultural values and using the “Urban” tag as a way into transnational dialogue. It was discussed and expected
that the project must look to support participants from the Derby Dance Centre base, and also promote and liase with local
providers - such as the Peartree library - to endeavor to meet the needs of residents who might not have access to a computer at
home or work. It was thought that in particular participants in the Writers’ Group would want to use the internet for developing their
ideas and looking at the best practice from similar groups, and exploring how their work might be integrated with the dance
performance.

Moving beyond this, participants might have chosen to use word processing software or voice recorders to create and share their
own narratives. It was further envisaged that this would lead to an online Writers' Forum which would later complement the
transnational strand of the programmed. The Writers' Workshops, despite running from September 2005 to February 2006 were
not successful as originally envisaged, and the Online Writers’ Forum was not developed. Instead the Buildings that Breathe web
presence became an off shoot of the Urban Myths website (http://www.urbanmyths.org/default.aspx) which was run as a public
information source. This promoted opportunities to volunteer, as well as a comprehensive listing of events and travel information.

It was decided to commit some of the money saved on the deferred Writers’ Forum into a series of photography and montage
based heritage workshops. A deck of cards was created highlighting local landmarks and expressing a wide variety of residents
unique personal interpretations of their meaning and importance. These cards were printed out and distributed in the conventional
fashion, and also placed on the website where they could be printed out.

Janelle Xavier, one of the musicians’ group leaders told me that she had the cards in front of her when she played, and used them
as a medium to discuss and explore the purpose and aims of the project, and the thoughts and feelings of other participants.

Possibly the greatest exemplar for the use of ICT to share and reflect on good practice was the decision by Corey Mwamba to put
the beat created by Jules Maxwell; the so called “Pulse” of the Heart of The Park, onto his website. This enabled it to be
downloaded, uploaded, modified, shared and discussed, in the minimum of time, and disseminating the music to all of the
participants as quickly as possible was one of the key factors in the success of the local music groups on the day.

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3 - Key Points
 If developing ICT skills is an
important objective for the
programme, then this should be
returned to later. There is no
reason why the Writers’ Group
Forum could not be picked up
again at an appropriate time.

 It is worthwhile having a clear


picture what it is that the project
wants to share and make
available. Giving a forum for
transnational discussion or for the
sharing of music, images and
video clips in the vein of MySpace
might find a more appreciative
audience.

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4. Creative use of ICT within technical performance, creative project and documentary
fields
“The easiest and quickest way for everyone to get the information they needed was online” Corey
Mwamba, Musician
The use of a high level of Information and Communication Technology in music and performance is now taken for granted, and
audiences expect the levels of subtlety and flexibility this can provide, even in acoustic music performance. Accordingly
computerised music software was used by many of musicians involved to create, manipulate and sequence their sound. The
professionalism and complexity of these performances and the commissioned pieces for the “Park Less Ordinary” event meant
that the Project Team took the decision to move the staging from low infrastructure provision to a secure raised dance floor and a
professional PA system. This was resourced by savings made on the cost of Music Residencies, and gave a more impactful
presentation on the day. Mark Richards, the Stage Manager and Technical Lead were careful to monitor the sound levels, and
only one complaint was received.

Across the project, Buildings That Breathe made several exemplary uses of ICT to enhance the performance and increase levels
of participation. For example, it became apparent that a stage appearance by the Muslim girls from the Apna Madely Girls Group
would be problematic due cultural concerns. The dancers had been working on Street Dance and Bollywood Dance with Lian
Whitlam and Neema Guatma for many weeks. A creative decision was made to record the sounds of their dance pieces and play
them back on the day, so that their work would still be a part of the day. This also created an enigmatic and stylish art installation.

In working on and delivering outreach work with the public, ICT was used to capture immediate and intimate personal responses.
The local heritage trail work that lead to the production of the “Deck of Cards” gave digital cameras to the participants so they
could take pictures of “their” Derby, “their” Normanton and “their” Arboretum. A small laptop was brought along so that every one
could see and select a key image of each building or space they had chosen, and type in their own comments on the spot. A
similar technology based response to the project’s heritage strand was taken up by Corey Mwamba in his Creative Partnerships
work in local schools, where he used a combined MP3 recorder and digital camera to record the sounds of pupils traveling
between locations photographed using the camera, and also recording the ambient sounds associated with places suggested by
the pupils.

Q Arts had recommended the participatory artist Angela Terris as someone who could unpack the work done in the heritage based
photography sessions and make supplementary work that would bring in a communal feel. Working in March 2006 at the St
James’ and Apna Madely Centres she montaged images from the session participants in Photoshop, and used a digital projector
to blow them up on a large sheet of artboard. Workshop attendees over six sessions used this as a map to create giant collages

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using found objects and other materials. These were then manually cut up and rephotographed to make the Buildings That
Breathe cards, and also used for publicity and design purposes.

4 - Key Points
 The experience and skills of the Derby Dance Centre
staff and the Project Team were able to ensure that all
project participants were able to employ modern and
professional ways of working.

 The planned Mediaworks film of the Park Less


Ordinary performance will capitalise on the depth and
variety of the events of the day and the opportunity to
view, share and download it will bring the project
highlights to others.

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5. A Longer programme of project work allows for increased local artist training at
observer, support and lead level, increasing potential for long term employment
opportunities
"Even though I was closely involved with developing the musical strand, the build up didn't give you
any idea of the impact of the day." Adam Gallagher, Carpet Ride (Drums and Rhythm)
The initial concepts of Buildings that Breathe took further the recommendations and the legacy of Hip Hop Happening, which
was similarly built around a series of volunteering opportunities and workshops and also had a performance day in a park in
Normanton. This attracted 5,000 visitors throughout the day with an equal split in gender and 75% from diverse backgrounds. One
of the recommendations of the review was a longer programme, at least twelve months in duration, to embed the project in the
community. The Derby Dance Centre had proved before, with its involvement in Concrete Jungle and 3D that it was able to play a
substantial part in the delivery of large scale, multi partner works, but here it was able to set the agenda and take the lead role.

What would make Buildings that Breathe different would be the facility to engage participants and audiences with a range of 'one
off, short or long term contacts' the opportunity to match performers with a transnational peer group, and the potential to draw in a
range of project partners over an extended period of project working. It was also felt that the Derby Dance Centre had acquired a
better understanding of the audit procedures required to report on large scale projects. The project was highly complex, with a
spread of smaller residencies and development sessions complementing the main strand of the programme.

Buildings That Breathe began with Soundwood, which saw the Derby Dance Centre working with OPUS and Q Arts, as well
as other partners, to jointly deliver workshops to families with young children. These costumes were taken in procession through
the Arboretum on its relaunch day in September 2005, when the Dance Centre was present doing preliminary outreach for the
project, under the Urban Myths heading. Fillip van Huffel, from Antwerp-based Retina Dance, began his association with the
project at this time. The Project Team brought all of the "core team" in place early enough to affect the development of the
programme.

Again in September, writer and performer Spice, who was also a member of the transnational residency team where she met with
the Crime Jazz poetry forum, led a regular writers' group at the Open Centre until February 2006. Despite Spice's charismatic
personality and upbeat delivery, attendance was not high enough to warrant developing the work as had been planned, or to
continue with plans to establish an online writers' forum. The Project Team learned that regular sessions building to a definite
outcome, especially under the Buildings that Breathe umbrella, were not sufficiently appealing to the target client group of 14 to
17 years youth.

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The Where You Live community dance workshops were also begun in September and run at various venues in Normanton,
including the Open Centre, Apna Madely and the Mandela Centre. Where You Live included a series of "fusion" workshops with
Surtal Asian Arts which rounded off this strand in May 2006. These were well attended, and the wide spread of sessions allowed
for good quality outreach and development to be undertaken. This strand showed that the aims and the processes laid down in the
project brief could be met.

In October the Project Team began the Retina / Filip van Huffel residencies, with taster sessions during half term. Building
Blocks, the Rotterdam exchange, took place a month later in November 2005. This saw a mixed group of Normanton residents
(including "core group" members Obe Watson and Spice), together with chaperones from the Derby Dance Centre and Project
Team, visiting the Culp Urban Theatre Festival, and making links with the Hip Hop Huis collective. They also engaged in an
photography based cultural heritage activity to link in with the Buildings that Breathe concept.

In February 2006 the Project Team had scheduled auditions for the "Park Less Ordinary" performance in June. The Where You
Live workshop series had been designed to capacity-build participants and promote participation in the run up to the auditions.
However, response to the audition call out wasn't commensurate with the success of the workshops. Feedback seems to suggest
that participants weren't ready to "ramp up" to that level of commitment, and I also feel that the abundance of sub schemes and
programmes under the Buildings That Breathe umbrella made the direction of the project less clear than it might have been.
Once again the Project Manager and the Project Team were able to come up with a practical solution, and the choreographer
began working with smaller, age specific performance groups which he would bring together in the week before the final
performance.

In March 2006 the Project Team returned to the Heritage strand of the project, which had been designed to feed in to the written
and artistic strands of the programme and give Buildings That Breathe a focus. As these strands had been the least successful
so far, the Project Team elected to hire Angela Terris, an artist recommended by Q Arts, to deliver a series of workshops at the St
James and Apna Madely centres, following a photographic activity around Normanton and at the Arboretum that built on the
activity done in Rotterdam by the transnational residency group. These pulled in 40 attendees, whose photomontage work was
distributed in the form of playing cards to the dancers, and became used in the backdrops, costumes and publicity for the day. In
June the cards were put online, replacing the Writers' Forum strand of the project.

Hip Hop Huis made their return visit to Derby in April 2006, concluding the Building Blocks programme with workshops at the
Mandela Centre and at Break Jam. After a series of rehearsals they shared their work with residents at a sold-out community
performance. In May the Project Team decided to institute a series of open sessions in Normanton Senior and Infant Schools to

18
promote the upcoming Arboretum event, as well as drop in workshops at the Heart of the Park space. Filip Van Huffel began to co-
ordinate the final piece with the dancers, and the on the music for the performance began.

Five key music groups had been chosen to create music around the park which would key in with the final performance. These
were led by very committed and versatile local musicians who were part of the "core group" of artists around the Dance Centre.
One of them, Obe Watson, had formed part of the transnational exchange group. They would embellish the beat - the "Pulse" of
the Heart of the Park - that composer Jules Maxwell had been commissioned to write, and process around the park as on the
Arboretum launch. The Project Team decided to focus their work - which included building groups through outreach - through the
month of May. In fact it would have made things much easier if the musicians were given more priority earlier on. Right back in the
initial bid however, music was not emphasised, even though it is obviously more congruent to dance than writing. As it was they
worked very hard in a short period of time, and their performance on the day, which included spontaneous jamming with the
composer on stage, was inspired and inspiring.

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5 - Key Points

 The Project Team and Project Officer worked together


very competently and displayed experience and
ingenuity in solving problems and organising strand
delivery, substituting other activities if necessary.
Sometimes there were difficulties without an Executive
Officer, both because this was a very demanding
programme on staff time and also because some
difficulties had to be solved by negotiation as they
overlapped people's fields of expertise. Any inherent
weaknesses, such as the stress on writing over music,
might also have been remedied at a very early stage.

 At this interim stage the project has developed very


well, delivering worthwhile outreach sessions and
artistic development which together have engendered a
great deal of genuine enthusiasm. The project as a
whole would have benefited from a tighter definition
brief; there is also an abundance of titles associated
with the project - Urban Myths, Buildings that Breathe,
Writing on the Wall, Where you Live, Building Blocks, A
Park Less Ordinary, etc which may not have implied
the looked-for sense of unity and coherence to artists
and the public.

 A great deal has been delivered by the Project Team,


Derby Dance Centre staff and the "Core Group" of
artists that they have built around them. The longer
programme of project work has allowed for increased
local artist training at observer, support and lead level;
the next few months will reveal if this has increased
potential for long term employment opportunities.

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6. Develop links and emerging networks to UK and European urban dance theatre and
young people's forums and organisations which can be nurtured further.
“When we went on the Exchange we saw that everywhere there are people just like us, trying to make a
difference.” Obi Watson
One of the most ambitious elements of the project was the exchange visit to Rotterdam. This gave the signature “transnational”
theme a physical reality and helped in the development of the “core group” of creative individuals on whom the project was relying
for delivery, authenticity and insight. The notion of Transnationalism was initially put forward at the time of the First World War by
the American writer Randolph Bourne, who saw it as a way of refuting the popular belief that armed conflict could be a tool to
spread Democracy and the “American Way” of life. It recently made a conceptual reemergence to achieve relevance in the past
decade as sociologists and social scientists tried to explain the effects of globalisation, and initiate debate over positive ways in
which members of “deculturalised” communities can move forward. Transnationalism deals with the movements of ideas, people,
skills and perspectives between people in diverse countries and geographical areas, bypassing the concepts of nationality and
political borders and instead placing religion, the media, advertising and other global trendmakers as the engines of cultural
transmission.

The philosophies that make up the transnationalist approach are particularly appropriate and empowering when applied to
culturally diverse, multi-ethnic inner city locations, such as those presented in much of the UK. If these are areas where many
people, due to class and peer pressure, look to the media of other countries to inform their dress, speech, music and dance then
so much the better. What Transnationalism can offer in a practical sense, through the creation of a “Multi-local perspective”, is to
enable and encourage people in discrete parts of the world the tools to create a new, positive cultural map, and bypass roadblocks
caused by social stigma, racist or political oppression that may exist in their homeland. The utilisation of this concept is especially
appropriate in Normanton, where a number of different minority cultures and outlooks live together, often sharing, in the case of
youth, the same “Urban” culture revolving around music, fashion, dance, posture and language.

The Derby Dance Centre had adopted the concept of Transnationalism with the Spirit of Normanton application and rightly placed
it at the core of the Buildings That Breathe programme. The visit to Rotterdam for six Normanton residents and a small group of
chaperones was a bold step forward. Their journey took place in November 2005, and helped put into context the subsequent
project timetable. As well as sharing and developing Arts practice they took with them a set of disposable cameras marked up
with questions to encourage ways of seeing and looking at city heritage and the built environment. This provided the opportunity to
compare and contrast the visual landscapes of two urban environments, and feed back to those in Normanton who wouldn’t have
the opportunity. While they were there they had the opportunity to attend the Black Soil Film Festival and the Culp Act Urban
Theatre Festival. The visit complemented the project’s adoption of artists with an international background throughout the

21
programme, and gave a wider horizon to participants and group leaders from the start of the programme.

Antwerp based Retina Dance choreographer Fillip van Huffel began his residency in October 2005 as Artistic Director, building on
regular weekly sessions that had been running since September of that year. He began to develop the work that would later
become the “Park Less Ordinary” Performance. The return visit by Hip Hop Huis the following April carried the transnational theme
into 2006, and provided a series of fourteen workshops and rehearsals to create dance pieces with Normanton community groups.
These were based at the Mandela centre, and the performance that was first created in Rotterdam was developed and shared at a
Community Performance - Two Hard to Break. Free tickets were offered to community groups and leaders, and the performance
was sold out.

Throughout the project repeated avenues of outreach to young people were developed and explored in order to establish new
relationships as well as deepen existing ones. The Writers’ Group ran at the Open Centre from September 2005 to February 2006,
aimed at young people aged 14 to 17, but failed to find a wide enough audience to justify further financial outlay on an online
writers’ forum. A series of Open access drop ins, offers of visual arts and music workshops to regular attenders at the Guru
Ravidassi centre and outreach to feeder senior schools and Early Years groups complemented a proactive programme to engage
with young people across Normanton.

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6 - Key Points

 The transnational exchange was a bold move on the part of


the Derby Dance Centre. The Project Team and staff
members were able to coordinate the exchange of ideas,
plans and people across Europe. The combined influences of
Fillip van Huffel and Hip Hop Huis gave the Buildings that
Breathe programme a unique feel

 The five key music groups developed to support the “Park


Less Ordinary” performance also contained artists whose
backgrounds, like Janelle Xavier, could be considered
transnational. In the future it might be profitable to look at
“transnational” dancers, musicians, etc. who are already here,
and give them their own forum in the project.

 Derby Dance will need to decide who will take responsibility in


the future for nurturing the links and what level of input it
envisages these groups and networks having in the
organisation.

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7. Benefits of partnership working to streamline investments and build creative
infrastructure in which to nurture and develop vibrant young talent within Normanton.
"It's about changing the City Centre" Derby Cityscape representative, on Project Visioning Day, June
2005
The Derby Dance Centre's strong relationship with and informed selection of other key partners for the Buildings That Breathe
programme was a major factor in its successful implementation. With a town centre base and a performing arts bias, the Project
Team would have found it impossible to deliver the programme, even against the background of their excellent outreach work, had
they not shared a skills base with others. Local initiatives and organisations - such as the Arboretum Ranger Team, Q Arts,
Surestart, the Council Arts Team and Derby Local Studies - all contributed to delivering collectively what would have been
impossible individually.

The open and effective process of involving partners, stakeholders and interested professionals in developing and executing the
programme was initiated at the first “Buildings that Breathe” visioning conference in June 2005, before the project commenced,
when over a dozen people from a variety of backgrounds were brought together by the Dance Centre. This required an overnight
stay and involved a round of presentations from representatives of Derby’s cultural life. More impactfully, participants were
required to get themselves around Derby city centre, and develop a knowledge of the layout of Normanton and the Arboretum.
There was a night time “Ghost Tour” of Derby town centre, and attendees were required to research and present to the team their
findings on Normanton life.

Partnership working took two directions within the project. Partnership with the individual artists and musicians who acted as group
leaders meant that they were hired, trusted and supported to deliver tangible strands of the project’s outcomes. Partnership with
facilitating organisations meant that they typically provided the venues where these objectives were met. Local venues such as
Apna Madely, the Open Centre and Mandela Centre were selected by the project team because previous outreach work had
suggested they were found to be safe and appealing to potential participants. The Normanton location of all of these venues
ensured a diverse client group without overt an selection process. One of the stated aims of Buildings that Breathe was to
encourage the long-term take up of the Dance Centre’s regular programme, and ongoing measurement will need to be done to
see whether and to what extent participants engaged through this outreach work will seek to take their involvement further.

One demonstration of the benefits of effective partnership working was provided when the Project Team decided not to go ahead
with the Easter graffiti weekend and the Online Writers’ Forum, in the light of the continued poor turnout at the Writers’ Workshops.
Q Arts were able to suggest a workable activity which would reintroduce the local heritage research done as for the project, and

24
which had been intended for the benefit of the writers drawn from the community. Q Arts were able to locate an artist to come on
board very quickly, whose style of community engagement was congruent with the project, and who was able to work with groups
in a way that would support the aims of the project. The project team was able to utilise the underspend from the workshops which
weren’t delivered and act quickly to monitor the quality of the work. Designs, patterns and images from the group artwork found
their way onto the costumes of the dancers and the dressing of the park performance space on the day, as well as appearing on
promotional print and other material for the final performance on the 4th June.

It remains to be proved how working together over a period of time as short as eighteen months can streamline investments in real
terms, but certainly in the way in which project partners complemented each other in the planning and delivery of this project, the
beginnings of a workable creative infrastructure are evident. Nowhere was this more apparent than in the way in which Corey
Mwamba was able to structure and organise his musicians for the “Park Less Ordinary” performance in a very short time, putting
the beat provided by composer Jules Maxwell on his website and liaising closely with players, technicians and dancers.

What was evident amongst all of these partners, who I met with on many occasions over the duration of the project, was a
positive, "up beat" attitude, even if they had little stake in its success or failure. The Dance Centre had selected partners with
committed keyworkers who had strong links in Normanton but were also interested in developing best practice on a national and
international level.Staff and officer liaison between organisations was positive, problems were shared and solved easily. This
helped to create a "can-do climate", and I was struck by the number of people who wanted to use "Buildings that Breathe" to
promote the outputs of their own work within the Normanton area, for example, highlighting the work down by the “Homezones".
initiative.

I also felt that the success of the "Hip Hop on the Hill" event in 2004, in particular the professionalism with which it was delivered
had acted as a tipping point for other agencies evaluating the Dance Centre as a capable organisation. One example of this would
be the way in which the whole team - including dancers - was welcomed and encouraged by Derby Cityscape into a discussion
about the corporate plans for the future redevelopment of the town centre.

25
7 - Key Points

 The two-day hot-housed consultation that Derby


Dance set up was an excellent way of starting the
project; in line with the best policies of the sector.
It generated a great deal of excitement and
goodwill, and encourage a positive attitude that
enthused partners.

 “Buildings that Breathe” as a project was so


complex that it sometimes felt like it was a series
of partnerships of it’s own invention. Named
schemes and workshops sequences, “Buildings
that Breathe”, “Urban Myths”, “Writing on the
Wall,” “Where You Live” etc. sometimes had the
effect of “gilding the lily.”

 The work of Derby Dance Centre is highly


regarded by agencies and professionals working
in Normanton and concerned with the cultural
development of Derby. The Dance Centre needs
to continue to find and work with those on ground
who have talents yet to be utilised, while looking
to move on its current “core group” into positions
where they can help strengthen the “creative
infrastructure” that this project seeks to develop.

26
8. A focal point to utilise positive promotion and dissemination of good practice on local,
regional and European levels via identified & researched networks and links provided via
support partners and stakeholders
"This whole project is a marketing campaign, the tools and mechanisms are word of mouth. Advocacy
and demonstrable good practice are more effective than a leaflet" Thomas Wildish
Both on paper and in practice Buildings That Breathe endorses the principles of transnational working; it identifies individuals in
a specific locality that will benefit from the an international forum, it creates transnational residencies, it disseminates good practice
into the community through a variety of mediums and methods. As a result of this work, Derby Dance Centre has been able to
take part in the "Promoters Platform" led by the London-based Hub agency Hub, which is taking place at the time of writing.
Buildings that Breathe also provided a framework for engaging with the Regional programme for Black and Asian Theatre
Networks, running over autumn 2005 to spring 2006.

On an organisational level, the programme has shown audiences and potential participants, partners and funders that the Derby
Dance Centre is capable of working at both local and multi-local levels and producing consistent development opportunities for
participants, coupled with effective Arts programming. What the Derby Dance Centre must continue to do is to sustain the dialogue
between those agencies and those individuals that this project has so far championed, and find ways to bring their success to the
attention of those with the resources to develop the project’s agenda in more depth.

This need not mean however that the Dance Centre has to devote staff time in continually promoting and reappraising the
project’s strengths in the light of new funding regimes. Those in the “core group” identified by the project, for example Neema
Gautma, Corey Mwamba, Obe Watson, Spice, Janelle Xavier and many others have benefited or likely will benefit from the high
profile and capacity building opportunities associated with the project, and could act as a vanguard for dissemination if the proper
fora can be identified. This will further increase their own individual opportunities for professional development.

One task which the Derby Dance Centre can undertake is to define what the organisation has now learned which is of value to
other partners, since it is the generation and exchange of concepts which can be directly applied by others, rather than sharing
generalised notions of cultural understanding, which is at the heart of Transnational discourse. What the Transnational approach
requires of the Derby Dance Centre is primarily an effective understanding of the uniqueness of the East Midlands locale, and of
the appropriateness of the Buildings that Breathe programme in dealing with the particular issues affecting Normanton, rather
than speculating on what other partners might find useful at some future date. Representatives of other regions, who, as in the
East Midlands for example, are rebuilding from an industrial base will find the best use and most appropriate application for this

27
material, if the successful impact of the project is made plain, and the research is sufficiently well indexed and promoted.
Effectively quantifying and collating this research will be of value, as will quantifying the “identified research networks and links”
mentioned as one of the project’s objectives.

At a basic level, this interim evaluation, in conjunction with pictorial evidence, the Mediaworks video and audio narrative and
collated audience and participant data must be shared with the Normanton Management group and other stakeholders. The
Project Team need to create as many advocates as possible for Buildings That Breathe in the short term, before the project
concludes. There was a groundswell of positive opinion and goodwill throughout the programme and especially on the event of the
4th June; this was very apparent to me conducting interviews afterwards. .

Continuation of discussions with Retina, and with contacts made over the transnational residency in Rotterdam - as such the Culp
Act Urban Theatre Festival and the Black Soil Urban Theatre Festival, and at the Breakin Convention in London - will benefit
the project. These partners, transnational and national, all have a similar demonstrable track record of successful work with hard
to reach youth, an understanding of and passion for contemporary urban culture and music and a commitment to cultural diversity
in theory and practice. The Derby Dance Centre can demonstrate a willingness to share and explore its findings and to question its
own practice. The Project Team in particular have a very unromantic and practical understanding of the issues related to running
the project from day to day. This realism combined with the optimism of the project advocates would make an attractive
combination.

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8 - Key Points

 The project was an effective advert for itself - it


tried to remove access barriers by locating work at
centres people could get to easily on foot or bus,
and avoid the need for private cars. A family
audience base was envisaged from the start;
people would see people they knew on stage and
want to get involved or spread the word,

 One of the aims as set down in the revised funding


document was to raise community aspirations and
reveal Normanton as a vibrantly creative
community. Those enthused by the project will
make its best advocates.

 It isn’t necessary to have a wide knowledge of


national or international nuances to build worth in a
transnational context; the key factor is to be an
expert on your own local environment and local
people, and to meet their specific needs effectively.
Buildings that Breathe is an exemplary project

Simon Redgrave simon@scholarsandwarriors.org

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