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On 2 September 2021, Catherine Clarke from our Towns and the Cultural Economies of Recovery team, together with Michelle Rumney, one of our commissioned artists, led a day of workshops for children in Boscombe, one of our case-study towns. The workshop was funded by a Public Engagement with Research grant from the School of Advanced Study, University of London.

The workshop was hosted by Creative Kids, an arts-based charity for children and young people in Boscombe, as part of their summer holiday club. Creative Kids aims to address economic disparities between class groups accessing the arts. The idea is to use the arts as a driver for social change and close the attainment gap for children in Boscombe. Many holiday club places are free or subsidised for families in need.

In the morning, we set off for a ‘Boscombe Expedition’ discovering the town around us and seeing it with fresh eyes. We took part in a range of mini activities, including collecting street names for a ‘found poem’, sketching and photographing architectural details, writing our own ‘seeing flatly’ Boscombe poems (after Georges Perec), and making live maps, by moving a pencil on paper as we walked.

In the afternoon, drawing on what we’d found and learned through our trip out, artist Michelle Rumney led a workshop to create a giant, collaborative #FutureMap of Boscombe, as the children hoped it might be in 2050. The enormous map came to life with collage, drawing and colouring. Strikingly, it featured plenty of green space and room for nature, as well as school and library on the beach, cycle paths, and public transport. The children located amenities such as a hospital in the heart of the community. And a new housing estate was situated around a lake.

Having discovered in the morning that many Boscombe streets are named for nineteenth-century politicians, Boscombe 2050 featured streets named after pop stars and footballers, including Marcus Rashford and Dua Lipa.

It was fantastic to see so much creativity, imagination and vision from the young people: an unlimited sense of what might be possible for their town, as well as a definite feeling of pride and wonder in the details they spotted and captured on the day. The workshops engaged children in conversations around the Towns Fund, local development and the future of their place, and demonstrated the rich possibilities of creative approaches for opening up fresh conversations and insights into place.

Many thanks to Creative Kids for facilitating the workshop, to Michelle for leading the creative map-making, and to all the Creative Kids children who participated and shared their ideas.

What do we want our towns, cities and villages to be in the future?

What will your place be like in 2050?

All photos shared with permission. 

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