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New Cultural Community College Opens This September
Richard Trinder, Editor
Making an Ottoman in the Skills With Drills course
Being a fundamentalist member of the "why can't we just get along" political party, it does me some good to find groups of people who do things simply because they are the 'right thing to do'. Not for crass commercial gain, but because of their intrinsic 'rightness'. Of course, pedants will argue about who decides what's right - but let's not spoil a beautiful moment shall we?

One entity doing 'what's right' is the Slung Low theatre company.

This September they will unveil a new Cultural Community College (I'll explain later) in the city of Leeds offering a wide programme of Pay What You Decide cultural classes to participants from the city and further afield.

Pay What You Decide is a social, political and potentially anti-capitalist experiment that has been tested in restaurants, cafés and theatres around the country, will some considerable success. Stockton’s ARC theatre has tried it - and it works - with some effort required to get tickets to new communities and avoid giving free tickets to those who would be happy to pay anyway.
But, just in case we are being swept away on a wave of woolly-minded altruism, what really drives this project forward is cold hard cash - the Arts Council England, Leeds City Council and, more recently, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation have provided grants to ensure that a strong core of professionals is in place and 'stuff actually happens'.

The Cultural Community College is a major part of Slung Low’s long- term ambition to "create Leeds People’s Theatre: a major new citizen theatre producer of epic, outdoor political theatre for the city combining the company’s trademark staging style with a permanent programme of participation and citizen training".

Why this appeals to me in particular is that, but for a few theatre-specific words here and there, this is a statement of the aims of The Yorkshire Times. In our case Citizen Journalism replaces Citizen Training.

The Blacksmithing course
The college, which will start its first term on Wednesday 12 September and is located at The Holbeck Underground Ballroom (The HUB) in South Leeds, the Cultural Community College will offer an array of cultural activities from stargazing to South Indian cooking, from short film making to carpentry and more.

The courses will be led by artists from the region who will share their skills, experience and passions with the students. Free at the point of use, all the courses, sessions and classes will be Pay What You Decide.

Slung Low’s Artistic Director Alan Lane said:

“There have been various calls from the theatre scene for arts education to be better respected by the government and they are all absolutely correct.

"We do need an education system fit for the 21st century that champions the country’s creativity as a foundation of its collective mental health, as a foundation of its collective sense of worth, as a foundation of its ability to take a moral leadership role in the world, to imagine better futures for our children, for other people’s children, and for ourselves.

"You are what you do. And so, in our little part of the world in Holbeck, we are going to make a varied, high quality creative education available to everyone who wants it regardless of financial status. Because that’s what we want to be- people who think that is important- so that’s what we’ll do. Hold the space to create the opportunity of a cultural education beyond the market place.

"Exploring education for enjoyment’s sake, distinct from the demands of employment and operating beyond the access restrictions of the market the Cultural Community College is the creation of a place designed to disturb the barriers to engagement in both adult education and culture.

"Finally, with the introduction of the Cultural Community College we feel it is our continued core mission to attempt to be as useful as possible with public money in as many imaginative ways as we can."

Slung Low's HUB (The Holbeck Underground Ballroom)


To celebrate the launch of the new Cultural Community College, Slung Low will be hosting a Ceilidh Dance on Saturday 8 September.

For further information on the Cultural Community College and the launch event please visit www.slunglow.org/cultural-community-college/. Take a look, there's a lot happening.

Also by Richard Trinder...
They Don't Pay. We Won't Pay
Carbon Monoxide Is Deadly - Be Warned
The Private Lives Of Harrogate Rep
Tosca In Leeds
Northern Ballet. Movement Without Narrative


New Cultural Community College Opens This September, 31st July 2018, 14:02 PM