Announcing a new partnership with East Street Arts

The Brick Box and Leeds-based arts charity East Street Arts have forged an exciting new partnership to find high quality creative uses for empty spaces in Bradford city centre.

The collaboration will see The Brick Box coordinate the use of empty city centre space for creative charitable use. This could include things like exhibitions, theatre rehearsals and performance events, all of which have been successful in Bradford’s empty spaces since the arts charity first came to the city in 2016.

Previous examples in Bradford include The Wild Woods in the former department store on Darley Street, which attracted more than 5,000 people across eight events and brought thousands of pounds of extra spend into the city centre.

Immersive theatre show This Space is Occupied rehearsed in an empty space on Ivegate to get ready for the performance in a separate empty building on the same street. Likewise, young female-led organisation Speakers Corner has taken over a space at the bottom of Ivegate for meetings and social events.

The Brick Box will match up creative practitioners with available spaces, finding the right home for each project and giving them an introduction to the city and local arts scene. The result will be a more visible and collaborative network of artists and creative professionals sharing ideas and resources, all of which will help the city centre to develop and market itself as a hub for new and innovative work.

Rosie Freeman from The Brick Box, said: “As retail becomes more concentrated in specific areas of the city centre, there is a need to reconsider how we use empty space in the city in a way which both attracts new visitors and helps the city to develop its own strengths.

“By giving some of Bradford’s empty spaces to creative practitioners, Bradford is able to build on its Producer City status by offering artistic talent in the area some of the resources it needs to grow and develop.”

Ella Cronk, temporary spaces coordinator at East Street Arts, said: “We’re really excited to have formed this new partnership to help us coordinate activity in our spaces across Bradford. We are passionate about making space for artists to explore and enhance their practice and, having worked with The Brick Box previously, feel confident that they are dedicated to the same cause and well equipped to bring some brilliant things to the spaces. We’re really looking forward to this collaboration.”

Anyone wanting to find out more about getting a space can come to a public meeting at the Brick Box bar at 21 Ivegate on 26th June from 6pm-8pm. Any creative use will be considered, as long as it’s not for profit, and The Brick Box encourage people to form collectives to take on larger spaces together – all of which can be facilitated at the forthcoming meetings.

Posted on 30 May 2018, under Blog.

Evaluating Eurovision

Whether Eurovision is art or not is something we could debate all day long, but that didn’t stop us taking a proper look at it in situ for the first time ever. And it turns out that visiting Eurovision is actually surprisingly apt research for The Brick Box – honestly!

This year the competition was hosted in Lisbon, Portugal, somewhere we’re already familiar with. So we went along to see what it’s really like when this massive event hits town. We got chance to explore the city, as well as spending an evening inside the official arena to see some of the acts perform.


Denmark’s vikings in the arena


As a live event, the main thing we noticed is that Eurovision is an incredibly impressive team effort. There are live rehearsals with a full audience for each of the semi-finals and the final, with every camera switch, dance move and set changeover done to precision timing just as it would be when it goes out live.

We were lucky enough to get tickets to one of the semi-final rehearsal shows, and we found the events team and the technical set-up of the arena even more fascinating than the performances themselves.

For the first time in a long time, LED backdrops weren’t being used by any of the acts, so the staging had to be a little bit more imaginative than previous years. With no screens to rely on, we saw acts using lights, props, projections and augmented reality to enhance their performances.

Among our favourite effects were Estonia’s huge dress with projection mapped video all over it, Moldova’s fun use of boxes and doors, Sweden’s colourful tubular lighting rig, and Denmark’s dramatic ocean-inspired lighting and wind effects with a fake blizzard. With every country wanting to stand out visually, it was a real showcase of what can be done with both very simple and very complex staging.

Outside the arena, in the centre of town, there was a huge public square that had been entirely turned over to screening Eurovision and had been rebranded as Eurovision Village. It looked exactly like a music festival, and did have live performances and DJs between screened events, but the stage’s main use was as a screen so that audiences outdoors in the centre of Lisbon could watch the action as it was broadcast live from the arena.


Denmark’s vikings as seen at Eurovision Village (yes we like Denmark’s vikings)

Despite a lot of queuing to get into Eurovision Village, and then for the bar, and also for the toilets (only the men’s, the women’s had no queue at all), people were generally in very good spirits. There was a real sense of fun rather than competitiveness, most of the people we met weren’t rooting for their own country but for the song or performance they liked the most.

It’s a shame the UK didn’t win, simply because we’d love to have been involved with any element of the competition being hosted in this country, but there’s plenty of time yet!


Posted on 17 May 2018, under Blog.