ArtReach is proud to have a long standing relationship with one of the UK’s leading Islamic arts, heritage and cultural organisations as we have worked with Milton Keynes Islamic Arts and Culture for a number of years. From artistic programming to supporting fundraising, this relationship has helped to shape MKIAC’s organisational development over a number of years with practical advice, business planning and further event delivery. The MKIAC festival is a regular highlight in the Midlands’ cultural calendar and each year ArtReach looks forward to the vast array of intriguing artists, exhibitions and events that the festival brings to the area.
More recently, Jo Dacombe from the ArtReach consultation team has been working with MKIAC on securing funding for a new project ‘Building Communities and Community Buildings’. This project will explore the diversity of migrant stories on the initial and ongoing development of Milton Keynes as a city. The project will look at the communities who relocated to Milton Keynes and the buildings, partnerships, relationships and cultural or creative groups that this migration has created.
Together, we’re thrilled to announce that with fundraising support from ArtReach, MKIAC have been awarded £94,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to deliver this extensive programme alongside some key cultural and creative organisations across the city.
Milton Keynes Museum will support researching, recording and the digital archive of interviews of older migrants to the area, being led by young participants who’ll be trained with interview techniques in a series of workshops. Local community centres MKMA, Zainabiya Madressa Centre and Ramgarhia Sabha Sikh Community Centre will be on the programme as well and explore the migratory stories of some of the long term city residents too. MKIAC will further work with MK Museum to set up a new Community Panel that will input into the Museum’s new exhibition about the development of Milton Keynes as a New Town.
Anouar Kassim, Founder & Director of MKIAC, explains that there is “a rich vein of heritage in Milton Keynes, a diverse pot of cultures that have come together, integrated and grown with the town itself. Considering Milton Keynes was built just over 50 years ago, it’s incredible to see how many cultures, religions, businesses, families and communities from all over the world are settled here. Not only do we want to capture those stories, we want the next generations to be able to understand, learn from and celebrate that history too.”
Jo Dacombe, Arts and Heritage Consultant for ArtReach, expands: “The idea is stunning in its simplicity and will allow us to understand, empathise and enjoy this vast tapestry of heritage stories that would otherwise remain hidden from view. Through a series of partners and workshops we’ll upskill young people in the city to host the interviews with the generations above. The young people will then be involved in the digital archiving and creative celebrations that will form part of the programme of events as these stories are discovered. We aim to explore the depths of these stories with local schools, finding creative ways to celebrate and bring the communities together to truly celebrate this unique town in all its glory. We’ll also set up a Community Panel that will work to represent the diverse communities of MK in the Museum’s exhibition.”
A significant output for the project will be the digital archive of the interviews, which audiences will be able to access on the MKIAC website, spreading these intimate tales a little further around the world. The project begins when current restrictions will allow and will culminate with creative celebrations in schools across the area in 2022.
Thanks to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for the support shown with this project. It’s a unique approach to exploring unique communities in a rather unique town and we’re excited to see the final results next year.