Brand new 10-week creative challenge for young people in Manchester

Take the 10-week challenge, get creative, and celebrate the spirit of Manchester libraries at home

Next week sees the launch of a brand new creative project devised by Manchester Libraries for young people to get involved in from their own homes.

Whilst their doors might be temporarily closed, the creativity and community spirit of libraries across the city is still going strong.  As part of this they've recruited local artists and young creatives to put together a series of weekly creative challenges for young people to have a go at.

Designed for young people to take part in from home, 'Express Yourself' will launch next Monday 4 May with a 10-week on-line programme of arts challenges - including activities such as sketching, writing, beat-making, and dance. 

Each week presents the opportunity to try something new and celebrates the spirit of our libraries through different weekly themes. 

All the challenges have been devised by local artists and young creatives from the Creative Spaces community who were invited to design arts challenges in response to different themes, and to record videos for young people explaining their challenge.  

Councillor Luthfur Rahman, Executive Member for Culture, Leisure, and Skills, Manchester City Council, said:  "When libraries are open we love welcoming young people inside to get creative through our Creative Spaces programme.  As we can't do that just now we decided to reach out to them instead with a series of creative challenges to try at home.

"The challenges celebrate the unique spirit of libraries as community places in the city where everyone is welcome.  With weekly themes designed to inspire and spark self-expression and creativity, as well as developing skills, we hope to bring a bit of hope and positivity into the lives of all our young people - who we know must be finding it hard being at home all this time and not out with their friends."

Challenges relate to themes including strength, community, self and empathy. They are also bite-size and don’t take long to do, so can easily fit into the day.

Emerging artist and facilitator Jamie Lynch has created the challenge for ‘Strength’, which shows participants how to create a rhyme and rap along to a beat.  

Writer and performer Hafsah Aneela Bashir created a challenge for the theme ‘Unlimited’. In her activity, participants are challenged to tune into their senses and write a short story in five minutes, responding to one of her prompts.

Young creative Yelena explores the theme of ‘Energy’ through movement in her challenge, inviting the audience to learn a short piece of choreography.   

Project Producer, Beth Powell, from Creative City England CIC, said: “Express Yourself is a platform for self-expression and creativity. It’s a weird time currently so it’s important to stay connected to what you are feeling, and remember that your thoughts and feelings matter to your wider community too. Express Yourself is a great way to have fun, stay expressive, connect to others, have some mindful moments and learn some new creative skills. Give it a go and join the conversation online using the hashtag #CreativeSpacesMcr Can’t wait to see what you create!” 

Young Creative Yelena Lashimba said: “I’m really happy to have been part of the Express Yourself creative team, it was fun putting my challenge together. The support I got was useful to develop my presentation style and the experience of teaching online will be a positive step in my career. I’m glad there’s been this paid opportunity for us artists during a challenging time. The other tasks and artists are all amazing so I hope loads of people take part and enjoy the project!”   

Express Yourself: the 10-week challenge starts on Monday 4 May at creativespacesmcr.com 

Challenges will go live on-line each Monday until 6 July and can also be explored on social media using the hashtag #CreativeSpacesMcr

Printed booklets with the challenges in have also been distributed to community members via community partners, to try to reach people who might find it harder to get on-line.  

Express Yourself has been produced by Creative City England CIC on behalf of Longsight, North City, and Wythenshawe Forum Libraries as part of Manchester Libraries’ Creative Spaces programme.  It is supported by Arts Council England, Manchester City Council, Skills for Life, and Manchester Central Library Development Trust.  

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