We Are Wednesbury
We Are Wednesbury is part of the Wednesbury High Street Heritage Action Zone, a new initiative funded by Sandwell Council and Historic England that will see restorations made to the high street, breathing life into it for future generations. The programme celebrates the town’s community life; it invites its residents to share its histories and stories, and to collectively imagine possibilities for its future. Over the next three years, people are invited to participate in a free programme of creative projects and activities, with performances, community walks and celebrations, street festivals, processions and art workshops taking place in the streets and community spaces of Wednesbury.
Adaya Henry outside Boobielous, Pop Up Poetry, 2022 © Phillip Parnell Photography
Between 2021 and 2022, artist duo Hipkiss & Graney coproduced the art project Market alongside Wednesbury residents. The group created new fabric banners in a series of textile and storytelling workshops, and their work was shared at a community celebration of the refurbished clocktower in March. Alongside this, many other things unfolded throughout the year: local people took part in an open photography competition focussing on Wednesbury’s unique features, poetry performances took place in shops along the high street, a set of short performance films were produced exploring the many dialects and languages of Wednesbury and their relationship to food, and a series of community walks animated the town, featuring newly commissioned poetry that focussed on the social, historic and physical landscapes of the town.
We Are Wednesbury magazine celebrates all things Wednesbury in 3 annual editions. You can already access Issues 1 and 2 in PDF format by clicking the ‘read more’ button below. Alternatively, if you happen to be in Wednesbury, there are free physical copies of Issue 2 out now in various shops and businesses in the High Street.
Issue 3 will be our final magazine! If you are keen to get involved, visit our Opportunities page.Read more
High Street Stories
In 2021, Multistory developed High Street Stories, a digital community engaged arts programme that was developed with, and for, Wednesbury residents working with local artists. The programme explored the past, present and future of the town through a series of free, artist-led digital workshops, and the work created is now presented online via We Are Wednesbury, an interactive community map that outlines hidden histories and stories of the local area. The map was launched as part of an online event that shared artistic research from the project and explored themes of community, collaborative practice and rootedness within place.
Twelve artists (including four from Wednesbury and six from Sandwell) collaborated with local residents in digital workshops to share their stories, memories, hopes and dreams for Wednesbury.
The artists were: Iain Armstrong, Keaton Barton, Maurice Bartosch, Grace Dore, Brendan Hawthorne, Sophie Huckfield, Marta Kochanek, Claire Leggett, Jo Löki, Denise Maxwell, Serena Patel and Emily Warner.Explore the map
Across three days in June, Multistory worked with Black Country Touring to produce an array of fun-filled events.
The festivities began on the 10 June with Market Square in Wednesbury becoming a hub of creativity. Audiences were entertained with a theatre performance by Crow’s Nest Theatre Company; Street Games with Autin Dance Theatre; and face painting with Rainbow Faces.
The programme was then followed by Doomsday: A Wednesbury Reckoning on 16 June. Housed in St Batholowmew’s Church, the evening featured wonderful poetry, song and spoken word. It began with Suzie’s Community Choir, followed by exceptional performances by some local Black Country talents including Brendan Hawthorne, Priyanka Joshi, Alex Vann, Heather Wastie, Steve Pottinger, Billy Spakemon, Emma Purshouse, Trudy King, Suzan Spence, Reaya Seeley and David Calcutt.
The final event was the second and larger Wednesbury Day celebration on 17 June. With activities taking place across Wednesbury, there was a wide choice for audiences to enjoy. In Wednesbury Library there was a community craft exhibition with pracrical demonstrations and a live creation of Rangoli art by Ranbir Kaur. Utilising the fantastic buildings in Wednesbury, Multistory also curated an exhibition at the town’s Museum and Art Gallery. Titled High Street Portraits, the exhibition features the work of photographer, Marta Kochanek, who captured portraits and stories of shops and business owners in Wednesbury. As well as indoor activities, the celebrations encompassed Wednesbury’s Market Square, Union Street, and High Street with street performances, market stalls and a community procession with a giant 13-foot puppet with live music.
You can learn more about the wonderful day here.