- Date: 25 September 2012
- Region: Yorkshire
Young people participating in a music workshop using Firestix. Credit: Jim Lockey
The people of Doncaster are set to benefit from new opportunities to participate in the arts.
Doncaster has been successful in its bid for Creative People and Places funding. The Arts Council is investing £2.5 million in the town in an ambitious three-year project called Right Up Our Street, which aims to make arts activity an integral part of people’s lives. Together with the £20 million new performance venue, due to open in summer 2013, the stage is set for an inspiring and creative future for the area.
Creative People and Places focuses investment in parts of the country where people’s involvement in the arts is significantly below the national average. It takes a new approach by allowing communities and grassroots organisations to play a leading part in inspiring others to get involved with the arts. darts (Doncaster Community Arts) developed the successful bid, in partnership with the new performance venue Doncaster Council and Doncaster Voluntary Arts Network. Doncaster is one of seven areas in England to receive funding in the first phase of the programme.
Right Up Our Street will develop a network of five community arts bases in Balby, Mexborough, Rossington, Bentley and East Doncaster. Creative activity will be woven into the rhythms of these communities’ routines – and will be led and commissioned by community champions facilitated by professional arts supporters. Activity will link with a central arts base - a partnership of current arts providers including individual artists, darts, the new performance venue and the town’s museum and art gallery. Members will programme new work which both responds to community opinions and challenges and extends their current practice. You can read more about the plans on darts’ website.
Elaine Hirst, Co-Director, darts says: ‘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 and developing those things themselves – and if those activities are relevant and accessible to them.
'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 organisations - get together to explore exactly what art is Right up Our Street.’
‘It’s a really exciting time for the arts in Doncaster’, adds Cluny Macpherson, Regional Director at Arts Council England. ‘People there have the right to make and see art of the very highest standard, just as much as anyone in Leeds or London or Paris or New York. I am delighted the Arts Council has invested in the town, both through the Creative People and Places programme, and with over £2m lottery money for the new performance venue. I can’t wait to come back next year and be inspired by what is happening in communities across the borough as well as in the brilliant new venue.’
As darts starts to realise its plans for Right Up Our Street, the development of the new performance venue continues apace. Last week saw the completion of the new performance venue’s roof and a ‘topping out’ ceremony. The venue, which has been 15 years in the planning, will include a 620 seat theatre kitted out to accommodate touring shows, a flexible space ideal for live music and smaller productions, modern dance and drama studios, educational and rehearsal spaces that will double up as meeting and conference rooms, a spacious foyer area and a café bar with views out onto the public square.
Kully Thiarai is Executive Director of Doncaster’s New Performance Venue. She is excited about the Creative People and Places funding and what it means for the town: '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.'
Round two of the Creative People and Places fund is now open for application.