In Wigan, Tandem Theatre partnered with Wigan Council Youth Services and their young women’s group. It is the second time Tandem Theatre have partnered with Wigan youth services after having delivered the Zhoosh music and arts programme for the Wigan BYOU group for young people who identify as LGBT+.
The project fitted perfectly with the provision for the young women’s group and the Wigan Council lead youth worker had high praise for how the Game Changer project activities engaged the young women, built trust between participants, raised aspirations and improved confidence. The group then took the skills they had learnt and developed their own campaign about period poverty and engage in a CAMHS consultation to improve services. They really took ownership of the project and even rebranded themselves as, ‘Wigan Herstory’.
“The International Women’s Exhibition visitors were amazed with the amount of work and effort the girls put in to this project and loved how enthusiastic and proud they were to exhibit their work.” Georgina Hall, Wigan Council Youth Worker.
LEARNING FROM THE PAST
The group received guided tours of Archives + at Manchester Central Library where they handled the women’s suffrage collection and The People’s History Museum to see the wider context of women’s suffrage. The group also received a guided tour of the Museum of Wigan Life to learn about the local historical context of their borough. The group also managed to revisit central Manchester to see the Pankhurst House.
RECREATING THE PAST
In the arts and crafts workshops the group recreated suffragist materials such as a protest banner, rosettes, sashes, leaflets, booklets and badges. For more information on how suffragists used these materials click here.
The group researched Martha Hogg and how she used her power of being the change and becoming the first female councillor in Wigan. The Game Changer group then decorated a giant jigsaw piece in the shape of the Wigan borough with handprints featuring facts about Hogg’s life.
For more information about Martha Hogg click here.
The group recreated the 1908 Manchester Women’s Suffrage Demonstration 1908 by marching down Lark Hill Place (a replica Victorian street at Salford Museum and Art Gallery) in costume wearing their sashes and displaying their banner.
For International Women’s Day the group displayed all their fantastic work at The Museum of Wigan Life and their lead artist ran suffragist themed making activities throughout the day. Their exhibition had over 100 attendees including parents, carers, members of the the public and local dignitaries including the Mayor.
APPLYING THE PAST TO TODAY
The group then applied what they had learnt about the suffragist campaign methods and applied it to today. Focusing on current issues the group felt most impacted them; they developed their own campaign through taking part in a series of workshops such as debating, marketing, music, spoken word, corporate sponsorship and T-shirt printing.
For more information about these methods of campaigning click here.
These set of sessions also provided content for the groups to share at the recreation of the 1912 Women’s Suffrage Bazaar. The group all wore their Wigan Herstory hoodies and gave a live poetry performance for the audience.
ASSOCIATE LEAD ARTIST - Cara Looij
Cara Looij is a Manchester based participatory arts practitioner specialising in Visual Art, Drama, Puppetry and Creativity for Wellbeing. She works predominantly with communities who are considered to be hard to reach and is committed to ensuring that everyone has access to creativity. In 2019 she was awarded Young Creative of the Year at the Manchester Cultural Awards for her involvement with (In)sane MCR (a mental health focused creative platform), and her Tedx Talk which can be viewed here.