Leicester punk project wins top national award
20th December 2023
A Leicester project which explores the story of Britain’s iconic 1970s Punk scene has been named English Project of the Year in the 2023 National Lottery Awards.
Punk: Rage & Revolution has brought together more than 250 young people, many from disadvantaged and underrepresented communities, to engage with original Punks and compare social and cultural issues from a tumultuous time in history with today.
The project, led by Soft Touch Arts, beat off stiff competition from 3,780 nominees across the UK to reach the public voting stage in this year’s National Lottery Awards, which celebrate the inspirational people and projects who do extraordinary things with the help of National Lottery funding.
Punk: Rage & Revolution has emerged as the National Lottery English Project of the Year following a competitive public vote which was held earlier this year.
Delighted to be crowned as a winner by the public, Sally Norman, Co-Director at Soft Touch Arts, said: “We’re amazed and thrilled that we’ve won this award. When we started the project, we never could have dreamed that this would be possible! I’d like to say a massive thank you to all the people that voted for us. It really means a lot.”
“Winning the English Project of the Year is a great reflection of all the hard work that everyone has put into the project, particularly the incredible young people who have shown so much enthusiasm for what we’re doing.”
With input from more than 50 people who were part of the local and national movement in the late 1970s, young participants have learnt from original Punks and embraced the opportunity to create art, music and sustainable fashion which sit alongside nostalgic items in the exhibition. Some contributors even leant fascinating memorabilia to the project for exhibitions at Leicester Museum & Art Gallery and Soft Touch Arts.
Highlights include a collection of original Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren Punk era clothing, as well as a mural by leading Punk artist Jamie Reid. Their interviews will be saved in an archive in partnership with the University of Leicester to be used by future generations.
Young people involved with Soft Touch Arts are at the heart of the curation team, working alongside project leaders to learn about the Punk youth subculture and share their ideas, to help shape the design for the exhibition. Soft Touch Arts also offered three paid curation and film production internships for young people and collaborated with Leicester University and De Montfort University to offer a range of student placements and volunteering opportunities.
Shane Coffey, one of the young curators involved in the project, said: “I have always been inspired by Punk as a genre, so it was amazing to be a part of this project from the very beginning.”
“Social history is something that has always fascinated me, and I was surprised to discover that there are a lot of similarities between the things that I’m into and the Punk scene. Lots has changed, but speaking to people that were part of the movement in the 1970s has opened my eyes to the fact that many social and cultural issues remain the same.”
The exhibition, which ran from June to the beginning of September, aimed to create a truly intergenerational heritage learning and engagement project that would also bring economic benefit to Leicester.
Jonathan Tuchner from The National Lottery said: “Congratulations to Punk: Rage & Revolution on winning a National Lottery Award. The project has shown an incredible dedication to protecting and preserving the heritage of an important historical movement, by collecting interviews, memories and loan items from local Leicester Punks and key protagonists of the national scene.”
“It’s thanks to National Lottery players, who raise more than £30 million each week for good causes, that the work of projects like Punk: Rage & Revolution is made possible.”