York Dance Space: Reflections on iMOVE and ideas for the Open Brief

iMove was performed on 29th September 2019 in the Castle Car Park.

6th March 2020

Initial call

The project recruited from 16 different schools through an open call. The initial call was for a performance in the car park – that was the draw.

The city centre?

The young people involved felt that the city centre was not a place for them. The places they do go in town are Urban Outfitter, the murals off Coney Street or Art of Protest on Little Stonegate.  All make good backgrounds for social media photographs. We worked with Hannah Davis to develop a poem. They said they like colourful places; smells of old things; of dust; charity shop smells; a homely feel. Then the young people developed moves. Young people also developed the score and performed it live.

What makes a good outdoor performance space?

We need adaptable performance spaces, like at the Piece Hall in Halifax. There are steps and it means you can perform to an audience and not stop other people moving through the public space. Young people want to perform. There is a real value in having something to work towards, to take responsibility and to get to an end goal. People feel like they’ve achieved something. Rehearsing in a public space means bringing young people to a new place and for them to take ownership over it.

To add to the Open Brief:

Power: Two or more power points to reduce need to cables.

Surfacing: Flat surface (no potholes!)

Sitting: Architecture can be steps and seating. Rather than feel like a Greek theatre.

Toilets: Need toilets that can be designated – in order to cover safeguarding requirements.

Green room: Hilton Hotel was needed as a green room.


Booking: It would be ideal if there was a specific person at Make it York so booking and risk assessment could be more of a conversation. This would help get away from a one-size-fits-all approach (in terms of risk assessment or fire risk assessment). Recent new appointments at Make it York may address this.

Specifications in the space: It would be useful to have some specifications of how an area can be set up.

Seasons: There could be seasons when it is set up in a certain way and a there is a number of different performances from different companies. This so could also act as in-kind support in applications to arts funders. There used to be a Dance Festival in parliament street in a marquee it was very popular (though M&S toilets had to be used as a place to change!).

Evolve the space: It makes sense not to try and finish the new public spaces in the Castle Gateway area straight away. Use and trying out different uses could become part of the codesign process. CYC could create some small pots of funding and enable different community groups to try things out.

Reference points:

Look at Without Walls – ‘excellence and innovation in outdoor arts’

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