Having first encountered Cultural Bridge as an artist working with Creative Black Country in 2021-2022 for ENTER, Kom Achall has since moved on to become their Cultural Bridge Project Facilitator during the second year of funded partnership development with Kulturville Nellie. We caught up with Kom to find out more and the role, what the organisations have been up to and the ongoing impact of the partnership.

Can you tell us about your role within the ENTER tier 2 partnership and your involvement in the pilot year?

‘ENTER’ Tier 2 has been very different from ENTER’ Tier 1 where I went as a visual artist and street photographer. Tier 1 photography project between Kulturvilla Nellie (based in Lörrach, Baden-Württemberg in Germany) and Creative Black Country looked at the themes of Identity, Belonging and Place.

My role within ENTER Tier 2 partnership was as a Project Facilitator and this involved recruiting young people who were at the beginning of their creative career journey. The theme was climate change and the cultural bridge creative’s were brought together to make work around this subject with the view that their projects would continue beyond the lifespan of the cultural bridge partnership.

I arranged a range of activities in Birmingham and across the Black Country to inspire the young artists to make work from their own experiences and perspectives. Part of the activities involved enabling the group to come together, form artistic relationships with one another and to build a cultural bridge link between the creative’s in Lorrach Germany. Furthermore, for them to access and experience different cultural perspectives on the environment/climate change.  I am pleased to say this has happened; strong connections have started to be formed between the creative’s and organisations. Additionally my role involved mentoring creative’s, providing direction and introducing new ideas and new ways of thinking and visualising creativity. To plan and guide the group’s progress and organize ways that the group could work together to perform tasks, make decisions, solve problems, as well as monitoring the project throughout each phase. This time I was able to give direction and mentor the young people with knowledge and experience gained from last year.

What have you been learning and exchanging through the partnership?

As a Project Facilitator I have further developed my project managing and organisational skills, such as exploring themes ideas through co – design sessions with German partners and artists from the UK, arranging numerous talks, activities and expanded my own learning by listening to different viewpoints and exchanging ideas with people in Germany and the UK. I have forged good communication networks for the future as part of my learning and personal growth.  

The planning of activities and mentoring, arranging travel were all part of my own development on this cultural bridge project. Working with artists and organisations in partnerships in both countries, I found the opportunity rewarding and a positive experience.

Supporting people from across their communities to develop their creativity and discover their individual voices?

The very nature of this project has been to identify, offer opportunity and nurture fresh artistic people who are at the beginning of their creative careers. This has involved linking in with local artists and communities and to be able to identify potential candidates to take part in the project.

CBC and I worked with young people who were at the beginning of their career and empowered them to develop their own practice, at their own pace. To develop confidence in themselves as well as within group settings and with people who were of different ages. This was done through art related activities combined with a variety of social settings. This is evidenced through the young creative’s now offering ideas around how they want to continue their projects. They have also been asked by other organisations to take part in their events around climate change. For example CBC creative’s from the cultural bridge program are taking part in the Wolverhampton Literature Festival 2024 at the Arena Theatre on Saturday 3rd Feb. There will be spoken word performances, artist talk, a conversation and film titled ‘ENTER’ this short film is collaboration between the creative’s from Creative Black Country and Kuturvilla Nellie, Germany. https://wolvesliteraturefestival.co.uk/events/enter.html

Empowering their communities to work together to shape local place, shared identity, and collective agency

The local communities have become more empowered through having additional young creative’s who they can invite to their activities and events. These emerging artists have collectively worked together with the goal to make local communities more conscious of the small changes they can make around climate change.

The communities and local art organizations have become more aware that these young people are a resource in Wolverhampton and further afield.

Exploring new ways of connecting arts and society, particularly through fostering co-creation between communities, artists, and other partners?

Co-creation with the artists from UK and the artists in Germany has created new partnerships and links, this opportunity would not have taken place had it not been for the Cultural bridge project, new connections have developed between both organizations. These have the potential for further collaborative working on projects in the future, for the benefit of both organisations.  

The process has created a portfolio of people and organisations that I/we can tap into toward community involvement in future projects and project planning. 

What new perspectives have you gained through the partnership so far and how will this impact on your future work?

The new perspectives I have gained are around the importance of having young people involved around the climate change discussion/debate. Young creative’s are likely to bring fresh ideas and perspectives that we need to encourage so that their voices are heard.

I think that seasoned workers can assist the young people to springboard them and their careers so that they make a much more effective argument/discussion through their creativity. Providing opportunity, guidance and mentoring are golden nuggets in enabling the young people to run with the baton.

Why is it important to have an international platform for artistic exchange?

It’s really important they have the opportunity to develop as international artists with international experiences and cultural connections that are memorable and platforms for moving onward. They will have forged links with local and wider communities, opening doors for the creative’s here and abroad, as champions for change.