Collaborative art piece shines a light on local homelessness

Collaborative art piece shines a light on local homelessness
Collaborative art piece shines a light on local homelessness

A Brighouse non-profit is working with a West Yorkshire dance company to launch a project that aims to raise awareness of the struggles of homelessness.

Focus4Hope has worked in collaboration with Rees Dance on an outdoor performance project called “Living Shadows”.

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This work, funded by Arts Council England, was performed across various high traffic pedestrian areas in Calderdale as well as Leeds city centre in late December, ending with a final performance at Dortmund Square as a part of Focus4Hope’s fortnightly “Help the Homeless” event.

Focus4Hope, a non-profit community-based group in Brighouse that predominantly works with the most vulnerable groups across West Yorkshire, including the homeless.

The aim of the collaboration is to raise awareness for the struggles of homelessness and bring people together and make the project a collaborative social and educational experience.

Louise Reed, founder of Focus4Hope, said: “It’s great to be able to see the stories of the people we work with come to life in such a creative way.

“We hope that when people see the project it will inspire them to recognise how important it is to support the individuals in our community who need it most.”

Living Shadows is a collaborative project spearheaded by choreographer and creative director of Rees Dance, Gavin Rees, a professional dancer and rehearsal director.

Gavin worked alongside filmmaker and digital artist Wayne Sables to create a corresponding film for the project.

It was shown at the end of December at the Overgate Hospice Boutique Shop window in Brighouse.

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He said: “In the process of research and development we wanted to explore the themes of displacement and disenfranchisement.

“Anyone, from any walk of life, can find themselves homeless.”

Focus4Hope offered resources through the development process, including artwork created by the homeless and opportunities to conduct interviews with them. Rees Dance incorporated these personal stories into the choreography and urged his dance artists to create characters to inform their performance.

“Our goal is for as many people as possible to stumble upon the work as it’s being performed in these public spaces,” Gavin added.

“This is valuable for exposing the community to the arts in an unexpected way.

“‘Living Shadows’ is all about representing and reflecting the experiences of people living homeless beside us every day, in a similarly public, although not often acknowledged way.”

The finished piece will also be displayed throughout various locations in Leeds on January 17.

For more information on Focus4Hope visit www.focus4hope.co.uk.

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