People’s Palace Projects was set up in 1996 when Paul Heritage came to Queen Mary, University of London to establish a new Drama Department. Having previously founded the Theatre in Prison and Probation (TiPP) Centre at Manchester University with colleague James Thompson, Paul set out to create an independent arts charity based in East London.
Interested in exploring the ways in which the arts can respond to urgent social crises, Paul’s vision for People’s Palace Projects was supported by QMUL and the organisation was incorporated as a charity in 1998. Since 2007, it has been a full charitable subsidiary of the University.
People’s Palace Projects has had an international focus from its inception, with our first project journeying to Burkina Faso, West Africa. The project addressed issues that affected Burkina Faso’s rural communities, particularly in regards to AIDS/HIV education. By working with a local partner, we trained practitioners and created a tour of forum-based performances. This initial project marked the beginning of the process that still forms the basis of PPP’s work, both in the UK and beyond.
Twenty years on…
People’s Palace Projects has spent the last twenty years creating and debating art that makes a difference to people’s lives. From London to Brazil, Liverpool to Azerbaijan, our creative projects and cultural exchange programmes have sought out contexts where art matters most and worked with those for whom art makes a difference in their lives.
For over a decade, we worked in the Brazilian prison system, seeing prison guards become human rights advocates, ex-prisoners become actors, and a studio theatre built in a Federal prison complex in Brasília. We have created projects that have had a real and measurable impact on people’s lives, including the negotiation of ceasefires between rival drug gangs in Rio de Janeiro and the improvement of degraded environments in the communities of Acre, Brazil.
People’s Palace Projects’ work has received recognition from a number of awarding boards. In 2010, we became the first and only UK arts organisation to become one of the Brazilian Ministry of Culture’s International ‘Pontos de Cultura’ (Points of Culture). Our artistic director, Paul Heritage has been knighted by the Brazilian government for his contribution to UK-Brazilian cooperation. In 2004, Paul received the British Council’s 70th Anniversary Award and Premio ORILAXE award for Human Rights in 2005 for his work with PPP projects.
For more information on our past and current projects, click here.