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Jubilee Arts was a unique community arts organisation based in Sandwell in the Black Country. This web site documents the period 1974-94, two decades of tremendous change. Locked away in the basement of West Bromwich Town Hall since the last century, we’ve dusted off the archive boxes, bringing them back to the light of day to share our findings here.

The last two shows with archive material at West Bromwich and Smethwick have now been derigged but you can find documentation on the Facebook page and we will be adding more material to this site. There’s plenty to explore here!

Image of Week

From the archives we have selected a particular photograph to share with you, along with some thoughts from local individuals, our curators and participants. Perhaps never seen before, these images offer an insight into the Black Country and our changing lives.

Banner Theatre, 1984

Banner Theatre were formed in 1973. They were a diverse group of people – folk singers, drama teachers, office workers, broadcasters, technicians, factory workers. Some of their founder members came from Centre 42, a project initiated by Charles Parker and Arnold Wesker in the early 1960s, which aimed to interest trade unionists in radical culture. Others were recruited from the Birmingham Folk Centre and the Grey Cock Folk Club. Parker was an innovative broadcaster who had come to work at the BBC Pebble Mill Studios in Birmingham in 1954. He was renowned for producing ‘The Radio Ballads’ (1957-1964), with Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger, a series which described the lives and experience of working people in their own words and music – an unheard of practice at the time.

Banner’s raison d’être was – and still is – creating and performing work in partnership with the Trade Union movement, and working class and disenfranchised communities. In the early 80’s, and during the Miners Strike, they worked with members from Jubilee on a numbers of events. The barn dance musicians for the Jubilee Community Celebration projects were initially drawn from Banner. It’s also worth noting that Banner introduced Jubilee to the joys of back projection and tape-slide work. This photograph is from a rehearsal with Kevin, Jacqueline Contré and Dave Rogers. They may well be singing a chorus of “Hold the line! Hold the line! We’ll be there before the dawn, to hold the picket line.’

Banner have recently been working with Infamous Arts to create a website based on their own archives – Catching Stories, Making History – which is launched on September 30th, 2017.

Previously

Projects

In the spirit of the original arts group we returned to the original locations in the borough and worked with groups to explore and interpret the material. This has informed our choice of images to share. We’ve also made a selection of key projects to provide more background. Click on these below to find out more.

In the archive we came across some film material. Here’s some footage from 1977, which offers a good introduction to the work of Jubilee at that particular time.

 “Whether you’re a researcher, a history buff, a genealogist, someone interested in photography and the arts, you’ll find something fascinating in these archives. This archive includes the single largest collection of photography and film of Sandwell people and communities over the past 40 years, including people, communities and activities not normally reflected in the official archives of this period. It has given us the opportunity to re-engage with the communities today to celebrate their past heritage and think about how we may shape the future.”

Maureen Waldron, Archives Outreach Officer, Sandwell M.B.C