In Haunt

Whether you are superstitious or not, Friday 13 July 2018 certainly was an unfortunate day for outdoor arts company Walk the Plank – as one of their new workshops in Salford’s Cobden Works was broken into. An extensive fire was caused by intruders who were sadly never caught, resulting in devastating damage.

 Since that tragic night just over a year ago, Walk the Plank have had to start all over again to regenerate the Bay 2 Workshop. After extensive redevelopment to the building, now they are inviting the public to support them via a Crowdfunder: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/newgreenroof with the aim of raising £10,000 towards a new roof that puts eco-friendly credentials at its core.

Walk The Plank Fire

This highlights Walk the Plank’s crucial environmental awareness, passionate not just about celebrating the local community and bringing people together, but playing an energy-efficient part within it. Their recent production of the tenth Manchester Day Parade was a key example of this – Walk the Plank celebrating their shared green agenda with Manchester City Council by encouraging floats and parade pieces to incorporate sustainable materials wherever possible. Manchester Day actively promotes itself as a parade which is pushed, pulled, cycled, recycled and upcycled.  Walk the Plank are also members of MAST, the Manchester Arts Sustainability Team which aims to collectively pursue best sustainable practices through its work.

The new roof will not only be more energy efficient, but will also be more resilient and allow the space to be used in all weathers, opening up more creative possibilities and turning a negative situation into new opportunities.  This means that Walk the Plank can continue to build their reputation as providing high-quality artistic engagement and experiences from their Salford base to communities across the world; whether that is a rural village or thousands of people in a city.

A compassionate, people-centred approach is, after all, at the heart of Walk the Plank, and their story certainly is interesting. After transforming an old Norwegian ferry into Europe’s first touring theatre ship in 1992, they have gone on to be one of the most cutting-edge outdoor arts companies of their kind. Events have included everything from a parade of Strolling Bones at Manchester’s Halloween in the City last October, to ‘Space Walk’ at this years’ Bluedot Festival, multiple firework displays, a Paralympic torch-lighting ceremony and even a 20-foot high mechanical baby in their recent ground-breaking production with learning-disabled theatre company ZARA!  And that is to name just a few examples of their artistry, crucially putting a smile on people’s faces.

Yet all this creativity was thrown into disarray when staff walked into the Cobden Works on the morning of Saturday 14 July and were confronted with shocking scenes; the fire overnight having caused severe damage throughout the workshop, making it unusable. This was particularly devastating given that Walk the Plank’s base in the Cobden Works was a relatively new development, having transformed space inside this former light steel factory into a thriving creative hub.

Walk The Plank Fire

In fact, just months before the fire, the company had been awarded three RIBA architectural awards in Liverpool for their building (pictured below, before the fire) which was praised for its original design and the impact it had created on the local area. 

In its last crowd-funding campaign the organisation was able to fund solar panels on the roof of their Bay 1 Workshop and if they exceed their £10k target in this latest campaign their plan is to add solar panels to Bay 2 – further enhancing the roof’s green credentials.

Walk The Plank

In that spirit of solidarity, as well as determined to continue their creativity in Salford, Walk the Plank are therefore inviting people support their Crowdfunder for an eco-friendly, more durable roof to provide the building with lasting protection and sustainability. The Crowdfunder is now live with a £10,000 target to be reached by August 22nd 2019 – an opportunity not only to contribute to the building, but itself building a strong foundation for exciting, experimental arts projects in the future.

According to Tom Warman, Marketing and Communications Director at Walk the Plank: 

“The virtual destruction of one of our workshops was a massive blow to everyone, especially given that we’d been in our new space for less than a year. Because the new workshop needs a new roof we’ve made the decision to invest in a more environmentally-friendly solution which will help us make big savings on energy costs, while also making the site even more secure.” 

By Emily Oldfield

Photography with thanks to Simon Buckley (See his Not Quite Light project here).

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