Based in Mossley, a town and civil parish in Tameside, Greater Manchester, Patel wanted to provide meaningful and varied cultural engagement for the local area. “We wanted to develop the cultural sector in Tameside,” he says. “To act as a catalyst to develop culture locally – and to give as many people an opportunity to take part in a creative activity as possible.” This has been done through a vast array of artistic activities over the last nearly 20 years, spanning workshops, courses, classes, festivals, youth programs, advocacy and consultancy.
The core team that makes up Global Grooves stems from community members who got involved locally and decided to take things further. “Global Grooves feels like a family,” says Patel. “Because nearly everybody that’s involved as an artist, project manager or professional, has also been involved in some way as a volunteer, course participant or as a trainee on a project.” This means that the opportunity for growth is baked in from the earliest point of access. “Everything we do has some sort of development strand within it,” says Patel. “That ethos of carnival and sharing is embedded in all the work we create.”
Not only does Global Grooves create culture and art for the local community, from drumming academies to workshops in schools, but its physical location has become a key community hub. Based in The Vale, an old converted mill, since 2012, it was here they opened up a mixed-use studio that also doubled up as a space for artists for rehearse and community gigs and events. After a devastating fire in 2018 they were awarded funding to take the venue to the next level – including making it fully accessible – and develop it into a state-of-the-art performance space called the Northern Carnival Centre of Excellence.
The venue is also a shared space for other community groups to use and connect together. “It’s really nice to see because quite a few of the groups that are now self-sustaining community projects have been born from projects that we’ve run,” Patel says. “We’ve got a youth music group that rehearses here that we originally set up in response to helping support the brass band sector. That is now The Incredible Plastic Street Band and they are very, very active in the community around music making but also with a focus on environmental issues.”
For Patel, Global Grooves has such a closely-knit working relationship with the community it serves because they are one and the same. “An important thing is that nearly everybody involved in the leadership and direction of Global Grooves is from the local area,” he says. “So there’s a really good connection and understanding between the people that run the organisation and the service users that enjoy what we do. I think that’s crucial. Rather than an organisation flying into an area, doing some culture and flying out again, we are, by our very nature, embedded within the community.”