Creative Citizens and building creative communities — case study

Firestarters and Imrana Mahmood

Firestarters was a Revoluton Arts incubation programme for small-scale creative projects.

It aimed to both support individual members from Luton’s diverse communities to develop their own creative projects through mentoring, professional development and resources, and connect Revoluton to grassroots activity going on in the town.

Imrana Mahmood was one of the three Firestarters commissioned.

Imrana is a former secondary school teacher, and an active member of Dar Aminah, a Muslim women’s organisation.

The story

  • Revoluton’s Community Activist introduced the idea of Firestarters to Imrana. After exploring possible options she decided on a Creative Writing Collective for women.

  • The next step was naming the group; Imrana and Shana Kiely, who would work with her on the project, decided on Qalam, meaning ‘pen’ in Arabic, Persian, Sindhi and Urdu.

  • Members of the collective were recruited from Dar Aminah book club, though Shana’s connections at the University of Bedfordshire, and via Facebook.

  • Twelve women came to the launch of the group in July 2017 and seven continued as active members of the group.

  • Birmingham-based spoken word artist Amerah Saleh of Beatfreeks, provided creative mentoring to the group, advising on the process and taking part in the initial walk.

  • The group met every fortnight at the Hat Factory in Luton town centre, and the choice of venue was important for Imrana: “It’s about redefining the arts scene and bringing audiences into existing spaces.”

  • Members were at different stages in their writing; one had written a novel, whilst another was completely new to creative writing. The group provided mutual support and critique of each other’s work and then created pieces around specific topics; beginnings, barriers, bodies, belonging, and beyond forms.

  • A performance and presentation of the work of the group took place at Connors, the Hat Factory’s Café Bar on 14 December 2017. An audience of 24 came along to the women-only, ‘pay what you want’ event.

Download the full Firestarters case study below.

Firestarters Case Study

Join the revoluton