We have just completed two music-related projects for Leeds City Museum. Collaborative projects with Leeds Museums & Galleries and funded by the Arts Council England, these two projects have focused on both the historical and contemporary music scenes in the Leeds area, both showcasing how the music happening in Leeds has not only helped change the political attitudes of the country at large, but also how it continues to add to the vibrancy of the city today. With our Creative Director, Paul Banks, in the music industry himself, this has been a very exciting project for us to be involved with.
“Rock Against Racism” is a compelling documentary about the struggle to bring musicians from all backgrounds to be able to perform on stage together, and to racially diverse audiences. The setting up of the RAR Club at Leeds Polytechnic in 1978 - a weekly club night that allowed those bands, and music fans alike, who believed in racial unity to enjoy their musical diversity at a welcoming venue. “The Gang of Four”, “The Mekons” and “Delta Five” were just three of the regulars to support the Rock Against Racism mantra. The talking head style documentary includes interviews with artists from the period and also Paul Furness, one of the founding members.
The highlight of the film refers to the classic Potternewton Park concert in Leeds City on 4th July 1981. With headline bands such as ‘The Specials’ and ‘Aswad', it was to be the start of the multi-racial music acceptance that we enjoy today. Incorporating old photographs from the event, the film provides great historical information of this milestone moment.
The second film has a more contemporary look at the street music scene in Leeds with an insightful interview with rapping artist, Marcus (rap name Dialect), who is a regular busker in the town centre. This documentary looks at busking as part of the musical fabric of the city and highlights the vibrancy that it brings to the culture of Leeds. Marcus discusses how from a nervous start, he very quickly felt encouraged by the street audiences to continue creating music in Leeds City centre and how positively it is always received by the people of Leeds. The film also includes interviews with Timunien, a Celtic harpist, Ella, a teenage singer and guitarist, Nathan, a street drummer and Peter, a veteran singer, performing for 27 years on the streets of Leeds City centre. They are keen to point out how supportive Leeds City Council are in keeping the tradition of busking as accessible as possible.
Two contrasting films - they chart the growth of musical diversity that exists in the city of Leeds today. As Paul Furness points out, music not only gives pleasure to an audience but provides a powerful vehicle to create political change. This moment in history in a Leeds park in 1981 was to change the music scene in the UK forever. You can hear multi-cultural music on the streets of Leeds today, as in every town centre, thanks to the “Rock against Racism” movement started all those years ago.
Check out the links to these exciting projects. If you have a heritage or contemporary project you want to bring to life through the media of film, get in touch today!