A couple of months into the Brierley Hillness project the number of individual participants taking part in the mural workshop or ‘dropping-in’ to speak to us was fairly low, and we had a lower than expected uptake of bespoke creative workshops for community groups.
We needed to speak to as many people as possible about Brierley Hill as part of our commitment to consultation, but realised that through the creative workshops alone, we were not gathering enough responses.
We needed to gather more ‘words’ ‘descriptions’, ‘perceptions’ and ‘ideas’ about the town. We needed a different approach.
While not part of the original project planning, conducting street interviews was a useful way to engage with people who live, work and shop in Brierley Hill, but were not necessarily interested in taking part in a creative activity through Artspace.
We employed Brierley Hill resident Shona-Rose Gilsenan to conduct street interviews for a total of nineteen hours. These hours were spread over six sessions, and conducted on different days of the week to ensure maximum representation of different communities, ages and backgrounds as far as possible.
Shona gives us her impressions of the street interviews
In Brierley Hill we selected Saturdays to reach the broadest age ranges; Tuesdays to reach the older generation and market shoppers; and Thursdays to reach those in receipt of benefits on payment day. We interviewed 71 people. Here are the Street Interview Questions we asked.
We decided to film the first eleven hours of the street interviews in order to create a short film aimed at future developers, planners and stakeholders in Brierley Hill – bringing the voice of the community to them in a very real way, rather than presenting our findings in a written document. 25 of the interviews have been edited into a short film (14 mins) called My Brierley Hill.
The benefits of having film footage is that you get stories, articulated opinions rather than the one or two word answers and best of all – personalities. Obviously there is a cost to filming and editing, and transcribing interviews can be time-consuming, but you get a fuller picture of what people think, local accents, humour and an engaging narrative which can be used to influence.
From Street to Stage!
The transcripts of the interviews were used as source material to inspire the performance piece by Age UK, Dudley’s drama group – “Brierley Hilliness”. Watch the performance. Find out more about how the street interviews bacame part of the dramatic process.
Download Approaches to Community Engagement and Lessons Learnt for a slightly extended and print ready version (PDF). Download a TEXT ONLY VERSION Approaches to Community Engagement and Lessons Learnt (Word).