Case Study

STRUT: Music+Fashion+Identity


WOVEN delivered 6 months of engagement activities with 16 groups of children, young people and community groups from across Kirklees.

These workshops provided a safe space for 500 people to engage in creative activity to explore identity and what our clothing and accessories say about us. We wanted to create an opportunity for our communities to showcase their own identity and the idea of a public catwalk was born.

Our team of artists: Kim Searle, Julie Roebuck, Thahmina Begum, Alice Burford, Emma Brackenbury, Karen Stansfield, Jane Howroyd and Jessica Grady.

Schools engagement: Pentland Infant & Nursery, Saville Town Infant and Nursery, Madni Academy and Kirkheaton Primary.

Community & Youth Engagement: Maker World Dewsbury, The Children’s Art School, THE HIVE, Sharing Skills Group, Room 12, Brunswick Youth Group, Switch on HAB DAB, Ukrainian British Friendship Group, Kirklees College – Dewsbury & Huddersfield, and Dewsbury & Huddersfield Women’s group.

This project was supported by Kirklees Council and Taking the Lead, Dewsbury’s Town Investment Plan project funded through the Town Fund and Kirklees Year of Music. 

What happened:
After 6 months of community based workshops the project culminated in an event on 3rd June 2023 in the heart of Dewsbury inviting participants to STRUT their stuff on the catwalk.

WOVEN teamed up with Year of Music to bring a number of bands to the stage including Klonk, High Times and Before Breakfast. The catwalk also played host to a number of performances by We Great Ladies, SONG GEET – Yorkshire’s first South Asian women’s choir, and Hardeep Sahota’s interactive Bhangra performance. 

The day was hosted by Rima Ahmed, BBC Presenter and there were lots of free, drop in activity including: the pop up skate Park by Skate it Yourself; Pop up Photo Studio for Saturday Town Kirklees by Casey Orr – an award winning photographic portrait project exploring identity and self expression through fashion and portraiture; Printing Your Own T-Shirt with West Yorkshire Print Workshop; and  Dewsbury Maker World engaging families in making their own weird and wonderful head-wear.

Overall, 4,500 people engaged with the project and all took something different away from being involved. We’ve received positive feedback from the artist-led workshops with a range of groups and schools engaged which provided a safe space to talk about identity through creativity and artists tailored their activity to each group.

“Thank you for the opportunity Kate….the sessions with Julia were very productive and it was great to have an exciting event to showcase the work too.”

“It was brilliant! Children and parents are very happy and enjoying this festival so much)))))❤️❤️❤️❤️ Thank you very much for your attention to us.”

The nature of the activities enabled participants who didn’t speak the same language to come together to learn skills and had the opportunity for free creative play boosting confidence and general wellbeing.  

At the core of the STRUT event a platform was created to celebrate these participants and their identity and creativity representing different ages and cultural backgrounds.

“It was a wonderful morning. The children really enjoyed themselves and told the class all about it. It was so nice to see the parents so engaged with it as well.” 

“Great catwalk show, my son got up and I loved it. Need more events like this. Very entertaining.”

The high demand for the creative activities at the event demonstrated the need for free open inclusive creative activity. By curating an inclusive diverse offer of performances, workshops which reflected the diversity of Kirklees it really felt like an event that was open to everyone

“We have had loads of fun joining in with activities and making new friends with other kids and staff.”

“Really good turn out. Just what Dewsbury needs.”

The bands and performers incorporated a range of musical styles, the workshops were tailored more towards children and young people including the skatepark and Casey’s pop up studio also attracted teenagers & adults.

It was a family friendly event.

“It was amazing to sing along and have fun with the community. The good part was young children were enjoying it.”

We also strived to make this an accessible event and provided live captioning of the MC.

“A very enjoyable afternoon. Really appreciated the subtitles. Thank you.”

This event also provided an opportunity for an emerging band to participate in a professional production, High times, who are now prepared for future events having got their insurance in place and a deeper understanding of the processes, expectations and organisation. 

There were a number of participants who signed up for the catwalk via the public call out and on the day after taking part in the workshops. One of the participants is about to start her own business and wore some of her unique clothes to showcase her work.

“I felt so amazing, the atmosphere was incredible. It was amazing for myself and I enjoyed everything.”

Celebrating Creativity in Dewsbury

What Happened?
From 15th to 18th February 2024 WOVEN held an exhibition at Dewsbury Town Hall to celebrate the people of Kirklees who showcased their creations at STRUT, in June 2023 with images from SATURDAY TOWN by award-winning photographer Casey Orr. During the exhibition a short film from STRUT was screened and we held a family friendly Community Event and Makers Market alongside creative workshops. Over the 4 days during the February half term, over 400 people attended with the Community Event & Market being particularly successful.
For the Community Event we wanted to try and recreate the spirit of the original catwalk day and we were keen to programme a mix of live music, creative workshops and of course face painting which was a huge hit! The Kirklees Year of Music team programmed ‘busking’ style music throughout the day which created a great atmosphere.
“It’s lovely to see it so busy.”
The event was also supported by activity outside the Town Hall led by Maker World organised by Taking the Lead.
What Was the Impact?
Whilst the exhibition was only a ‘pop up’ it was professionally printed and installed in recognition of the value of the participants’ contributions and experiences. This also highlighted what a powerful impact such an installation can have in transforming the Victoria Hall.  Banners from the exhibition have been gifted to those featured in the images. It was wonderful to see the reactions of participants from STRUT visiting the exhibition to come and see their image printed on a huge scale. 
 “This photo means so much to me as it shows one of my creations and it being chosen to be in an Exhibition has made me feel very proud and confident.” Participant
“This photo has given her a great confidence boost and came at a time when she was really struggling with a few issues, her face when I told her that her photo had been selected was just amazing. The photographer captured her perfectly. It is such an amazing photo. Thank you.” Parent of Participant
A key aim was to use the exhibition as a backdrop to showcase organisations supporting the community of Dewsbury alongside some wonderful makers from across Kirklees. This also enabled us to test out if there would be interest in attending a makers/craft market in Dewsbury. 
“A great opportunity to connect with other creative people in the sector. “
The mix of activities attracted a diverse range of attendees including many families. 
“I loved that there were so many activities for the kids and a bit of shopping for adults.” 
One stall holder commented that the event was
“Bringing together a diverse mix of makers and organisations in successfully celebrating creativity.”
Workshops led by artists Harriet Lawson and Karen Stansfield connected with themes from the WOVEN Growing Colour Together project and engaged across generations. 
Karen said
“The activity provided great conversations regarding growing and nurturing and pledges were made.”
This event demonstrates that there is an appetite for these types of events from the public and also from makers and groups based in Dewsbury and Kirklees. We received many more applications for stalls than we were able to accommodate. 
A follow up survey with stallholders showed 92% would be interested in having a stall again or participating in something similar in the future.
“Thank you for such an inspiring event.”

Share this case study...