Based in Belper in rural Derbyshire, Fleet Arts shares its home with cotton mills that were a major part of the birth of the Industrial Revolution. During Lockdown, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, they decided to explore the heritage of the mills and their links to the slave trade through cotton. 

Using various creative methods, Fleet Arts worked with the local Youth Council, made up of representatives from all the local high schools, in a way that directly connected to their own life in the town. They also teamed up with 'Hip Hop Heals', an organisation from Birmingham that uses poetry, rap, drama, art and podcasts to explore sensitive topics in a thoughtful way. 

In 2022, the three groups were able to meet up in person for practical art workshops, where creative activities included creating a soundscape and making zines and protest placards. Inbetween, they met online to plan and create three podcasts. The young people interviewed a local historian, university professor and a Black Lives Matter activist to make their podcasts, learning about their town, its links to the global slave trade and its relevance to the present day.

“At the end of each podcast there is a communal poem/soundscape to make the outro an engaging rap! The group then held a pop-up showcase in one of the former mill buildings, featuring a pop-up banner with a QR code so people could listen to the podcasts/rap. This banner will now be hosted in Derby Museum of Making to help tell this important part of the area’s history.” Ola WIlson

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