The Pitmen’s Parliament (Durham, January 2019)

The Miners’ Hall in Durham “Red Hills”, as it is known, is one of the finest trade union buildings in Britain. Built in 1915, it is still the headquarters of the Durham Miners Association. The Durham Miners’ Association was once a powerhouse of the Labour movement, building houses for retired miners, welfare halls in almost every pit village, libraries and hospitals through its members’ subscriptions. Red Hill today continues to be a vital and vibrant community space, acting as a venue for musicians, visual artists and cinema. Its historical artefacts provide an eclectic archive of labour history throughout the peace and war of the 20th century.

Over 7 days of workshops with local professional musicians and artists, participating children will explore the many stories to be found in the famous red bricks of the Miners’ Hall, the wooden benches of the Pitman’s Parliament, and the powerful brass bands of the world-famous Durham Gala.

Some examples of workshops that the children might participate in include:

Musical activities: designing and building instruments using household materials (e.g. wooden crates, funnels, hose pipe); writing graphic scores; experimenting with electronic music (e.g. recording and manipulating found sounds).
Performance activities: exploring stories using theatre exercises (e.g. freeze frames, hot seating).
Literacy activities: treasure hunts with riddles and clues to find stories hidden in and around the workshop location; personal diaries to record thoughts and ideas, with some structured questions to encourage reflection and writing practice.
Cross-curricular activities: learning about societal changes over the last 100 years, the children can consolidate facts and information learned by responding artistically, and telling their own stories about life in 21st century Durham.

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