Early this year we brought you The Gift, a brand new poem written by Gabriella Gay especially for Stoke-on-Trent and a gift to our audiences. Commissioned by Appetite and supported by Stoke-on-Trent BID and Stoke-on-Trent City Councilthe poignant line from the poem, ‘Roar Open With Hope’, now lights up the night sky in Stoke-on-Trent City Centre (Hanley) as a bold and bright neon installation located on the roof of the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery

The last year has been difficult for people across the country including in Stoke-on-Trent. As we move out of the worst of the crisis and look to the future we issue this rousing message of hope to lift spirits and encourage people to look to the future with optimism.

We hope the neon sign will raise the hopes of residents in the City Centre throughout the year. Share your thoughts on The Gift and our neon using the hashtag #RoarOpen on social media.

Listen to the poem below, read by its writer Gabriella Gay. 


Image by Natalie Willatt




About the artist

Image: Jenny Harper



Gabriella Gay is a trained teacher, vintage dealer, page-stage poet and creative producer; she is regularly commissioned to perform, write, organise events and facilitate workshops for organisations such as Stoke Pride, The NHS, The Mitchell Arts Centre, Appetite, Junction 15, BBC Radio, Stoke Libraries, Partners in Creative Learning. She was born in Trinidad, raised in London, but has lived in Staffordshire for over 10 years. She is founder of Stoke’s Roaming Poets and Kwanzaa Collective UK. She was the local writer in residence for Nationwide Voices (2017) and was shortlisted to be the first poet laureate of Stoke-on-Trent (2018). Gabriella has made numerus TV and radio appearances and her work features in shows, exhibitions, advertisements and official videos.

Gabriella has a track record of community engagement and long-standing affiliations with a wide range of key stake holders in Staffordshire. She is a trustee of The New Vic Theatre and the cultural Champion for Newcastle-under-Lyme (2020). She is an associate artist at Restoke, an arts organisation that co-creates performances and programmes in unexpected spaces in the community. A strong believer in the power of the spoken word she is inspired by theatre, art, photography, people and the city in which she has adopted as her home. Gabriella explored her interest in working in unusual spaces in her recent TEDx talk (2020) at Keele University. In 2019, Gabriella became the Writer in Residency of Hanley Car Boot Sale for six weeks.

Underlying all of Gabriella’s written, performed and socially engaged work, is the power of building strong connections and community. As a creative producer, she is well know for creating collaborative work for herself and other artists.


Featured image by Natalie Willatt

Appetite is funded through National Lottery by Arts Council England-funded Creative People and Places programme, led by New Vic Theatre in partnership with Partners in Creative Learning, 6Towns Radio, Staffordshire University, Newcastle BID (Business Improvement District), Keele University and Go Kidsgrove. Appetite is supported by Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Newcastle Borough Council, Staffordshire County Council and Aspire. 

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