History is a collection of stories. We want to make all stories visible. How? By changing who tells these stories.
In 2016, Beatfreeks ran a project called ‘At What Cost?’ which explored the connections between Warwick Castle and the transatlantic slave trade, through art. The project added another perspective to the history presented at the castle. It did important work by bringing in new audiences and acknowledging the stories of a community that had otherwise been excluded.
But is that enough? We would argue not. It was one project. It was at one site. And it was one community’s story. There is a need for more. More projects, more sites and more stories.
At the same time, Beatfreeks and National Lottery Heritage Fund ran the campaign ‘Routes2Roots’ to question what culture and identity meant to young people in Birmingham. It helped show that there was another need: to get young people involved in the decision making of the heritage sector.
Don’t Settle brings both of these needs together. It will centre young people of colour to tell, through art and curation, the stories of communities that have been neglected in heritage. We will work with institutions that represent history in Birmingham and the Black Country to make this a priority.
How do we make sure these things keep happening? By giving young people the opportunity designing new youth engagement structures that change how decisions are made in heritage, who makes them, and who they are for.
The National Lottery Heritage Fund is supporting 12 projects under ‘Kick the Dust’, that challenge organisations to improve youth engagement in the sector. ‘Don’t settle’ is one of these projects and actively invites young people to kick the dust off heritage and not let it settle.
We will take the stories that have been pushed to the margins and print them onto the pages of history.
Stop settling for the margin. Stop settling. Don’t Settle.
Key Strands of Don’t Settle
Don’t Settle will run two programmes (curators and directors) for young people to work with our partners Birmingham Museums Trust, Chance Glass Works Heritage Trust and Roundhouse Birmingham.
Don’t Settle addresses key issues on race and representation. Lunar Campfires are events that provide a space for these to be openly discussed.
The project will work with Birmingham City University to uncover local neglected stories, develop research skills through public workshops and share resources.