The Turnpike CIC was a bold, independent not-for-profit arts project with community at its heart, based in Leigh, Greater Manchester.

This web archive, titled Could this be paradise? reflects on our 5 years in Leigh, highlighting the community voices and artists who have worked with us to shape our organisation.

We want to say a huge thank you to our Turnpike family; the team members, volunteers, artists, community members, peer organisations, funders and supporters who have invested their energy, creativity and ingenuity with us over the years.

Learning & Young People
Chapter Five

Across five years, The Turnpike CIC’s Learning and Engagement programme was shaped by us working closely with and learning from our artists and communities. Here are some words from our Learning and Engagement Manager, Hannah Gaunt —

"In the beginning, relationships were formed to test and explore possibilities for an education and outreach programme at The Turnpike. These early collaborative experiments were rooted in a desire to understand the ways that art and art making were meaningful to the community. At the weekends a local drama club was invited to take over the space, staging ad-hoc interventions that were messy and uninhibited by the conventions of white gallery walls. During the week adults recovering from addiction, or experiencing social isolation, worked with and within the exhibitions to respond, heal and transform the space into a sanctuary. Young people and teachers from local schools came to visit us, and in turn, we visited them – exchanging ideas, learning from each other.

It was on these relationships that we built the Learning and Engagement programme up, with three core principles threading through every aspect of the work. First, that providing opportunities to work with artists was our primary goal, and therefore all programmes would include professional, paid creatives, with suitable skills and experience. Secondly, a strongly held belief that art is for everyone and can be made by anyone. We would celebrate the creative outputs of toddlers, as well as aspiring young artists, or their parents, or teachers. By valuing both the specialism and craft of professional artist practitioners, and the inspirational, inherent and visionary creativity of our community, we were able to foster our third principle – collaboration. Bringing people together, to make amazing things – this was the alchemy that would create our magic. At the very least, these guiding principles or values enabled us to propel forward exciting and joyful projects and programmes. At it’s best, however, the Learning and Engagement programme transformed the aspirations of local children and young people, created a safe space for families, engaged the creative synapses of the youngest brains and lifted the spirits of isolated parents, invigorated teachers and students, and created friendships and solidarity across communities and generations."


Helen Stalker, Director, on learning from artists. Read the transcript