University of York: Project to revitalise famous York street has launched

A vacant shop on York’s Coney street has been transformed into a gallery, printing press and cultural hub as a project to breathe new life into the historic street gets underway.

The Street Life project, led by University of York researchers, will run events from 29-31 Coney Street until the end of June. Activities will include music, creative writing, printing and heritage workshops.

Street Life, which has received funding of almost half a million pounds from the Government’s Community Renewal Fund, is bringing the thousand-year history of Coney Street to the fore and aiming to give the iconic thoroughfare a new and vibrant post-pandemic future.

Creative

The project will offer reskilling and development opportunities to volunteers and other members of the local community, and local businesses will be invited to explore new ways of understanding their history and heritage and to use these insights into the past to develop creative and commercial opportunities.

The formal launch of the project took place on Tuesday 19 April and was attended by the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of York, the University of York’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Charlie Jeffery and guests from across York’s creative and heritage community. The event featured live music and poetry, including two pieces written specifically for the launch by spoken-word artist Jessie Summehayes, and an exhibition of contemporary prints called “First Impressions”.

Community

Speaking at the launch, Professor Charlie Jeffery said: “What the team want to do here speaks to all of shared our goals: community histories and inclusive, accessible futures; renewed connections between York and the river that flows through the heart of the City; innovative, adaptive use of vacant and unused spaces; a boundless appetite for the creative energy that fuels York and the region; and, of course, a wholehearted commitment to our values as a University for the public good.”

The project is led by Professor Rachel Cowgill from the Department of Music (and Creativity Research Champion for the University), Dr Kate Giles from the Departments of Archaeology, and History’s Heritage360 research centre, and Professor Helen Smith from the Department of English and Related Literature and involves multiple partners from across the city including York Civic Trust, the York Conservation Trust, City of York Council and the York Music Venue Network.

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