Redruth Library Transformation
A partnership between Cornish organisations RIFT, Writers’ Block and Pendynas came together with one mission: save the library. Fill it with stories again. Fill it with people and opportunities for the community of Redruth.
At the beginning of the pandemic Redruth Library, an imposing granite building in the centre of the town, closed its doors for the last time. Hoardings went up. Kids threw stones at where they were once read bedtime stories. The roof caved into the space where Cornwall’s historic archives were stored, plaster and mould splattered over a bust of Cornwall’s most famous philanthropist Passmore Edwards.
A partnership between Cornish organisations RIFT, Writers’ Block and Pendynas came together with one mission: save the library. Fill it with stories again. Fill it with people and opportunities for the community of Redruth. Over a year plans were made. Large pieces of paper filled with ideas and collaborations. We took to the streets of Redruth to hear people’s stories of the library and how they would like to see it used. Cornwall Council became a partner. We were joined by other charities who shared our mission.
This month we walked into the library for the first time together. Stripped it’s walls and uncovered children’s drawings and artefacts from it’s 125 year history. Together we will transform this space into a building which houses stories again. We are theatre-makers, writers, performers, educators, listeners and activists. We will transform the old children’s library into a space for discovery, an immersive installation for children to climb through and experience wonder, come through the other side armed with their own story to write down.
Upstairs we will build a state of the art rehearsal space, ready to welcome international companies to build performances. Outside in what was previously the car park we have installed a carpenter and a vegan cafe, ready to evolve into a makers market selling artisan gifts and giving a public presence to the craftspeople that make up so much of Cornwall’s art scene.
All of these activities will reach a high point every two years when together the carpenters, the children, the facilitators and the shopkeepers will come together for a festival. Centred around the residencies that take place in the turret of the building. This festival is for all of Cornwall. The Redruth International Festival of Theatre. A coming together of the whole building. Bright lights. Colourful costumes. Parading down Fore Street. The collaborations between Mexican video artists and teenager rappers from Carn Brea; Palestinian clowns and lithium miners resounding through every valley.