Monday, February 29, 2016

News: Grimm & Co. opens a new chapter for Rotherham

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San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C, London, Dublin, Rotherham - locations for innovative literacy projects that bring truly unique retail offerings to the High Street.

Rotherham's version is Grimm & Co, a Yorkshire charity, that has today launched an Apothecary to the Magical, selling wild schemes, evil plots, charms, curses and kitchenware, including "giant belly button cleaners" for removing pesky stray chickens and "suspension of disbelief."

In each case, the shop is a fa├žade, and although they sell products, like any other, it is all part of creating a fantastical destination. Grimm & Co works around the region and aims to unlock imaginations, engage, enthuse and inspire children and young people in the literary arts. It has created a fantastical retail destination in Rotherham to inspire children to work without knowing they are working, and increase participation in literacy projects through a creative writing and mentoring centre.

Converting the former Town Gate pub on Doncaster Gate at the foot of the High Street, the centre above the shop is expecting that over 1,300 young people will be able to take part in writing classes in the first year of Grimm & Co through story making workshops, school writing programmes, after school clubs and holiday camps for 7-18 year olds.

Books, albums, films, comics and all things written will be created by young people themselves, expanding their minds while absorbing the message that writing is everywhere and it can be enjoyed by everyone.
Supporters include Arts Council England, Big Lottery – Reaching Communities, Clore Duffield Foundation and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. The project has been created with support from local businesses, including Side by Side who have gifted over £90,000 of their time to create the branding, design and keep it true to the background story. Techspray installed the twisted beanstalk slide that provides an exhilarating reward to children after a writing session; and Willmott Dixon installed the huge bookcase and secret door.

Deborah Bullivant, founder of Grimm & Co, said: "Rotherham has been through the mill in recent years in terms of perceptions, and the latest convictions for child abuse last week have made matters worse. What we aim to show is that there is much more to Rotherham, the real Rotherham that I know has amazing community spirit and some great talent. We are providing a place, which is dedicated to building aspirations, writing, creativity and inspiring the future of Yorkshire's next generation."

The idea for Grimm & Co was inspired by the Dave Eggers' 2008 TED Talk on people engaging with local schools, the work of 826 Valencia that he established in San Francisco (a Pirate Supply Store), and the Ministry of Stories in London (Hoxton St. Monster Supplies).

The story behind Grimm & Co (Graham Grimm was a Yorkshire businessman, born 1148, just before lunchtime, who spotted a gap in the market), was written by Jeremy Dyson, a non-acting member of the League of Gentleman and co-writer of the West End play, Ghost Stories.

Jeremy Dyson, writer and trustee of Grimm & Co, said: "When I was a kid growing up in Leeds, I hungered for anything that fuelled my imagination. You knew such places existed in London – but closer to home they were much rarer. Grimm and Co would have blown my young mind, and I know it can inspire and champion the creativity of every child who passes through its magical doors."

The new charity is also supported by writers and celebrities, who attended the opening of Grimm & Co, including Joanne Harris, Ian McMillan, and Paul Clayton. Sir Bob Geldof is also a patron and has written a short story, "Most of my life I've spent invisibly", as a way of demonstrating support to Grimm & Co and this will be available within the tin of "invisibility" on sale in store.

Grimm & Co website

Images: Tom Austen

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