Best Arts Project WINNER – N17

N17 is a radio programme created in partnership by students of Harris Academy Tottenham, Kick it Out, Threads Radio, Haringey Council, RoughHouse Theatre and playwright, Dougie Blaxland. With the support of the Windrush Day Grant – the partners worked collaboratively to produce and broadcast a radio programme – N17 – to coincide with Black History Month. N17 celebrates the extraordinary contribution made to British Society by descendants of the Windrush generation who settled and brought up their families in Tottenham.

N17 has been selected as one of three winners of Best Arts Project in the 2021 Hearts for the Arts Awards. In the words of our judges, here’s why:

A great idea to engage young people and teach them overlooked truths about the immigrant generations of the 50s and 60s. Adrian Lester: actor and director

I love the wide-ranging aspect to this project, from educating people about vital parts of little-known history, to improving mental health during lockdown, to creating a compelling and informative radio programme, to engaging with different parts of the community. It’s great how schools were involved and could access the project across the country. A brilliant example of how creativity can bring people together in tough times, and can play a vital part in increasing wellbeing. Francesca Martinez: comedian, writer, actress

This is a fantastic project, allowing younger people to develop and share a deep knowledge of their local community and history, all in the context of current societal issues. It’s also a very positive example of time during lockdown being used for constructive projects which benefit both the makers and their audience. The audience figures are very impressive. Congratulations to everyone involved! Helen Czerski: physicist, oceanographer, television presenter

As we continue to navigate Britain’s multi-cultural identity, projects like these grow in their importance and necessity. History can’t be rewritten but it can be corrected with additional information that makes it more complete. Being of West African descent means I have an affinity with this project and its objective and it’s ability to pivot and meet the moment by presenting the material in radio format and sharing it outside the confines of N17 – to Bristol, West Midlands, other parts of Londons as well as schools. Le Gateau Chocolat: drag artiste and cabaret performer

An ambitious project that showed adaptability and the ability to entertain and educate. Mariella Frostrup: journalist and broadcaster

This sort of project is needed now more than ever, and the fact that it has been spearheaded by young people makes it doubly worthwhile. Young people taking the responsibility to take charge and do things their own way is such an important step in a person’s development. I think the fact that it switched from a live event to a radio broadcast because of COVID not only shows determination to get the project completed but has actually meant its reach was far wider. Paul Hartnoll: musician, composer, founder member of Orbital

Threads Radio and Haringey Council have clearly given British young people a voice, who were born in this country and have not always been fully heard. Those young people have used the arts and the radio as a medium to share their experiences and to educate others about Black history and the Windrush Generation in the UK. A genuine project for young people, by young people – and impressive audience numbers. Petra Roberts: Cultural Development Manager, Hackney Council (2020 Hearts for the Arts Winners for the Windrush Generations Festival)

Given the shameful treatment of the Windrush generation and the disproportionate effect of COVID in areas with high Black population, this programme was obviously needed. The quick-thinking of the project organisers here has turned what might be a hindrance into a help. Radio has proved its worth in the pandemic as an affordable and effective way of “big room” discussion when we can’t meet in person. Here an important subject – perhaps the important subject of 2020 – was discussed in ways which made all involved feel proud, loud and heard. It obviously works; I can only hope that Haringey and Harris Academy continue their collaboration and Threads Radio gets to broadcast more of the results. Samuel West: actor, director, Chair of the National Campaign for the Arts

Read more about N17’s nomination here

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