Creative Festive Project 2023: Respect & Dignity Arts

20 December 2023 by Ed

We wish all our creative network, partners and collaborators all the best for the Festive Season and a Happy New Year. For this year's Festive Project, we have collaborated with Respect & Dignity Arts, a youth-led creative arts initiative that connects young people with a variety of artists to develop innovative and empowering creative content.

Creative Festive Project 2023: Respect & Dignity Arts
For this year's Festive Project, we have collaborated with Respect & Dignity Arts, an innovative youth-led creative arts platform which gives young people the opportunity to connect with professional artists and different arts forms, to develop high quality creative content that inspires, empowers and transforms.

Respect And Dignity Arts (R&D Arts), is an empowering arts platform that provides young people with dynamic and innovative creative experiences.

Having developed their poetry under the tutelage of renowned spoken word artists; Reece Irvin Williams, Nicole May, Shirley May (Young Identity) and Suhaiymah Manzoor (The Brown Hijabi), The young collective have performed at this year’s Burnley Word Festival and venues across the county.

For our Festive Project collaboration a trio of performers from the young company responded to a brief inspired by Benjamin Zephaniah who died on 7th December 2023, and in recognition of the British poets influence as well as his contribution to writing and spoken word. For the project the young writers selected the poem 'People Need People".

The film was produced by Harry Wheeler (, and shot at various locations in Clitheroe Town Centre.

People Need People is an uplifting poem about the power of people, and the importance of connecting with others. This timely poem reminds us all to be kind to one another.

Although it was written before 2020, this poem became popular during lockdown when it was featured on BBC News and broadcasts around the world.

To make life appealing

And give life some meaning,

It’s useful to have other people.

It you need a change

To whom will you turn.

If you need a lesson

From whom will you learn.

If you need to play

You’ll know why I say

People will always need people.

Extract from People Need People by Benjamin Zephaniah

The most recent film project from R & D Arts, Enough, could easily sit as a companion piece to People Need People. Enough is a thought-provoking film which explores the concept of gratitude and being enough. The film is based on a spoken word poem produced by the young R&D Creative Writers. In their writing you will find a deep rooted appreciation for things in life that are both meaningful and valuable, which are often overlooked or taken for granted. The sentiments are even more powerful at this time of the year celebrating humanity and close personal connections as an antidote to excessive consumption and indulgence.

Other projects by R&D Arts include 'Those from Distant Lands' which explores the formidable story of our ancestors;

How those from distant lands left the towns and villages that fed them, composing extraordinary stories, and defining their place in present times.

The film has been described as "one the most ground-breaking short films and poem written by young people about their ancestors. Watch Those from Distant Lands' here.

R & D Arts is led by Waqar Ahmed (Artistic Director), who also created the award-winning Beyond Labels project with support from Super Slow Way. The project at The Hollins School in Accrington where Waqar is also Specialist Leader in Cultural Education. Hollins School recently picked up the Outstanding Arts in a Secondary School Award at the 2023 Educate Awards held in Liverpool making it a hattrick of wins in successive years. Read more

Watch more poetry short films by Respect & Dignity Arts here
Follow Respect & Dignity Arts on Instagram

Benjamin Zephaniah: 1958-2023

writer, dub poet, actor, musician and professor of poetry and creative writing

Born on 15 April 1958 in Handsworth, Birmingham which he described as “a cold suburb of Kingston, Jamaica” Benjamin Obadiah Iqbal Zephaniah  began performing poetry at an early age. He was diagnosed as dyslexic, and left school aged 14.

Described as "the people's laureate" he  drew on his lived experiences of incarceration, racism and his Jamaican heritage to encourage a wide range of audiences to engage with his creative works.

His poetry often directly responded to historical and current events. His second poetry collection, The Dread Affair, was published in 1985 and featured a number of poems attacking the British legal system. In 1990, he published Rasta Time in Palestine, containing poetry and travelogue based on a visit to the Palestinian occupied territories. In 1999, he wrote What Stephen Lawrence Has Taught Us as part of the campaign to find the murderers of the 18-year-old south-east Londoner.

His work, which appeared on the national curriculum, was heavily influenced by Jamaican music and poetry, and he was often classified as a dub poet. He also released a number of albums, and was the first person to record with the Wailers after the death of Bob Marley in a tribute to Nelson Mandela. 

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