Exciting plans have been revealed for a week-long festival in June that will celebrate Kirklees’ textile heritage and look ahead to the industry’s digital future.

Held at the Textile Centre of Excellence (TCoE) and hosted by Kirklees Council’s Creative Economy Team and HATCH, an event on 18 April officially launched WOVEN, the inaugural celebration of the globally recognised textile industry in Kirklees, announcing its events programme and festival partners.

WOVEN aims to bring together the local community to take pride in its textiles heritage and celebrate its future opportunities for careers, creativity and innovation.

Taking place this June from Saturday 8 – Sunday 16, the festival’s events programme will involve cultural partners, artists, education settings, businesses, industry and heritage sites across the district.

Events taking place during the week-long celebration across the district will include The Big Knit on 8 June, where the community will be encouraged to ‘yarn bomb’ local landmarks across Kirklees. Mills will open their doors to the public alongside heritage guided walks and pop-up exhibitions will showcase local creative talent.

Businesses, families and local schools are also being encouraged to get involved in the Spectacular Innovation Showcase at the University of Huddersfield, which will include fashion shows, science workshops and arts and craft activities. Advice on careers in the textile industry will be available throughout the day through the University and the TCoE.

Speakers at the launch event, which included Cllr Turner, the Textile Centre of Excellence (TCoE), the University of Huddersfield and WOVEN curators, HATCH, highlighted how communities, businesses and the wider industry are engaging with WOVEN, science and innovation in textiles, as well as highlighting ambitions for future WOVEN festivals.

Cllr Graham Turner, Kirklees Council’s Portfolio Holder for Corporate Strategy and Culture, addressed guests at the launch event and highlighted the investment behind the festival: “Our textile heritage has played an instrumental part in the evolution of the industry for nearly 200 years and it continues to do so. Institutions such as the TCoE and the University of Huddersfield are leading the way in innovative research and the creative industries are helping shift the agenda from STEM to STEAM, incorporating the district’s creative talent and arts.

“The next generation is imperative to the longevity of our textile industry, whether it’s in manufacturing or creative arts and through WOVEN we want to engage with them. Working with local schools, colleges and the University we want to help inspire young people into a career in textiles, from fashion and manufacturing textiles to using them creatively and innovatively.”

Bill Macbeth, Managing Director of the Textile Centre of Excellence (TCoE), spoke at the launch about the TCOE’s business partnerships. He said: “The textile industry is undergoing a significant transformation as we evolve in the digital age, and with 90% of the region’s manufacturers exporting their products, they need to innovate continuously to maintain their competitive advantage.

“Many manufacturers across the region are producing groundbreaking products for major global brands and we want to shout out about that, not just locally and regionally, but also nationally and internationally.”

Focusing on science and innovation in textiles at the event, Professor Parik Goswami, Professor in Technical Textiles, from the University of Huddersfield, said: “What people don’t realise is that textiles play a big part in many sectors from arts, healthcare, science and engineering. At the University, we are working on groundbreaking projects across all our schools using textiles that will transform lives across the globe.

“WOVEN will help shout out about the industry to the next generation and highlight that textiles isn’t boring and can actually change lives.”

Susan Burns, Director of Chol Theatre, said: “Working with the WOVEN team, we’ve created an ambassador scheme, YARN (Young Ambassadors Right Now), in partnership with Kirklees Council and Ignite Yorkshire. The aim of the scheme is to empower young people between the ages of 14 – 19 to get involved in the project.

“It doesn’t matter whether they’re interested in design, art, science, engineering or events management, YARN is about being inclusive and encouraging ambassadors to connect with peers to highlight the jobs and cultural possibilities within the textile industry that WOVEN will showcase through its festivals and events.”

WOVEN is to become a biennial event in the Kirklees’ events calendar, with the next festival taking place in 2021, and will help embed activity through long term projects across the local cultural, education and industry sectors. It has been initiated by Kirklees Council, which has commissioned HATCH to collaborate with local businesses, schools, communities and artists.The festival’s new website was also unveiled at the launch event. For more information on events taking place throughout June, go to https://woveninkirklees.co.uk/.

WOVEN is looking for enthusiastic volunteers from across the district to be the face of WOVEN. They need volunteers to support the set up of events and activities, to be present at public facing events, help direct people between activities and around the district, write blogs, make vlogs, and much more. To find out how you can get involved, go to https://woveninkirklees.co.uk/get-involved/volunteering/