Baltic Street Adventure Playground is a new playground and organisation in Dalmarnock, East Glasgow, realised through an on-going collaboration with the children and families of Dalmarnock and a growing group of many others. Funded as the lead public art commission for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, the project was initiated as an immediate, practical response to the challenges facing a group of children growing up in a relatively scarce urban environment where around 54% of children live below the poverty line.
Drawing inspiration from the post-war junk playground and Lady Allen’s 1950s mantra, ‘better a broken bone than a broken spirit,’ Baltic Street is a supervised child-led space offering free open-access play, caring adults, daily campfire food and warm and waterproof clothes to children from 6 to 12 years of age. Based on the understanding that, as Hakim Bey put it, “cherishing and unleashing are the same act” Baltic Street offers space for children to grow in every and any direction they choose, embracing both creativity and destruction. Children are supported to self-organise, and play-workers maintain a secure, nurturing environment which is constantly evolving on a moment-to-moment and month-to-month basis in response to the children’s growing needs, dreams and capacity to affect change.
Baltic Street argues for the continued relevance of the adventure playground as a counterpoint to the pressures of modern urban childhood, believing they are still a refuge of a delightfully simple but powerful set of ideas about both childhood and our relationship to our immediate environment.
Baltic Street was the lead public art commission for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, funded by Velocity, commissioned by CREATE and supported by Creative Scotland, Clyde Gateway and Commonwealth Games.