30 June 2016

Our thoughts on Brexit

We’re stronger working together

As an outdoor arts organisation that has always had a wanderlust for working in different countries and collaborating with artists from a broad spectrum of different cultures, our natural instinct towards the Referendum was that we should remain in the European Union.

Our portfolio of work would not be as rich and varied as it is without the opportunity for working both with our European Union neighbours and with other countries on projects of every shape, size and ambition.

In just the past few weeks we have returned from helping our friends at V18, Malta produce their Pageant of the Seas in Valletta as a taster to their more ambitious European Capital of Culture celebrations in 2018. Back in 2011 we helped Turku in Finland celebrate its European Capital of Culture with their opening ceremony, and right now we are working with Limerick, one of the candidate cities for the 2020 European City of Culture.

So, despite the tumultuous events of the past few days we remain as European-minded and outward looking as ever, and committed to the belief that artistic self-expression is even more powerful when part of wider collaborations with diverse artists and communities from different cultures. As we have seen all too realistically, politics can be a deeply divisive force that brings powerful feelings to the fore with sometimes disastrous and harmful consequences.

As one of the UK arts organisations in the UK to secure investment from Creative Europe we’re delighted that our compass will be set towards a number of European cities in the next few years. Our belief that art should not be restricted by political or geographical parameters is evident in Walk the Plank’s School of Spectacle project that aims to stimulate transnational working by artists in Cyprus, Bulgaria, Malta, Ireland, UK and Lithuania.

Back at home, a week before the Referendum we staged the seventh Manchester Day parade and citywide celebrations commissioned by Manchester City Council. If ever there was an example of how art and culture brings people and communities together then this has to be an audacious and moving testament to exactly that. Nearly 2,000 participants from over 70 groups representing the broadest spectrum of international cultures living in the city showed, through Manchester Day, how art can bring people together.

Collaboration is at the heart of everything we do. Our work is designed to give people a sense of place, a sense of identity and a sense of pride. Right now, what we do seems to be more relevant than ever.

30 June 2016.

Photo: Chris Payne. Manchester Day visitors dance with Science Ceilidh Band, 19th June 2016