Culture Camps: School’s out for a creative summer

Polly Checkland Harding

These newly released Culture Camps at Central Library are a great way for teens to stay entertained during the school holidays.

We all remember having summer holidays. Weeks on end of leisure time, days that – looked back on – seem to stretch out endlessly in a halcyon haze. We remember them, but how often can we recall exactly what we filled them with? Is it just me, or do the years in which there was more actual free time, hours empty of anything organised, actually fade faster in our memory? But there’s the rub: where the kids get a lazy stretch of time off each summer, it’s the parents who have to figure out what on earth to do with them, how to make the time memorable. What could be better, then, than pre-packaged distraction: three separate workshop series focusing, in turn, on drama, music and digital animation.

Three separate workshop series for teenagers, focusing on drama, music & digital animation

That’s the idea behind the Culture Camps as part of Library Live. Designed for 12-15 year-olds, each one will run Tuesday through Thursday, 9.30am – 3.30pm at Manchester’s Central Library. Drama comes first (29-31 July), giving the teenagers who sign on access to original archive materials, including letters and photographs, which will then inform their own scripts and sketches. MaD Theatre Company will be running the workshop, making good use of the library’s new projection, lighting and sound facilities in the preparation of a devised piece, performed for friends and family at the end of the week. For those less stage-savvy, and with more of a passion for chords, a music workshop will be running the following week (5-7 August). It’s a chance to explore the stunningly reimagined Henry Watson Music Library, complete with musical instruments, mini-stages and resource materials. Led by Brighter Sound, there will be sessions ranging from beatboxing, MCing, junk-percussion, vocal techniques and songwriting – a whole range of musical goodness, in fact, to tempt intrigued teenagers.

Finally, a digital animation workshop (19-21 August) will be held in the library’s new Media Lounge: here, the group will work towards creating an original online game. Animation experts Drive-by will talk them through the stages, helping to come up with a storyboard, modelling and filming plasticine characters before finally uploading the game using the media suite’s software. A couple of weeks of post-production magic and, hey presto, the finished version will be sent out to all those who worked on it. So, these three Culture Camps are not only a great way of developing burgeoning creative passions, they’re also a really nice introduction to Central Library as a whole. Here’s to new friends, new resources – and summertime activities that will be remembered far longer than days slumped in front of the gogglebox.

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