Dudley Town Hall, 1987

This image shows Pete Yates from Banner Theatre, working with video with young lads at a weekend youth festival organised by Jubilee. Community arts organisations often swopped workers for particular projects, or loaned them out and shared equipment, the cross-fertilisation of skills and different approaches offering new learning. Pete Yates was a multi-instrumentalist and oral historian who worked with Banner Theatre, who were originally 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 80s, and during the Miners’ Strike, they worked with members from Jubilee on a number of events and campaigns. Several of the barn dance musicians for the Jubilee Community Celebration projects were initially drawn from associates of Banner. It’s also worth noting that Banner Theatre also introduced Jubilee to the joys of back projection and tape-slide work. 

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