If you go down Armley Town Street today, you’re in for a big surprise.
In late 2010, the I Love West Leeds Festival teamed up with Armley Town Centre Management to take over two large shop units left empty by an old Co-op pharmacy and a travel agent to create a community hothouse for art, culture and family-oriented fun.
Touted as an unashamedly creative place, exhibitions run alongside workshops and everyone is encouraged to join in whether that’s taking part or making art.
Francesca Panella, the shop project manager, has lined up artists, filmmakers, dancers, craft makers and even cake bakers to host exhibitions, activities and performances. So far there has been a film screening twinned with a festival in Portugal, a 24 hour drawathon, and even a call to the public for old bras which were then used in a dance performance.
Drawing on well-known names such as Mik Artistik (star of Leeds International Film Festival 2010 favourite Who Is Mik Artistik? and who famously performed his art at Glastonbury 2010) alongside local up-and-coming artists, there is a huge range of events; whether you’re new to the Leeds art scene or looking for the Next Big Thing.
And it’s not just for art fans either. Family dance workshops are being held regularly, and in conjunction with the shop is the ongoing Family Film Club held just down the road at Armley Mills. For those less culturally inclined there are practical events too, such as a popular weekly bike-fixing workshop where you can bring in your bike to be mended by young people on community service with the Youth Offending Service.
As I Love West Leeds Festival is run with the community, new events are being added all the time, so check the website www.ilovewestleeds.co.uk or go and look in the shop window for what’s coming next. If you fancy getting involved they encourage submissions through their website too.
The shop is running until the end of February when the new owners move in; but Festival organisers are already in talks to keep a bit of mischief going on down Town Street.