Riotous Youth Arts Project Coming to West Cumbria

West Coast Makers & the guys bringing unruly youth art to Workington!

Meet your new best arty friends, North Star Co-Design – a community interest company co-directed by Louie Ingham and Lee Mattinson. They’ve been working in the Arts & Theatre sector for twenty years, Louie as a Director and Lee as a Playwright – and have worked collaboratively for the past nine years, increasingly working co-creatively with communities. Having worked extensively in the Byker Wall Estate in Newcastle they are now bringing their change-making arts project to West Cumbria. 

We want to support their brilliant project and they want to hear from queer youth!

Hi guys! Can you sum up what West Coast Makers is and where the idea came from?

Lee is originally from Workington and was inspired to create a space he felt he himself would have benefitted from as a young gay person growing up on the West Coast. Before he was a writer, he was a creative and curious teenager and recognised that a space which caught and nurtured both these aspects of his identity would’ve revolutionised his teen experience. Together we visited existing provisions and sought to design an offer unique in its creative and collaborative ambition.

What can people expect from the project?

West Coast Makers has been co-designed for young people aged 16-21 years old and we are particularly interested in hearing from queer young people and their allies. It is a weekly two-hour session during which we will ask one another what it is to be beautifully and riotously us. We will welcome a series of visiting artists into the space from across the UK who will co-lead workshops in spoken word, Afro Fusion hip hop, queer culture and songwriting. 

Why do you think a project like this is important for Cumbria?

Safe spaces are incredibly important in Cumbria – more important are spaces which not only keep their young people safe but encourage them to thrive within it. West Coast Makers is the first of several projects we’re developing across West Cumbria as part of a ten-year strategy called Riot Riot Riot. We’re interested in embedding a climate of cultural exchange across the North, equipping young makers with the tools to be change-agents for themselves and arming the county with the infrastructure with which to retain its artists.

Who are you looking to work with?

West Coast Makers is a safe and accessible space in which to explore what ‘making’ and ‘creating’ mean to you. It is a room in which to dare, dream and do – to be collectively ambitious and make a noise about what it is to be creatively wild in Cumbria today. If this sounds like you – West Coast Makers was built for you.

How do people get in touch with you?

If you’re interested in joining the ensemble, please email westcoastmakers@outlook.com and we’ll send you a short expression of interest form to complete.

If people are tempted to get in touch but are perhaps nervous about taking part in something with new people, what would your advice be?

Our biggest and loudest message would be that West Coast Makers – in it’s very DNA – is a space for everyone. In our own DNA as makers and artists is the ability to create a space that is equitable and has the power to be transformative. We’ve run many similar projects and the best outcomes are informed by a range of different people and voices in the room – loud and soft, nervous or not. We were also both those nervous young people (and still often are) but only by experiencing co-creative spaces like West Coast Makers, do we understand the power of finding your tribe.

What are you hoping the outcome of West Coast Makers to be?

The joy of co-creation is we don’t know. The outcome – if there is one – will be decided by the people in the room and informed by what drives and inspires them as they evolve as makers and creators throughout the process. 

How can we keep up with what you guys are up to?

Our website is currently a work-in-progress but, in the meantime, we can be contacted on westcoastmakers@outlook.com or northstarcic@gmail.com

West Coast Makers sessions will run from March 2024 on Monday evenings in Workington town centre between 6pm-8pm. Sessions are free and we have travel bursaries available for young people who require them to get to and from the venue.

Photo credits -Louie Ingham & Lee Mattinson by David Jones / Abdul-Aziz Kouama by Sophie Teasdale / Sky Frances by Pamela Raith.