The Tottenham UpLIFTers is a long-term artistic collaboration commissioned by the London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT) conceived and directed by Darren and Alice Fleming. It brings together a cohort of 30+ students from two schools in the London district of Tottenham: Duke’s Aldridge Academy School and The Vale School and a group of Tottenham artists. The intention is to train the young people to eventually take over LIFT itself (the young people have already chosen which desk they will eventually occupy).
Modelled after Darren’s long-term work with youth in Toronto and Germany and deploying the principles in his Succession Model of Youth Labour Engagement (SMYLE), the Tottenham upLIFTers started with the youth when they were age twelve in 2015 and continues with them for five years, building an ensemble of young artists and cultural producers, and folding them into the LIFT and Mammalian family of international collaborators.
The Tottenham upLIFTers is focused on four primary outcomes:
1. Anchor LIFT to a specific geographic community for the purposes of strengthening LIFT’s connection to a more diverse set of Londoners.
2. Diversify the cultural industries.
3. Address the deprivation of Tottenham.
4. Give LIFT to the kids of Tottenham
Meet the Uplifters: UpLIFTers Year One
Meet the upLIFTers was year one of the Tottenham upLIFTers and featured the students tossed into monthly workshops with local artists in a range of art-forms including film, cat-walk modelling, acting, dancing, spoken word, and theatre. The artists ó Jeremy Carne, Imwen Eke, Keren Ghitis, Gunes Guven, Kazuko Hohki, Jess Murrain, Theo Omambala, Louis Parker Evans and Elsabet Yonas ó were all tasked with primary assignment to ìblow the kid’s minds.î Which they carried off with aplomb.
The year culminated in a presentation of Mammalian Diving Reflex’s The Children’s Choice Awards, an intervention into LIFT 2016 that saw them as the Official Festival Jury, awarding other festival artists with honours all decided by them, and described in their own words complete with the Dysfunctionals, the backing band from The Vale school, featuring Johnnaten Gonsalves.
Live On The High Street: UpLIFTers Year Two
Live On The High Street consisted of bespoke site-specific performance projects devised by local artists and the students in collaboration with local businesses, each exploring spaces, people and chicken.
Theo Omambala worked with Chicken Town, Tottenham’s social enterprise chicken shop and local eco designer, Jose Hendo to create a flash mob dance number. Gunes Guven & Elsabet Yonas worked with Tottenham High Road record store, Body Music to design the first protest that any of the youth have every attended. Imwen Eke worked on Tottenham High Road in conjunction with Body Music, Chicken Town and Bernie Grant Arts Centre on a geo-locative project that explored the area. Kazuko Hohki faced the menace of gentrification full-on, introduced the youth to a property realtor and an anti gentrification activist, both of whom frightened the children, who then produced architectural models of their ideal Tottenham.
UpLIFT the Night Year Three
UpLIFT the Night is a year of exploring the city and attending a whole range of cultural events at organisation within the LIFT universe. The upLIFTers are also facilitating events, speaking on panels, meeting with funders, engaging in performances, thoroughly building their confidence, dexterity and grasp of LIFT’s corner of the UK cultural sector and sharing their expertise with others.
Year three culminated in a presentation of Nightwalks with Teenagers at the 2018 LIFT Festival in collaboration with Mammalian Diving Reflex, the Young Mammals and Mit Ohne Alles from Germany.
The Tottenham Takeover of Toynbee on Toast (with Beans): UpLIFTers Year Four
The Tottenham Takeover of Toynbee on Toast will feature regular sessions of mentorship at the Toynbee Studios with the LIFT team and affiliates, who will share their knowledge of event production with the upLIFTers.
The UpLIFTers program will run through until LIFT 2020. Follow the journey on the LIFT website.