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Barnsley Taps into the ‘Zine-Geist’

Zines, hand-made magazines or fanzines, are being championed in a new community project by The Civic in Barnsley.

The Civic is working with LGBTQ support groups around Barnsley to create their own zines and distribute them through support networks around the UK. Local artists, writers and zine-makers will inspire and guide each group into creating new work for the public and raise awareness about LGBQT issues.

 It is part of a new series of annually themed community zine projects delivered by The Civic to give a voice to teenagers, people identifying as BAME, LGBTQ and/or disabled, asylum seekers and mental health support groups.

Jason White, Community Engagement Officer at the Civic, said: “There’s a spirit of protest in the air and zines have served as a significant medium for over 50 years for various subcultures, including punk, fanfiction and politics. It predates the internet but isn’t too far removed from blogging culture or Tumblr. They are a fantastic expression of identity and an important cultural voice. Bypassing social media, zine culture remains as visceral, vibrant and inclusive as it ever was.”

Since the 1960’s, the zine scene has been a place for like-minded people identifying with specific sub-cultures, musical tribes, political parties, sporting teams or minority groups to share their ideas, politics, experience, writing, poetry and art.

A zine typically is a small circulation of self-published work within a circulation of 1,000 or fewer, in practice many zines are produced in editions of fewer than 100.

Jason added: “Zine culture bypasses mainstream borders. It’s a really important way for small communities to stay creative and connected and can help towards individuals’ well-being, especially for those from communities or groups that might be segregated or not part of national conversations. As part of The Civic’s 10th anniversary season, we will explore Northern stories and the influence of North of England culture. We hope the project will give a platform to an often unheard community and help highlight some of the issues that the LGBTQ+ community experiences.”

Online fashion retailer ASOS is continuing its partnership with The Civic’s visual art and engagement programme to promote access to arts and culture in the local area. This community zine project represents just the latest in a number of community engagement projects to have been funded by ASOS since The Civic opened ten years ago.

Louise McCabe, Director of Corporate Responsibility at ASOS, which is sponsoring the project, said: “We believe people should have the confidence to be whoever they want to be. Sub-culture, identity and diversity has always led the way in fashion and zines can be a source of inspiration and exciting movements and ideas.”

Workshops will take place throughout June 2019 culminating in an exhibition of work and pop-up zine library. 

Creative writing workshops will be led by Northern Writers Award winner, writer and poet Vicky Morris who runs Hive South Yorkshire, a creative writing hub for young people and the writer, poet and teacher, James Morgan Nash. Focussing on Zine Making will be the Sheffield textile artist and Zine maker, Seleena Laverne Daye.

Vicky Morris said: “Zines are about people claiming and celebrating their own ideas and voices from the grassroots in their own individual ways. They offer ownership over a creative and visual process and an end product. Along with creative writing, they can offer a really liberating process of thinking and creating for young people.”

Groups taking part include Targeted Youth Services’ LGBTQ Youth Support, TADS LGBTQ Youth Support Group, Barnsley MIND’s adult LGBTQ support group ‘In Your Shoes.’ 

The resulting zine and artwork will be exhibited in locations in Barnsley and Wombwell from September.