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Looking Back at 30 Years

The Creative and Cultural Organisation’s Alan Raw (CEO & Curator), Flow Collingwood (Trustee) and Chris McKnight (Graffiti Artist) have been facilitating creative community opportunities together in Hull for 30 years.

Here are just some of the exhibitions, projects, events & workshops you may remember and a little bit of how it all came together.

Curator Alan facilitating lantern-making 1993

Rock Against Racism

Let’s start in 90-91 when Alan worked with local bands and Amnesty International’s Martin Foreman to bring back Rock against Racism to Hull. The events were held at the Tower and Hull University Union Bar. Alan drummed in a few of the bands, so soon got a crew together to run the events from band members and friends. Many years later in 2015, print artist Richard Lees joined the Creative & Cultural Board, Richard created the posters for the original Rock Against Racism movement and has published a book of those fabulous posters.

True Colour Arts

Through these gigs Alan met a Youth Worker called Bo Deyal and a young Graffiti Artist he was working with called Chris McKnight (Dhers). Alan completed his Youth Arts Training whilst working with them both at Amy Johnson Youth Centre as the Arts Worker. By the time he was qualified, he was already worker in charge of the centre and they further developed the arts offer together. Alan was living in the infamous communal living space of 18 Hutt Street with excellent Comic Artist & Musician Simon Crook, who trained with him at West Yorkshire Youth Arts Association and he completed the team to start delivering a variety of creative workshops. In 93 Alan, Chris and Simon started what’s now known as a social enterprise. Then delivered workshops as Dr Charisma’s Music Workshop & Graffiti Art events as True Colour Arts. Eventually just using the TCA name for everything. TCA did loads of workshops all over the region with lots of groups.

In March 94 TCA worked with Deborah Clarke, Liz Woolmington and Ruth Drake on the excellent HU1 Arts & Culture Day in Princes Quay Shopping Centre. Then again in October on Humberside Youth Arts Festival, which transformed Amy Johnson Youth Centre into AVIATOR, redesigned by the members. This made it the perfect venue for the TCA’s to stage COMSEM94 Illustrative Arts Festival, supported by Marvel Comics, Fleetway & Deadline.

Creative Arts Union - CAU

By the 1995 Youth Arts Festival we had done loads of workshops, diversified into all sorts of arts and acquired some extra members on the team, as Alan was now at Humberside Uni doing Community & Youth Work. We were also faced with the problem of artists getting paid for the work they all did. So we decided to change the name of the organisation to the Creative Arts Union and actively support artists' rights to fair pay. We also started Prime Promotions as a booking agency. We took on various parts of the 1995 Hull Youth Arts Festival and co-organised the FFF Festival Final Fling at Kingston Youth Centre, where Alan was the new Arts Worker.

Vapour Graffiti Festival

Also in 95 Chris’s enthusiasm for Graffiti Art and Alan’s involvement in HIP HOP as a drummer and DJ, gave them the motivation and contacts to pull in the great and the good for a festival of their own. They chose Kingston as Alan worked there, the walls were not bad and it’s city center location was perfect. Liz Woolmington was running KYC and shared the enthusiasm. So Vapour Festival was born. The show attracted some great artists, dancers, bands and photographers, many of which have gone on to have amazing careers. Flow Collingwood (King Flowrex), Si2, Paris, Redeye Feenix, Xenz, Pinky, Remi/Rough, Mac1, Pryme, Rota1, MrZee and many more. Vapour became one of the UK’s premier Graffiti festivals and ran for 10 years 1995 to 2005 with Chris leading the team. Have a look through this gallery, just click on an image to see the full picture and scroll through…

IMPRO Festival

In 1997 the Council's Young KUH programme asked Alan and CAU to organise a musical arts festival and music industry conference in the city centre. This was the start of IMPRO Festival (Improving Opportunities in Music) The 97 & 98 IMPRO’s were held at KYC by the team and proved very successful.

Hull700 included Vapour700, where Alan & Chris did a Graffiti display for the Queen & with support from visiting Belgian Artists, we raised one million Belgian Franks to help rebuild Kosovo.

In late 1999 Alan took on the roll of Music Worker at the Warren and IMPRO moved too. The combined elements of our CAU team, the Warren team (including arts heroes Darren Squires & Chris Smith) and Lou’s crew with Richard Duffy-Howard made IMPRO 2000 a major event over 3 days and nights in Hull City Hall & Victoria Square. Scroll through gallery here…

1999 Hull700 Celebrations

Lou Duffy Howard was friends with Alan through the music scene and in 1999 Lou became the Hull700 Celebrations Manager and worked with dozens of community groups to celebrate with over 200 events including 700 Ideas young people’s project which culminated in the young people’s charter and Our City Our Lives annual conference run by and attended by hundreds of young people. John Peel came to the party and Alan and Lou got to show him round the city for his TV show.

Tall Orders Arts & Media

In 2000 we decided to add circus skills to the workshops and events, by the end of the year we had a precession team to do stilt walking precessions with Alan doing fire breathing and juggling on stilts to crowds at festivals. So we renamed Prime Artist Agency and CAU to form Tall Orders Arts & Media, the multi-talented vegetarian chef, musician and media producer Darren Squires joined in and delivered workshops and managed projects for Tall Orders, whilst freelancing and teaching for Hull College and Hull schools. Tall Orders was developing in 4 directions;

  • Carnival Arts with processions and street circus, in partnership with The Grinigogs (Quentin Budworth & Amanda Lowe)

  • Graffiti Festivals, Creative Industries Training, Community Projects & Workshops.

  • Media with video/radio production and Camera Skills. Including OCN courses for BBC Learn Xpress, & BBC CITZN H (Alan made 80 Short Films for BBCi), Production & Location Management for BBC2 My Life As A Child, and made Music Videos that are still showing on MTV.

  • Music Work, World Music Stages fair Trade Drums, Music Industry Conferences, and Music festivals.

Artspromoters & Rawelements

Alan started to manage his BBC commitments and music industry conference work, He also started Rawelements ltd with Sara Elvin Rawe. Then Tall Orders focussed on Carnival Arts and Teaching arts & media skills to the community.

Rawelements opened a fair trade shop in Hepworths Arcade managed by Sara Elvin-Rawe with regular showcases of crafts by local artisans and put on world music events with partners including Albemarle Music Service. Rawelements supplied Albermarle & Scrapstore with fare trade African Drums and Alan delivered their Soundbeam training service. Simon, Lou, Alan, and Chris Maynard trained on the Gamelan at Manchester Camerata and brought the Javanese gamelan to Hull from Indonesia called The Honorific Sea Dragon or Kyai Sri Jaladri Naga. We delivered lots of workshops and trained groups to use it. Lou composed and recorded The Gamelan Night Heron by Rich & Lou’s Loudhailer with Alan on percussion. The Gamelan is still used in Albemarle Music Centre.

Beverley Folk Festival

Alan was one of the founders of Beverley Folk Festival and played at the first 3 years with his father's band. Then he worked on the festival every year for 32 years. Darren & Alan have both been Directors of the festival. Over the years Tall Orders ran children’s workshops and a procession. Alan trained all of the stewards. Creative Projects recorded the event for Festival TV, provided Press Liaison and Chris & Alan ran the silent disco.

Hulloween Pumpkin Parades

2002 & 2003 Tall Orders took the lead and we all worked together on Hullaween, commissioned by John Pywell through the Trinity Quarter Consortium which Rawelements was part of. Lou provided workshop space in the Learning Shop in Princes Quay.

Hundreds of children made procession characters, costumes, lanterns & masks. 3000 people turned out to join the procession with Darren’s school groups of Drummers, The Grinigogs & 7 Tall Orders stilt walkers. processing to see the Tall Orders fire circus show in Trinity Square. In 2004 Hull City Council Events took over the event.


In 2014 Alan started training as a sustainability practitioner and learned how to integrate this learning into festivals inspired by his work with the team at WOMAD. Alan started training the Green Team at Beverley Festival with support from the TallOrders team.

In the same year, we all decided to once again respond to the different needs of our developing community and pull all of the self-directed projects back together as Creative and Cultural. C&C then wrote the environmental policy and coordinated sustainability with Alan running the Green Team for the next couple of years. We also delivered sustainability training for many other festivals, funded by Awards For All. Alan joined the ASP Association of Sustainability Practitioners who still support all of our work.

Creative & Cultural Gateway

Alan & Darren started developing our partnership work in Holland & Belgium, into a multi-agency project, managed by C&C and guided by the Creative & Cultural Gateway Steering Group. Benefiting numerous artists' galleries and organisations in Hull. With the wonderful Rotterdam Arts Week team.

Where are we now?

Chris McKnight was the first Artist to exhibit in our POP (Pride Of Place) Gallery and designed the logos for Creative & Cultural, POP, and HIP–Hull International Photography Gallery & HIP Fest 2015. He is currently working on our Vapour retrospective with Flow to open in February 2023 for our 30th anniversary of graffiti work.


Darren is still running Creative Projects and is working with Hull Food Partnership

Lou was the Creative and Cultural Organisation Chair for 3 years and now plays in Loudhailer Electric Company and runs Loudhailer Acoustic with Rich in Cottingham. Lou also plays bass in Celtarabia with Quentin & Amanda and Agent Starling.


Alan is CEO & Curator of The Creative & Cultural Organisation, he also presents and produces his sustainability show BBC Ecotime & his new music show BBC Introducing on BBC Radio Humberside. Alan is most often found digging holes to plant things in our permaculture project space or making something out of found materials to go in the spaces.

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