Live @ the Lightbox. Photo Credit - James Mulkeen

Hearts for the Arts 2022 Shortlist – Live @ the Lightbox

Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council's Live @ the Lightbox has been shortlisted for Best Arts Project in the 2022 Hearts for the Arts Awards

Live @ the Lightbox was a programme of music-making opportunities for disadvantaged and disengaged young people in Barnsley, with the aim of raising aspirations and providing an opportunity for music-making in a safe accessible space. The programme was developed by Barnsley Libraries (Library @ the Lightbox) and delivered with various partners such as Feels Like Home, WE Great Ladies, and Barnsley College, with funding from Youth Music.

In the 15th most deprived area of the UK, where around 25% of children live in poverty, Live @ the Lightbox was a project that provided extra-curricular music activities to support young people from various backgrounds to express themselves, foster a sense of pride, and support them to face some of their challenging circumstances.

The partnership with Feels Like Home, a group for refugee and asylum seeker families who are new to Barnsley, saw the creation of  a group anthem for Feels Like Home, working with the Library service and musician Nick Lewis to write lyrics, record and film the song. The group now feel confident using the library and the Council are now working together on another creative arts project for under 5’s and their families for 2022.

Another Live @ the Lightbox group was formed by SEN students. Over the course of 3 weeks artist, Matt, joined the groups online to record a mixture of vocal sound effects, instruments and electronic music-making technology to create a story video together. The story explores isolation and community, loneliness and support – all themes that the students have experienced first-hand during the COVID-19 pandemic. All students had an opportunity to express themselves creatively, regardless of background and physical ability.

Overall, 126 people were involved as participants, 4 music videos were produced, 13 artists and musicians were involved, 190 1-1 sessions were held alongside 36 group sessions and 3 workforce development sessions, and 20 young people progressed to other music making opportunities.

Music has the ability to engage all people on different levels and Live @ the Lightbox was particularly impactful for those learners who struggle in a classroom environment and wouldn’t otherwise interact with the library. Young people and organisations are now linked in with their local libraries and have access to support and learning opportunities, they have developed skills and confidence to take part in more arts activities, and have developed networks and friendships to support a post-pandemic recovery.

What the judges said:

“It’s really heartwarming to hear how music and creativity has been made available to those who might not otherwise ever interact with it in this way, as well as opening the door for them to engage with the community facilities such as the library. Well done!”

“A really positive project raising attainment and reengaging young people made especially vulnerable by the pandemic. The range of partnerships formed and the way in which the project adapted to changing circumstances under lockdown is particularly impressive.”