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Wiltshire’s Creative Libraries at the heart of the local community

  • Date: 28 April 2014
  • Area: South West
Woman in 1940s costume reading a period newspaper

Bombs, Tiaras and Any Other Business was a huge success in Trowbridge.

Wiltshire's library service received £100,000 through Arts Council England's Grants for the arts Libraries fund to run a programme of creative and arts activities during 2014 called Creative Libraries.

The idea behind the project is to build bridges between libraries and the creative sector across the county and explore the potential of the library to be the creative heart of the local community.  This involves artists involving themselves with the library to develop work and demonstrate how a creative approach to bringing alive library spaces can work for the community as a whole.

Following an intensive development period an ambitious programme has just launched, featuring artists, theatre companies, writers, street performers, dancers and musicians engaging with audiences either inside library buildings or through the outreach services of the library. 

On 12 April 2014 Curious Company delivered Bombs, Tiaras and Any Other Business.  This innovative performance was written and produced by Louise Rennie of Curious Company, though its development and delivery was truly a partnership with the community, and many of the scenes were performed by the Trowbridge Players. The performance was supported by the local museum and town hall, as well as Trowbridge Arts. The show, ambitious and awesome in its use of a non-traditional space, was enjoyed by almost 250 people at two performances.

Exciting projects underway include

  • A Library Odyssey - Hoodwink Theatre Company taking the audience on an epic quest through the library after hours in a unique promenade show created especially for the Creative Libraries project. Expect visual surprises, engaging characters and a unique soundscape emanating from the books themselves. Performances will be in Salisbury, Trowbridge and Chippenham libraries.
  • Moving Words - Dance Artist Rebecca Seymour is leading a project to work with some of the residential homes visited by the Homes Mobile, as well as with some of the users of Wiltshire Libraries' housebound service.  The project takes literature and story as its inspiration, translating that into chair-based movement pieces. An outcome will see tools which can be used by library members with their own family members as a way of prompting memory and discussion.
  • James Aldridge is working with the communities of Royal Wootton Bassett, Warminster and Durrington on a Library Living Memory project in each town, taking stories and memories from town residents and representing them in a visual way. This artistic approach will lead to local history and creative practice fusing as the work is sustained at the library.
  • Dusty Feet is a visual art project curated by Two Destination Language at Salisbury Library.  This project will explore meaning augmented by installations and activities with library and gallery users.   Some of the work will be accessible round Wiltshire's library network via the inter-lending system.

Alongside the core commissions, a number of micro commissions and participatory projects will take place in libraries across the county, giving the library service the opportunity to work closely with a range of arts organisations, and for smaller and larger arts organisations to share learning through the project.  Creative Libraries is being delivered in close partnership with Wiltshire's Arts service.

Jonathon Seed, Wiltshire Council Cabinet member said: 'Libraries are at the heart of our communities and are an excellent venue to bring literature to life but also to reach out to those who may find it more difficult to get involved in cultural events.

'The power of the written word is being translated into a host of colourful events and we hope this year long celebration will inspire longer term projects which will enrich people's lives across the county.'

Katie Lusty, Relationship Manager, Libraries, South West, Arts Council England, said: 'This is a really exciting and ambitious project that will deliver high quality arts activities within Wiltshire's libraries and really engage with local communities.  We're particularly excited to support this project through Grants for the arts because it's all about bringing artists and communities together and where better to do that than a local library, the centre of the community.'

The Grants for the arts Libraries fund will invest £6 million of the Arts Council's Grants for the arts National Lottery money in projects delivered by public libraries or library authorities working in partnership with cultural organisations across all art forms.

It is hoped that the Grants for the arts Libraries fund will inspire ambitious, innovative partnerships between libraries and arts organisations, and encourage library users and those living locally to take part in artistic and cultural activities.

Public libraries can apply for grants of between £1,000 and £100,000 covering activities lasting up to three years. The fund opened to applications on 27 September 2012 and will run until March 2015.


You can find out more information about the Grants for the arts Libraries fund at: