The presentation given by Mandeep Samra at the Reggae Research Network Symposium in Norwich focused on the Sound System Culture project which celebrates reggae sound system culture as an innovative artform. Developed by Let’s Go Yorkshire, the project started in 2013 in Huddersfield and captured the stories of the Caribbean community’s past and brought them to life through a collection of oral histories, exhibition, book, film, interactive sound installation and the production of specially commissioned dubplates that visitors could play on the installation, facilitating an immersive experience which forms an intrinsic part of the reggae sound system tradition.
The exhibition was immensely popular and the project was highly praised, encouraging the organisation to expand the project into a national tour in 2014-16 to document Bristol, Birmingham and London’s vibrant reggae sound system heritage. Venues supporting the tour included Colston Hall in Bristol, The Drum in Birmingham and The Tabernacle in London. These large, well established venues allowed us to engage diverse audiences with this important and largely undocumented social history.
The national project included 3 new culturally valuable exhibitions and the production of a children’s book, The Sonar System, introducing children to the world of sound system culture. The book was described by i-D magazine as “arguably the world’s best kid’s book” and supports the national #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign aimed at promoting greater cultural diversity amongst children’s literature.