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City of Dreams brings Our City Our Story to NewcastleGateshead

Published: 30 January 2019
Reporter: Peter Lathan

“Statistics tell us 32% of children on Tyneside grow up in poverty,” says Ben Dickenson, Executive Producer for City of Dreams, “the percentage in care is high, a third experience mental ill health. But to know what it’s really like to be young in our city you need to listen to young people.”

And that is what Our City Our Story intends to do. It showcases stories made by more than 11,000 children and young people, bringing together dozens of films, poems, animations, performances, virtual reality, alternative city maps and interactive exhibitions, including:

  • Fed Up, a new play about food poverty by Live Youth Theatre
  • I Am the City, a film made by young people from West Newcastle with New Writing North
  • A virtual reality experience about living in care, produced by Curious Monkey
  • Mapping the City, drawing made by 1000s of young people with Northumbria University

The event takes place at Live Theatre on Thursday 7 March 2019 from 1:00 to 6:00 and involves 40 arts, culture, education and community partners. A team of young producers have designed the event programme, which will take over the Live Theatre building to give children and young people from Tyneside a platform to share the things that matter to them.

“No one,” adds Dickenson, “has brought together so many of their stories before.”

Artistic Director of Live Theatre, Joe Douglas said, “Everyone at Live Theatre is buzzing about hosting Our City, Our Story. City of Dreams can change the game. It is hugely ambitious but entirely possible. If the imagination and creative thinking of every young person in Newcastle and Gateshead is nourished and encouraged it can transform the adults that they become.”

Event curator Annalis Burratti added, “producing this event has been an amazing experience. We had dozens of submissions, from virtual reality films, to plays, to music, to art works, even arcade machines. They show the fantastic things young people can make, and together they tell us about the issues that matter to them: poverty, discrimination, abuse, exploitation, gender, growing up in care.”

The event concludes with a special session for VIPs, including a panel discussion chaired by comedian Mark Thomas. Panel members include Cllr Gary Haley (cabinet member, Gateshead Council), Cllr Nora Casey (cabinet member, Newcastle City Council) and Vee Pollock (Dean of Culture, Newcastle University).