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Cambridge City Council

Cambridge Playlaws public art project kicks off

31 March 2023

A new public art project to create ‘Playlaws’ for Cambridge – commissioned by Cambridge City Council working in partnership with Cambridge Junction – has commenced with a series of workshops for local schools.

The commission brings together social enterprise, Playful Anywhere, and artist, Pippa Hale, with local children and adults of all ages, to co-create the Cambridge Playlaws. The Playlaws will be publicly displayed as plaques to prompt play that can be enacted alone, or with others, and provide moments of reflection, fun and joy.

The Cambridge Playlaws will be co-created with local people through school workshops, outdoor community events and the recruitment of residents as volunteer Play Agents. Play Agents are local people, of all ages, who are open-minded, curious, responsive, imaginative and like to play; and who will complete a series of ‘play’ challenges. The Playlaws project team aims to recruit a dedicated network of Play Agents from across the city, whose involvement will help inspire people to be more playful going forward.

Ideas for the Cambridge Playlaws project

 Photo credits: Pippa Hale (left), Claire Haigh (right)

The results of the community engagement activities will be captured on a digital map on a dedicated website which goes live in April, and used in the co-creation of the set of Cambridge Playlaws. Once created, the Playlaws will be displayed as aluminium plaques in public places within a 1-kilometre circular zone around Warren Close, Petersfield.

Playlaws project workshops have already taken place with two primary schools – Morley Memorial and Ridgeway – inviting the play experts (children) to help devise playful challenges, letting their imaginations run wild and putting fun at the heart of the project.

Ideas for the Cambridge Playlaws project

Photo credits: Pippa Hale

Jane Wilson, Cambridge City Council’s Director of Neighbourhoods and Communities, said: “We saw at the Cambridge Arts Network conference last month how enthusiastic people are about promoting and celebrating creativity and culture – and how they are more than just ‘nice to have’ – for our wellbeing, and for the local economy. At a time of great uncertainty and anxiety in the world, widening access to playful, cultural activities in this way is really important. The team is creating opportunities for people to have fun as part of the process of creating the Playlaws, and by creating permanent prompts that can help us to stop, look up and enjoy being in the moment.

“That could be by playing with your child, taking part in a play ‘challenge’ on your way to or from work, or joining in a team game with friends in one of our city parks. We don’t yet know what the final Playlaws will say, and we need everyone’s ideas to help create them! Please get involved to help create properly fun and inspiring Playlaws for Cambridge.”

Cambridge Playlaws artist, Pippa Hale, said: “We’re delighted to be working with the Cambridge community to create a playful piece of public art for the enjoyment of all residents, whatever their age. The city boasts a rich and varied range of commissioned public art and we are honoured to be making a contribution to it. We hope the Cambridge Playlaws will encourage the city’s citizens to reconnect with their playful selves and to see their city afresh.”

Emma Bearman, Director of Playful Anywhere, said: “We know that places in the hearts of our cities can be less than playful by design, and as we rush about our busy adult lives, glued to phones, we don't always experience the city with child-like curiosity and wonder. But play is such an important part of life – for children and adults alike. With the Cambridge Playlaws project we want to use public art as a way to inspire people to take a break, to revive their playful attitudes, and to reclaim that sense of joy that’s important for our wellbeing.”

Matt Burman, Chief Executive Officer, Cambridge Junction, said: “Cambridge Junction is delighted to be playing out with Pippa Hale, Emma Bearman, Playful Anywhere and Cambridge City Council, to meet people in our local neighbourhoods and to imagine with them and with hope new playlaws for the city. This project has the wonderful potential to mischievously, cheekily change the ways we all engage with public space and I hope bring smiles and laughter to the bellies and faces of Cambridge people and anyone spending time in the city.”

The funding for this project comes from a Section 106 developer agreement, which requires the funding to be spent on a public art project, within a 1-kilometre circular zone around Warren Close, in Petersfield ward.

Find out more or get involved.