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Green Light in the City

Notts to Host Festival of Skate Culture

19 July 19 words: Chris Lawton
photos: Simon Bernacki


Skateboarding will become an Olympic sport for the first time in Tokyo next summer.  Nottingham is one of the sport’s original homes in the UK, with a vibrant community and culture going back more than fifty years, including internationally known professionals such as Carl Shipman in the 1990s and now Alex Hallford, who is one of just five skaters nationwide to be supported to compete in global Olympic qualification events in the run-up to Tokyo.

Skate Nottingham, a non-profit community organisation, have won a National Lottery grant that will help fund an international ‘Skateboarding in the City’ festival this summer, to cement Nottingham’s status as a destination for the sport and wider culture of skateboarding.  This follows construction awards won for King Edward Park in Sneinton in 2017 and the new skatepark in Lady Bay, West Bridgford, shortlisted as a finalist in two categories in 2019 – adding to Nottingham’s excellent estate of public skate facilities.

Starting on Friday the 26th July with a free public exhibition of local and national skateboard photography at the Nottingham Photo Parlour, the multi-venue festival will then continue for 9 days. 

On Saturday 27th and Sunday the 28th July, there will be a largescale ‘Nottingham Open’ competition at Flo Indoor Skatepark, the city’s community-owned and run facility.  This will be free to spectators and will be in support of mental health awareness.

The Nottingham Open will include male and female events and will be delivered in partnership with FortyTwo Shop, Nottingham’s independent skate shop, and Girl Skate Gang Notts, the Instagram account supporting women and girls to engage in skateboarding.  Nottingham is leading the way in female participation, with the city’s female skate scene featured by the BBC and ID Magazine. 43% of regular skaters in the city are female, compared to just 15% nationally.

This will be followed by the ‘Radical Places’ workshop on Monday the 29th July, which will bring together community organisers, academics, teachers and regeneration professionals to share knowledge and skills for creating more inclusive, active cities that better engage young people in education, sports and creative activities.

It will feature Professor Iain Borden, Vice Dean of Education at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London, and author of ‘Skateboarding and the City: A Complete History’, and Mikko Kyrönviita, coordinator of the Dwellers in Agile Cities Project at Tampere University, Finland.  Iain and Mikko will then deliver a free public talk and Q&A at Broadway Cinema from 5pm to 7pm.

From Tuesday 30th of July until Thursday the 1st of August, local skaters and visitors will work on making short films, skating movable obstacles and sculptural forms installed in ‘unloved’ spaces in the city.  This builds on Skate Nottingham and the Creative Quarter’s ‘Unlock the Pit’ project in the underused space beneath the NCP carpark at the foot of Maid Marion Way, in which more than 50 young people and adults made the usually unwelcoming space lively and active for the afternoon of May 26th, which you can read about here.  On Friday the 2nd of August, there will be a special screening of the Sundance Award-winning and Oscar-nominated documentary Minding the Gap at Broadway Cinema. 

The festival will close on Saturday 3rd of August, with all of the participants’ films being screened at Broadway Cinema.  The group of young people behind the winning film will be funded to travel to Malmö in Southern Sweden later in August to represent Nottingham in the Skate Malmö Street 2019 competition.

There will be many more events scheduled between the 26th July and 3rd of August, with most being free-of-charge and accessible to all-ages, including children and families.  There will also be a social programme for over 18s, which will build on the skate community’s already close links with Nottingham’s music and alternative arts scenes.

To find out how to get involved, as a spectator or to give skateboarding a go, follow Skate Nottingham on Instagram,Twitter or Facebook.

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