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Behind the scenes

From street art to skateboarding, hip-hop to hidden history – meet the real Southampton

Inside this week’s Big Issue is a free magazine celebrating Southampton’s youth culture. Here’s what’s in it…

This week’s edition of The Big Issue includes a free 24-page magazine celebrating the vibrant and diverse culture in Southampton, which has just been announced as one of the final eight contenders in the UK City of Culture 2025 bid process.

Created in partnership with GO! Southampton, and packed with voices from the city talking about its famed street art, music and skate culture, 125,000 copies of the free publication were dropped through letterboxes in Southampton in September.

This all coincided with the new Re:Claim Street Festival, which took over the streets of Southampton on 25 September in a celebration of this exciting side of the city’s cultural communities.

Now the mini-magazine is publishing UK-wide with all editions of The Big Issue, so the rest of the country can find out more about the energy and diversity that’s making Southampton really stand out as a beacon of optimism and positivity in 2021 and beyond.

The magazine includes an interview with Claire Whitaker OBE, Bid Director for the SO25 UK City of Culture campaign, in which she points out that – while she’s confident of the strength of Southampton’s bid – the process itself is already having positive impacts on the city: “Culture is about telling Southampton’s story to the people of Southampton, the people of the UK and the rest of the world.”

There’s an interview with hip-hop stars and Re:Claim Street Festival headliners FooR, whose music has found international recognition recently being used in beer ads and inspiring an Instagram workout by Tyson Fury.

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Band leader Gavin Foord explains why they have been instrumental in giving a hand up to many artists in Southampton across the city’s diverse music scene through their own record label, gigs and compilations. “We always said if we ever got to a point where we could help people, we would. It’s all about giving artists opportunities we never had,” he says.

We also have a photo special and op-ed from Steve Bega of Skate Southampton, who explains how the underground skate culture is playing a part in making the city centre a better, more accessible and life-filled place for everyone to spend time.Plus, ass well as the famous Guildhall Square skating spot, the sport is even being welcomed into eminent art spaces like the John Hansard Gallery.

Street art has also featured strongly in Southampton’s cultural spaces – and was a major element in the brand new free city-centre event Re:Claim Street Festival, which was hugely successful in drawing crowds to the city from as far afield as Newcastle in September. A review of the Festival itself, written by a young local journalist, can also be found in this special publication.

We speak to some of the best-known street artists in the city and beyond about how public art can transform shared spaces, and why street art is a voice that must be heard.

The magazine also includes an exclusive walking guide and map to help people get out and discover Southampton’s lesser-known, must-visit hidden cultural gems, while the young people of the cityshare in their own words what makes it an exciting place to live, study and work. Great parks, excellent theatre, a wealth of history and vibrant live music are just a few of the things that make the city great for young people. We also have an investigation into how its live cultural scene is bouncing back now that the world is opening up again post-Covid, from live music to theatre and nightclubs.

We also highlight how Saints Foundation – which has worked with The Big Issue for many years  – is celebrating its 20th anniversary, andthere are great discounts and offers on eating out and shopping in the mag, available through the SO Card.

The magazine – which also marks Black History Month – is on sale across the UK from Big Issue vendors now, or if you can’t find your local vendor, it’s possible to buy online, and in supermarkets including The Co-Op. Copies are also available from The Big Issue Shop.

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