What we do

Since opening in 2004, we have created socially engaged projects and programmes, from our base in Birmingham. We take pride in our approach of making work that creates a difference to people at our home at The Edge in Deritend/Highgate, in our city, our region and across the world.

We believe that the arts and creative projects provide a safe space for people, young and old, to explore the world, and their place in it.  Through art we can find ways to express ourselves that ma be otherwise difficult and we also believe that its a place for people to find ways to improve their wellbeing.

We also acknowledge that the creative industries are an important part of the new economy and we can use the arts to help people who are historically excluded find their place within it. Many of the young people we’ve worked with on our projects, and in our Art Club have gone on to build careers in game development, fashion, graphic design and architecture, to name but a few.

Friction is an Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisation. It also receives funding from arts funders, local authorities and the public sector, the private sector, the National Lottery and from trusts and charities. We take creative approaches to make projects that help people develop their selves, their lives and their careers. Friction was formed as a non-profit organisation with the aim of ‘creating a world where creativity and equality are flourishing’.

Our philosophy

We do not work in one area, nor do we take one approach. We think of ourselves as responsive to the people who we work with, the project, and need. How do we do it? We rely on our tried and tested process based on four questions. This is our philosophy:

    • Who am I? Why am I making this project? What’s the interest, the driver behind it

    • Who are we together? How do our (partners, other artists, stakeholders, participants) agendas coincide?

    • What are we going to do? What do we want the outcome to be, what do we want the result of our cooperation to be?

    • How are we going to do it? This is the point at which we choose the approach we are taking, and it really could be anything – if we don’t have the skills in-house we will find skilled people we can work with.

No two Friction projects are the same. Our work is bespoke to ensure that it is always relevant to this place, these people, and at this time.

Our History

Friction grew out of Funding Pending Live Arts, which was founded by our current creative directors Lee Griffiths and Sandra Hall in 1992. Beginning with running multi-artform events to performing abstract live art performances to huge audiences at festivals and raves, our work increasingly led to us making projects connecting with communities and communities of interest for the purposes of cultural and social change.

For 30 years, Friction has produced an ambitious programme of creative work, often in partnership or collaboration with artists from all kinds of disciplines; currently it includes Birmingham’s only free visual art club for young people delivered by professional artists, a ground-breaking multicultural music programme in schools and community settings, our Culture Club for young people, A Word From the Wise – our programme celebrating the work of elders and older artists, currently through our ‘Home’ project, Walking Over Coals, our artist development programme for emerging, emerged and submerging artists and an ever-evolving series of site-specific performances and interventions in a variety of settings like our between-lockdown show ‘Quiet Carnival’.

Our Home

We moved to The Edge in 2007. It was originally a boiled sweet warehouse, but it now enables creative minds to produce visual art, performance, music, wellbeing activities and developmental programmes.

The Edge isn’t a white box arts space, its bare brick walls and objects collected from decades of work remind us that we straddle the arts world and the wider community. We’ve taken the opportunity of lockdown to make improvements to the building, including installing new entrances, new double-glazing throughout the building, a new roof and lots of other improvements to make it an even more cosy space to be in.

In 2023 we’ll be beginning a huge new refurbishment, to make the space even more accessible and comfortable, to expand our offer to many more young people and others.

We hire out The Edge as a rehearsal space, for meetings, workshops and for performances. . If you would like to hire The Edge, email us at info@frictionarts.com and see it’s own page on this website for more info.

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