Literature project takes it to the streets

10th November 2020

What better way to learn about Quarry Hill’s rich history than by discovering short stories hidden across the city with secrets of its past, present and future?

Storytelling experts, Found Fiction, were chosen to receive £3k in funding for its ‘Street Stories’ project as part of the Leeds City College Arts Fund.

Funded by Luminate Education Group, the grant provides support to creative talent across the district who work in any of the disciplines covered by Creative Arts at Quarry Hill Campus, such as art, musical theatre and film.

Barriers to funding

The Arts Fund was brought to life due to a lack of funding from national bodies for creative projects in the region.

Steve Clarkson, founder of Found Fiction, faced difficulties when accessing funding.

“Funding is always a challenge to access as an artist, but if you have an original idea, credible aims and a collaborative approach, you stand as good a chance as any.

“In 2020 a lot of funding opportunities dried up due to the vast majority of events being cancelled because of COVID-19. The Arts Fund is one of the few sources of project funding we’ve been aware of since March 2020. Without it, it would have been very difficult to stage a project of this scale.”

Arts Fund inspiration

Quarry Hill and its surrounding areas is at the heart of the unique grant, with all projects being inspired by its fascinating history. As Found Fiction leads the way in bringing everyday places to life, the Arts Fund was a perfect fit.

“Found Fiction’s mission is to empower people with a creative vision that helps them find stories and inspiration wherever they are. We stage street literature projects and creative installations to make everyday places extraordinary, bringing art and literature to public spaces.

“The Arts Fund specifically asked artists to think of ways to unleash inspiration in Quarry Hill, and animate the streets in a creative and immersive way – so it seemed like a natural fit for us.”

Important story to tell

Street Stories celebrated Quarry Hill voices past, present and future. Being one of the oldest communities in Leeds, it has seen significant transformation over the years.

“Quarry Hill is packed with hidden stories to engage anyone with a creative mind. Historical events such as the demolition of Quarry Hill flats came up in some of our stories, but we made sure we also looked to the future too by focusing on the ambitions and aspirations of the area. 

“We worked with Leeds-based writers who had a personal connection with the area, to write short stories in public spaces, abandoned areas and prominent venues. The stories were published in guerrilla fashion, taking the form of large vinyl stickers, wraparound banners and prints in envelopes marked READ ME.”

Helping hand

As part of the project, college students contributed their own ideas and reflections of Quarry Hill.

“During the content creation stage, our writers researched the history and characters of Quarry Hill to find inspiration for their stories. Leeds City College students fed into this process, providing their own thoughts and experiences of the area for us to use as a starting point for the stories we created.

A success story

Street Stories was live from August to September, receiving impressive engagement and driving footfall around Quarry Hill, as the public went on a search to find the creative displays.

“Although the project is now complete, it’s fantastic to see some venues choosing to keep their displays up so Street Stories will live on as long as these installations are live.

The Arts Fund supported all aspects of Street Stories, including funding the writers to create the stories, the printed visual displays, and marketing the project. It also gave us room to create a robust approach to project management to make sure everything ran to time and budget.

Read more about how Street Stories brought Quarry Hill to life here

Leeds City College