Art to pop up in unusual spaces thanks to £68,000 grant

Arts in Unusual Spaces

Art in all its forms will be popping up in some unusual spaces across Tamworth over the next two years as part of a major project designed to create and nurture new audiences ready for the opening of the new look Tamworth Assembly Rooms.

Art in Unusual Spaces has been made possible after Tamworth Borough Council’s Arts & Events team successfully won £68,000 in funding from Arts Council England – the third significant grant to be secured by the team in recent years. Funding is being matched by Tamworth Borough Council and the local community.

The project will be made up of a wide variety of exciting and never-before-seen initiatives for Tamworth, including a striking new sculpture for the town centre, bus shelter art, street music, a big draw, a massive community mosaic, theatre in new community locations, a film depicting a day in the life of Tamworth and an original WW1 commemorative song performed by local choirs.

By taking a range of events out into the community, the project aims to provide performance and viewing opportunities for existing audiences, as well as capturing new ones by giving people the inspiration and confidence to get involved in the arts.

The hope is that by the end of the two-year initiative, Tamworth will have a large and captive audience which can then be brought back to the new-look Tamworth Assembly Rooms theatre when it reopens at the end of its major refurbishment programme.

Art in Unusual Spaces will build on last year’s successful I Am Tamworth project which set out to encourage people of all ages to get creative and participate in a range of activities across dance, drama, visual arts, music and writing.

As well as bringing some national organisations and well-known artists to the area, this will fund a number of individual projects, covering all genres of the arts.

Projects taking place over the two-year period include:

•    We Will Remember – a World War One remembrance concert to be performed in St Editha’s Church on November 12, featuring an original piece of music composed especially for Tamworth by composer Sophy Smith, who also wrote the score for last year’s outdoor community production of Tigress.
•    Art Attack – a weekend of arts events linked to the world’s biggest drawing festival, The Big Draw. This will see arts activities taking place across the borough involving local artists and members of the public. The town centre will come alive as people of all ages will be encouraged to pick up a pencil and paintbrush as part of drawing-focused activities.
•    Focus 24 – free photography workshops and activities prompting submissions to an event which will see 24 photographers taking 24 photographs in 24 hours. Photographs will be exhibited in various vacant premises throughout the town centre.
•    24 Hours in Tamworth – local residents will be asked to provide videos and social comments to create a 24-hour digital art project. Submissions will be used to make a film depicting a day in the life of Tamworth. Photographs from the Focus 24 project will also be incorporated into the film.
•    Mercian Mosaic – an ambitious challenge to create a large mosaic that covers the Lower Lawn in the Castle Grounds (an area approximately 80metres by 20metres). Residents and community groups will be asked to design individual tiles which will contribute to an overall image of Tamworth.
•    Touring Theatre – national organisation Live and Local will work with Tamworth community groups, such as Community Together (CIC), to provide volunteers with the tools needed to bring touring theatre productions to the town. The aim is for a variety of shows to be performed in unusual but familiar locations such as churches and community centres.
•    Music Outside – working with professional artists to develop the skills of gifted and talented singers, songwriters and musicians in Tamworth with the aim of creating the next generation’s music scene. It will also include an extension of the summer Bandstand Concert programme, with performances to be rolled out to other locations throughout the town centre and across the borough.

•    Catch Art – working with local groups and artists to take art into the everyday by creating artwork and murals for bus shelters throughout the town. Submissions will be invited from a mixture of age groups and work will be displayed in vinyl.
•    Roundabout Art – a project to create a permanent piece of visual art in the town centre, which will be part funded by Tamworth Borough Council’s ongoing Gateways initiative to improve the routes into Tamworth. To be situated on the roundabout outside Tamworth Railway Station, the commissioned piece will act as a signpost to the town centre while highlighting the area’s heritage and culture.
•    Creative Network – a new website for artists to highlight the creative talent on offer in Tamworth and develop links for local artists and the creative industries.

Cllr Joy Goodall, Tamworth Borough Council’s Cabinet member for Environment & Culture, said: “It is fantastic news that we have been able to secure another significant grant from Arts Council England and it is down to the hard work of the Arts & Events team in putting forward a convincing case of the ambitions for Tamworth.
“Again they have come up with a very interesting and exciting programme of events that people of all ages can take part in.

“With the refurbishment of the Assembly Rooms, we are creating a theatre that is fit for future generations, but while it is closed we must look at how we can continue to provide high quality arts entertainment and activities.
“By taking a variety of fun, exciting and sometimes unique events out into the community, and often in places that are not normally used for art, we are doing just that. We are making sure that performers still get to perform and theatre lovers still get to enjoy the theatre.

“However, Art in Unusual Spaces will hopefully go even further than that, because by taking art out into the community and making it more accessible, we hope it will inspire people to get involved and therefore create a new audience.
“We can then bring this confident, ready-made audience back to the Assembly Rooms when its new look is unveiled in the future.”

Plans are now underway for the first event, We Will Remember, and the programme will continue until summer 2018.

Tamworth Assembly Rooms is being restored and extended in a major refurbishment programme designed to bring it into the 21st century, in terms of both appearance and accessibility.

The regeneration is part of the ambitious £6.1million project by Tamworth Borough Council and Staffordshire County Council to develop an Enterprise Quarter in the heart of Tamworth town centre over the next three years.