We moved into three units in the Old Town Hall in Rotherham at the end of 2021, and with all hands/wings/talons on deck, we managed to open the doors of our shop just four days before Christmas on 21st December 2021! This was only a temporary space, but despite that, visitors often commented on how beautiful and how ‘settled’ it all appeared. The Writer’s Pad at the other end of the arcade, which we fondly renamed as Linger Longer Lane, opened its secret door to the first school group soon afterwards on 11th January 2022. Our presence in the centre of town meant that we could reach new audiences and spread the Grimm word to people new to the charity.
Our first big event at the Old Town Hall was held in the February half term to launch the Children’s Capital of Culture. We held five days of events for all ages, including Granny Norbag, Khula Arts music and dance, Spinning yarns, and more. The windows of all the units were filled with joyful, imaginative designs that told stories of fairytales and communities, and the townsfolk loved wandering through the colourful, revived space. As one staff member said, “the festival was really vibrant, inclusive and full of activities”. You can watch this video as a reminder of the lovely time we had.
This was quickly followed by our Grimm Gathering in May/June, welcoming visitors from across Yorkshire to celebrate stories and imagination. We had music making, Owl Babies and Crabby for the little ones, flamenco, shadow puppets, world building and local stories for families, and rap and journalism for the older teens. Click here for a reminder of that lovely event. We can’t wait to do this again, and we plan to have a fabulous, inclusive story festival every year going forward!
We also attended lots of other festivals from our central base at the Old Town Hall, including WOW and Ferham Festival in the sweltering heat of the summer, the Get Up To Speed event at Magna, and of course, the fun-packed Rotherham show in September! We hope you managed to come along to some of these events, joining us for an activity and a free book or two?
We were involved with many school projects, including the Who’s Your Neighbour project with SSELP schools, the Spoken Word Power poetry project with Eastside Educational Trust in London, culminating in a celebration event held at Rotherham Civic Theatre, and the Artsmark Day to Create in schools! This took place on 6th July 2022, and schools across the UK were treated to The Case of The Missing Memories!
Our Out-of-school programme continued apace, with workshop programmes that included Grizelda’s Hall of Fame, celebrating great real and imagined women throughout history. This tied in nicely with our Euro’s Celebration Day in July, welcoming visitors from across Europe to Linger Longer Lane, taking part in fun activities before heading over to the New York Stadium for the match.
One highlight of the time here must be the soap opera, Linger Longer Lane, written by our children and young people, and featuring a Scottish pigeon called Angus, a cheese wheel called Claire-Marie, and the weirdest plant in the world. The four episodes can be viewed on our Showcase page.
During our time here at the Old Town Hall, we have also launched our Family Learning programme, and Louise quickly established a steady following of happy babies and toddlers (with their grown-ups of course – she hasn’t turned into the Pied Piper!). There’ll be lots more of these sessions coming up when we move to our permanent home, with music, Lego cafes and lots of sensory play and stories. Our new Outreach coordinator, Sarah, has also been busy spreading the word and building relationships in communities across South Yorkshire.
We were thrilled to receive the news of the continuation of our National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) funding, recognising the importance of the work that Grimm & Co do with the children and young people across Yorkshire and beyond. We are so grateful to Arts Council England for their continued support.
Obviously, we can’t talk about the highlights of our time here at the Old Town Hall without mentioning our fabulous Founding Director, Deborah Bullivant, who not only completed her doctorate (featuring Grimm & Co, of course!), but also received an MBE in the Queen’s Jubilee Honours List for Services to Literature!
We have loved our time in the pop-up space at the Old Town Hall, and we want to thank everyone who made us feel so welcome here. As we start a new chapter of the Grimm adventure, we hope you stay with us during this quiet period, and come and join us very soon in our new home on Ship Hill!