We believe the creative arts have a unique and important role to play in building a shared identity for our communities. We strive to develop community cohesion and social interaction with Quakers and non-Quakers alike using participatory arts practice. Our work with individuals, community groups, artists and regional and national partners offers a programme that is contemporarily relevant. We encourage inclusivity and offer opportunities to those where access to the arts can be challenging.

Refugee Project – Displacement

Currently 60 million people worldwide are suffering from displacement (UN Refugee Agency UNHCR, 2015). People flee their homes and countries due to causes of war, conflict and injustice.

Leaveners have been working with refugee women and Restore Birmingham to explore women’s experiences of leaving their country and settling in the UK and the ongoing refugee crisis. The launch in September 2015 included an international poetry archive. Under the curatorship of Pete Stones, 11 poets from around the world published work about their experiences of and with displacement. The women responded to the work by exploring themes present in the poems and their own experiences of displacement and created textile prints, which have exhibited at P Café and the Peace Hub Birmingham, UK (January – February 2016).

paint and poems
Our workshop at P Cafe with Restore Befriend

During an art and philosophy event in collaboration with P Café, local community members were invited to respond through inter-cultural dialogue reflecting on the poems and textiles and to discuss topics around community and displacement. See the film here:

The ‘Displacement’ project was funded by the Bryan Lancaster Trust and supporting partners were P Café and Creative Astro.

Doing the Right Thing?

Throughout 2015 Leaveners have been working with young people of all backgrounds, exploring the stories and moral choices of conscientious objectors during WWI including connections to stories of young members of the prominent Birmingham Cadbury family. The project explored some of the alternative choices young people made, such as joining the Friend Ambulance Unit (Voices of War and Peace, University of Birmingham, 2015). Through drama and debate workshops young people reflected on questions around war and peace, and learned new skills in critical thinking and debating. Central to the project was the development of understanding and empathy towards different stances.

‘I found the session entertaining and eye-opening as I was introduced to new ideas’ (participant Young Muslims UK) [Image]

The ‘Doing the Right Thing?’ project was commissioned and funded by Central England Quakers and produced alongside the exhibition ‘Quakers in WWI’ at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. Supporting partner of the project was Birmingham Opera Company.