Holbeck theatre company Slung Low are giving people the chance to expand their horizons by taking part in their brilliant new cultural education programme.
When’s the last time you learned something new? It doesn’t happen as often as it should, which is why Slung Low is launching a new Cultural Community College this September. It’s a programme of diverse pay-what-you-feel classes that will take place at The HUB. The idea is that you can try something new, meet new people and develop your skills in a warm, welcoming environment.
The arrival of the Cultural Community College comes as the wider arts world struggles against funding cuts. To counterbalance this, Slung Low wanted to create a new outlet where local experts can share their skills with people who want to try new things. To make it happen, they’ve secured funding from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, as well as continued support from Leeds City Council and Arts Council England.
Alan Lane, Artistic Director of Slung Low, told us how the Cultural Community College came about, “We’ve always believed at Slung Low that access to the best culture possible is an important part of a happy life. We started to realise the opportunities to learn new and different things as an adult were really limited. The places people used to go to learn things that weren’t part of their job were no longer doing that; classes at working men’s clubs and churches are less regular than they used to be, adult private education classes have become really expensive. One of the things participating in culture can do is make people more confident, less scared.”
The Cultural Community College will launch its first term on Wednesday 12th September 2018 and all the classes will take place at The HUB. There’s a mix of classes and times, so everyone can have a go, no matter what your schedule. Some classes will take place once on a Saturday morning, others will be every Tuesday night over the course of 8 weeks. And classes will range from a handful to 30 people, depending on the class.
So, what can you learn? Well, pretty much anything – it’s a wonderfully diverse programme. Love Indian cuisine? You can learn how to cook Indian street food from the woman behind Manjit’s Kitchen. If you fancy something more practical, South Yorkshire fireman Gary McCurdy will teach CPR classes – or you can even learn blacksmithery! They’ll have classes on documentary making with filmmaker Brett Chapman or you can learn how to be an artistic political activist with writer and musician Boff Whalley – the possibilities are endless with the Cultural Community College.
The curriculum has been put together by Slung Low, in consultation with their Community Advisory Board and local stakeholders. Once the first year has been completed, the curriculum will be decided on by the people who use the courses, sessions and classes. The participants will become members, and an advisory board will continue to be in place, so educators from universities, theatre education departments and the private sector can support the college’s programmes.
It’s not just the diversity of their programme that makes the Cultural Community College accessible – just like Slung Low’s performances, they’re running it on a pay-as-you-feel basis. You won’t pay for your class until you’ve done it, and they operate an honour system, so there’s no judgement if you can’t afford to contribute much. You can leave cash in their donation jar or send money digitally via PayPal. It’s one of the things that makes the Cultural Community College so exciting. “We do this so people can come regardless of their financial situation, but also so people spend time thinking about value and worth and how much they want to pay for their experience,” Alan explained.
The Community College stays true to the ethos of Slung Low, which is to make arts education open and available to everyone who wants it, and we can’t wait to try it out. You should too. After all, when’s the last time you learned something new?
The Cultural Community College will open on Wednesday 12th September 2018 at The HUB, 67-71 Bath Road, Holbeck, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS11 9UA.