Rotherham’s town centre transformed into an urban art playground last week (February 22-24) with an array of features designed to bring out the young people of the town for a three-day interactive experience.

Art of Protest Projects teamed up with Rotherham Council and some of Team GB’s best skaters and BMXers to deliver the three-day festival UPLIFT, which saw a pop-up skate park, a massive half-pipe, live music and street art splashed on the streets of Rotherham.

As a kick-off launch event for Children’s Capital of Culture, this event was designed to connect the community of Rotherham in a way that’s never been done before. The UPLIFT festival saw a fusion of urban art colliding with Team GB’s finest athletes – Alex Hallford, Jordan Thackeray and Jack Maguire. Stepping back in time to an early 90’s grunge skate scene, the art created for UPLIFT was supported with neon geometrics, 3D lines and shapes and unique patterns giving the appearance of motion.

The art application brought the streets to life in the form of street furniture, stickers, large vinyls, floor coverings, and even a phone box takeover! This high impact and colourful backdrop elevated this visually stunning experience. They highlighted the desire of Rotherham’s young people to immerse themselves in the creative and physical outlet lacking from the area.

There were hands-on graffiti workshops delivered by Tom Jackson of highly acclaimed street artist duo Static and interactive skate and cycle workshops designed to engage and inspire. This event was a massive success and serves as a model of how areas can be encouraged to connect with art and physical activity through a curated environment.

UPLIFT saw such a wonderful and diverse group of festival-goers, and the star of the show went to Sonny, a child with double leg prosthetics who wowed the crowd with his skateboard skills and unstoppable spirit! Inspiring everyone in the area!

“It’s such a privilege to get to come out and skate with young kids and watch them become inspired and take chances. We all start somewhere and when I see some kids connect with the bike or board, it fills me full of joy because I remember being that kid and making those connections. It kept me out of trouble and gave me a pathway to do something amazing.” Pro BMXer Jack Mcquire of Team GB

“Being able to bring new, vibrant energy to Rotherham through the fusion of street art and urban skating and cycling is beyond exciting to us! Featuring Team GB’s incredibly talented crew who are hopefully making their way to the Olympics is a once in a lifetime chance and we are just so thrilled to be able to bring this to the younger generation of Rotherham.” Jeff Clark, director of Art of Protest Projects

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