WE ARE HERE: Oastler Market, Bradford

Sara Gonzàlez

On Saturday 28th of April 2018 several members of our research team visited Oastler Market in Bradford to join in a brilliant event put on by the grassroots artist collective Wur Bradford under the name “WE ARE HERE”. This project is a collaboration between Bradford Markets, artists and traders to reflect on the value that this market has for the diverse communities that use it.

The event involved a theatre piece by Kirsty Taylor, where artists and market traders themselves performed and the audience walked around the market aisles. It was a busy Saturday afternoon with many families having lunch at the market and people doing their shopping and it was interesting to see how the play merged and mixed with the everyday life-rhythms of the market. Several stalls had been taken over by the WE ARE HERE project to show old photos of the market or posters with photos and testimonies of the traders.

A theme running through the event was how important the market is as a meeting place to socialise and access affordable products. There was also a sense of uncertainty, as the current plans are for this market to close down and for traders to be moved elsewhere. Several retail changes in the city centre, such as the closure of a Morrisons supermarket that used to be near the market and the consolidation of a big Westgate shopping centre, have made the council reconsider the future of this market. The plans are, in line with national and international trends, to move to a more specialist food offer, but many traders are uncertain about their future. In addition to this event (which had also been held the previous Saturday), Wur Bradford are running an exhibition at Kala Sangam Arts Centre until 28th June.

A highlight of the afternoon was a performance by 16-year-old Haris Ahmed, who has grown up in the market. Haris kindly sent us his three pieces which are available to read on our website. His work touches on so many of the issues that our project is trying to highlight and make more visible.