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Wigan’s Young people have their say in shaping the design of a larger-than-life puppet set to parade

Bringing parades, dance, live music, DJ’s, live performances and glitter, Streets Apart Festival is set to burst onto the streets of Wigan on Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th July. There will be lots of fabulous things to see and get involved in that nod to arts, music, dance, and leans into Wigan’s heritage, past, present, and future. The first chunk of the festivities will begin with a parade which has been made possible through Hi! Street Fest; Hi! Street Fest is an ambitious landmark, nationwide commission from Historic England with outdoor events expert Emergency Exit Arts.


This ambitious collaboration project will take the form of street parties and carnival celebrations, aiming to bring life and vibrancy to high streets in Gosport, Gloucester, Stalybridge, Middlesbrough, Wigan, and Lowestoft. Kicking off the festivities on Saturday 8th July, a huge parade will begin at Mesnes Park to welcome two playful puppets who will sashay their way through the town centre. A key factor fundamental to the making of the festival is the community effort required to produce a home-grown procession that is rooted in locally curated activities.

A key factor fundamental to the making of the festival is the community effort required to produce a home-grown procession that is rooted in locally curated activities. Independent Community Arts Organisation, EVERYDAY (formerly known as Wigan Steam) have worked with young people across Wigan to design a puppet that represents the town using the artistic concept, ‘A person just like you and me’.


Everyday‘s Engagement Director, Emily Calland told us “It was amazing to work with over 70 young people in the design process for them to create somebody that they thought represented someone from Wigan”.

A great element to this project is that different components of each of the young people’s designs inspired the final outcome. Emily said that “some were inspired by Wigan’s mining history and wanted to represent this in a subtle way”, this can be seen in the colour or Frankie’s the puppet’s t-shirt, which symbolizes the colour that of what the miners wore. Emily went on to say that other children were discussing the future of Wigan, “it’s not just coal cotton and carbohydrates, it’s creativity, it’s the music scene and it’s the young people and what they would like to see in their home town”.

No stone was left unturned when discussing the design of the puppet character, from their persona, clothing, and accessories that hint to Wigan’s heritage relating to its beautiful nature spots, culture with slight reference to its industrial past. What came from the discussion and designs in the making sessions was that young people visualised the character of the puppet to be an artist, this included dancers, painters, and musicians. A huge pencil can be seen etched into the dungarees of the puppet, who is named Frankie along with a stick of rock, symbolic of Wigan Pier.


With designs packed, Emily travelled to Newbury in Oxford for an artist residency at 101 Outdoor Arts to bring Frankie to life.

Aside from getting to work with and meet lots of other artists from across the UK, Emily told us that the residency was a memorable experience. “It’s rare that I get to go somewhere and make something, I’m always working on delivering things for other people which can put my creative practice on backburner and there can be less time for me to make things for myself, so it was really amazing to get the opportunity to go and do that”.


In the lead up to the festival there has been lots of wrap around creative activity for local people to dive into! Everyday’s ‘Mini Makers’ will be taken over by Mini Ravers on 21st of June for children and their grown ups to let loose, boogie and create in our Courtroom to pump up the party vibes as the Festival comes closer!

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IMPORTANT UPDATE

Saturday 8th July 2023 | 10:00 Good Morning Everybody! We’re pleased to confirm the parade is going ahead today at a slightly earlier time. 🎉 After closely monitoring the weather reports, we have mad

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