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    Our team have travelled the world, leading not only to the discovery of fantastic artists delivering exceptional work but also innovative models of practice and engagement, working with young people and wider communities to create remarkable pieces of theatre. In 2015, we decided to focus this work in Tottenham and embarked upon a long-term programme of activity. Since then, we have been working with local schools, artists, young people, arts organisations and the local council and bringing them together with international artists and companies, building partnerships and developing critically-acclaimed commissions which celebrate everything Tottenham is.


    Hannah Azieb Pool, Artistic Director/CEO of Bernie Grant Arts Centre



    Starting in 2015UpLIFTersis an artistic collaboration between two Tottenham schools – Duke’s Aldridge Academy School and The Vale School – and LIFT The LIFT commission was conceived and co-directed by Darren O’Donnell and Alice Fleming as a five-year artistic partnership that introduces young students to the arts – inspiring, supporting and enabling them to create their own participatory arts experiences with, and for, the local community. 

    The programme primarily targeted a cohort of 30+ students and focused on teaching basic event production skills (conceiving, planning, scheduling, budgeting, promoting, executing and de-briefing) and how to work and collaborate with local organisations and businesses to create locally focussed events. Participating for their entire school career, the UpLIFTers’ activity strengthenand builds the local community as the wider school, family, friends and other members engage and support the students in their creative adventures. 

    Introduction to Advocacy – Talk Series

    In 2020, the UpLIFTers partnered with the UK’s only campus for young activists: the Advocacy Academy (AA) based in Brixton. It serves as a training programme for young activists where transformational organising movement for young people take place. In a peer-to-peer skills exchange the UpLIFTers are gaining knowledge from them about ways to utilise their voices for change and how to become agents of change for their community and neighbourhood. A short digital talk series was delivered by the AA Alumni, where they examined an Introduction to Advocacy. In each one hour talk and Q&A session, two young activists shared their journeys into advocacy, spoke about their motivations and passions and gave insight into how other young people can activate their own activism. Talks featured Re.Rooted, Fill In The Blanks (campaigns seeking to decolonise education in schools) and The HALO Collective (a campaign to raise an anti-racist hair charter in schools). Their engagement will be revisited in summer 2021. To hear about the sessions when they are announced, sign up to our newsletter 

    The Young People’s Rhyming Guide to Advocacy

    The UpLIFTers have been working with the extraordinary poet and activist Potent Whisper, who was commissioned by LIFT to support the production of a guide made by the UpLIFTers for other young people about getting involved in advocacy on their own terms.

    81 Acts of Exuberant Defiance

    2021 marks LIFT’s 40th Birthday and the 40th anniversary of the Brixton Uprisings. 81 Acts of Exuberant Defiance is the creatively-driven, cultural commemoration of these protests. The UpLIFTers are working with young activists at AA to amplify their campaigns sharing their producing skills and artistic knowledge to create artwork and public cultural experiences during 2021. To find out more about the 81 Acts and the UpLIFTers involvement when they are announced, sign up to our newsletter.


    Small Wonders


    LIFT’s first collaboration with Punchdrunk, pioneers of a unique form of theatre where audiences explore epic sensory worlds, was a brand-new show for families and children aged 5-11 years and premiered at our LIFT 2018 festival.

    Conceived by Punchdrunk, written by Nessah Muthy and inspired by the local stories and dreams of the Tottenham UpLIFTers, Small Wonders explored the power of our imagination and how the little things in life are sometimes the most important.

    Small Wonders took place at Bernie Grant Arts Centre from 2 June – 12 July as part of LIFT 2018.

    Nightwalks With Teenagers

    Mammalian Diving Reflex / Darren O’Donnell / UpLIFTers

    Audience saw a different side to our city in this poignant, rebellious walk on the wild side created in collaboration with the UpLIFTers, a group of teenagers from Tottenham who have been working with LIFT since 2015, their German counterparts, MIT OHNE ALLES from Ruhrtriennale, and their Canadian counterparts, The Young Mammals.

    They danced, laughed, ran, walked and parkoured their way through our urban playground, following shared paths and connected futures with the city’s youth.

    Nightwalks with Teenagers took place in East London from 1 – 3 June as part of LIFT 2018.

    Image: Josefina Tomassi


    Jérôme Bel (France)

    Jérôme Bel’s Gala is a triumphant celebration of dancing – amateur, professional and everything in between. It is a liberating show that encourages the audience to re-consider the judgements we make watching performers on stage.

    The London performances at Bernie Grant Arts Centre, Tate Modern and Sadler’s Wells featured a cast of local performers including some hyper local Tottenham residents. You can find out about some of them in this blog post.

    For more details see the listing in our LIFT archive here.

    Date: 11 October 2016.

    Image: Christophe Péan


    Michael De Cock (Belgium)

    A little girl tells how she and her mother travelled across Europe in a truck, fleeing the madness, looking for a safe home, a better life.

    Like so many thousands of migrants, KAMYON has journeyed across Europe. Following the premiere in Istanbul, the performance was staged in Slovenia, France, Czech Republic, Italy and Hungary.

    We were thrilled to present KAMYON in Tottenham as its only UK appearance. Performances were free, held inside the Kamyon (Turkish for truck) parked in the courtyard of the Bernie Grant Arts Centre.

    For more details see the listing in our LIFT archive here.

    Date: 11 October 2016.

    Image: Jalaikon

    Live On The High Street

    Year 2 of UpLIFTers saw the students working closely with Darren and Alice from Methods for Mammals as well as our UpLIFTers artists who are working locally. Live On The High Street consisted of bespoke site-specific performance projects devised by local artists and the students in collaboration with local businesses, each exploring native spaces and people.

    26 Nov 2016 – Theo Omambala worked with Chicken Town, Tottenham’s social enterprise Chicken shop and local eco designer, Jose Hendo (see photos)

    28 Jan 2017 – Güneş Güven Elsabet Yonas worked with Tottenham High Road record store, Body Music (see photos)

    25 Mar 2017 – Imwen Eke worked on Tottenham High Road in conjunction with Body Music, Chicken Town and Bernie Grant Arts Centre on a geo-locative project that explores the High St.

    20 May 2017 – Kazuko Hohki worked with architects John McAslan + Partners

    UpLIFTers – Year 1

    Darren O’Donnell (Canada)

    Our five-year project with Northumberland Park Community School and The Vale School, led by Darren O’Donnell of Mammalian Diving Reflex and delivered by a host of Tottenham artists – Jeremy Carne, Imwen Eke, Keren Ghitis, Güneş Güven, Kazuko Hohki, Jess Murrain, Theo Omambala, Louis Parker Evans and Elsabet Yonas.

    Year one of this project involved the students taking monthly workshops with local artists in a range of art-forms and culminated in them working closely with Darren on The Children’s Choice Awards, an intervention into LIFT 2016 that saw them as the Official Festival Jury, awarding other festival artists with honours all decided by them, and described in their own words.

    Image: Ray Jacobs

    Calling Tree

    Rosemary Lee and Simon Whitehead (UK)

    Haringey based artist Rosemary Lee worked collaboratively with Simon Whitehead on four days of public events located in and around a beautiful oak tree in Bruce Castle Park. There were performances in the tree involving four professional artists using ropes and ladders. There were also be a series of associated events including walks, talks and discussions, plus performances by local choirs and poets.

    Calling Tree and all its associated events were free to the public.

    For more details see the listing in our LIFT 2016 archive here.

    Dates: 30 June – 2 July, during LIFT 2016.

    Light of my Tottenham

    Mem Morrison (Turkey-Cypriot/UK)

    Internationally acclaimed artist Mem Morrison asked the people of Tottenham to nominate a local individual, whom for whatever reason, they feel has in some way been a light for them – an influence, support, an inspiration or a friend. The aim of this arts project was to shed light on the lives of local people and map out the many individuals that have helped shape Tottenham.

    Tottenham Portraits

    Dan Canham (UK)

    Collaborating with members of the local community, the choreographer/dancer Dan Canham completed a 7 week residency in June and July 2015. Through a process of capturing conversations, he worked to create the beginnings of a new piece of documentary dance-theatre that he has become renowned for Moving Portraits. Drawing on his research this new performance will be made up of fragments of memories and voices of the lives of the Tottenham residents he encounters and collaborates with. This project’s goal is to continue to present Tottenham’s reputation for ambitious and exceptional arts activity.


    If you want to find out more or get involved with our work in Tottenham, please contact us.