Wow! We can’t quite believe it! A successful application to Arts Council England (ACE) for Creative People and Places funding means we can now start work on an ambitious three-year Action Research Programme. Our vision is to truly bring the arts and the benefits of arts participation to people in the borough.
Nationally, only seven areas received an award from ACE. Doncaster is the only area in Yorkshire to be successful. darts (Doncaster Community Arts) led the bidding process on behalf of a consortium with Cast, Doncaster Council and Doncaster Voluntary Arts Network (DVAN).
An in-depth consultation process with community members, artists and service providers sparked a wealth of enticing ideas rooted in communities and aimed at raising engagement levels of Doncaster residents in arts activity. These ideas formed the basis of the successful application.
The programme called ‘Right Up Our Street’ starts with the development of Arts Bases in five communities:
- Balby: The Library.
- Mexborough: The Market (perhaps setting up an Arts Cafe).
- Rossington: The Holmescarr Centre.
- Bentley: Linking to the development of Bentley Park and Pavilion.
- East Doncaster: A co-operative approach in Thorne, Hatfield and Stainforth (perhaps using the concept of pop up shops or a mobile arts facility).
These Arts Bases will build an infrastructure for exploring and experimenting with a range of exciting arts activities. Ongoing development and commissioning of arts activity will be led by community champions, supported by professional artists.
The five community Arts Bases will link to a central professional Arts Base made up of a partnership of current arts providers including darts at The Point, the new performance venue and the Museum and Art Gallery.
Arts activities will be woven into the rhythms of weekly routines from the intimate and every day, to spectacular once in a lifetime events. What is learnt through the initial activity will be extended to other communities and eventually we will join up our own communities of creative people and artists to develop our own “arts scene” and develop Doncaster as a culturally significant borough with masses of arts on offer.
News of the successful bid has been well received. Elaine Hirst, Co-Director, darts (Doncaster Community Arts) said:
'Wow! We can’t quite believe it... We are over the moon at having the opportunity and resources to demonstrate our belief that Doncaster folk WILL participate in creative activity, with spectacle and celebration, if they have some say in deciding, designing and developing those things themselves – and if those activities are relevant and accessible to them.
We saw, for example, with the passage of the Olympic torch through Doncaster and with the attendance at the exhibition The Elephant in the Room about Doncaster’s unique Sand House at The Point that people love to participate in special things that shout out to them about their lives here and what Doncaster can offer.'
'It is important to remember that Creative People and Places is NOT simply a series of projects. It is a slow thoughtful research process where we all in Doncaster – individuals, communities, artists and arts organizations - get together to explore exactly what art is Right up Our Street – to learn what gets people interested and excited and then keeps them interested and excited. We have now got the chance to make arts activity an integral and valuable part of people’s lives in Doncaster and to define our own unique culture.
Kully Thiarai, Executive Director of Doncaster’s New Performance Venue said:
'This is fantastic news for Doncaster and enables us all to work in partnership to enhance the creative and cultural offer with the communities of Doncaster. It is a unique opportunity for the new performance venue, due to open next year, to actively develop and engage with artists and audiences over a sustained period of time.'
Michael Hart, Chief Executive of Doncaster Culture and Leisure Trust said:
“This is fantastic news for Doncaster and shows what we can achieve through partnership working. This is a great opportunity for the borough and will be a superb precursor to the creative activities and events that are going to happen at the new performance venue.”
Rachel Horne, Artist, Doncaster New Fringe said:
“Creative People and Places is just what the doctor ordered for my home town of Doncaster. Although we might not necessarily admit it we are very creative folk in lots of meaningful ways. Right Up Our Street will harness the talent in our hardworking town, making the arts more conscious, visible and celebrated.”
Peter Davies, Mayor of Doncaster, said:
“This is excellent news for Doncaster. The funding will help engage local communities to develop a wide ranging programme of arts, entertainment and events that ensure there is something for everyone to enjoy. These are exciting times for the arts, with Doncaster’s new performance venue really taking shape and this announcement can only help increase participation in arts and culture across the borough.”