Cambridgeshire Community and Cultural Services have been awarded funding from Arts Council England to run a programme of arts events in 10 libraries across the county. The programme will be curated by Library Friends groups and activities will start in October 2017.
The £93,271 grant will allow the participating libraries and their community representatives to make their own selection from a rich and varied ‘menu’ of arts activities and events designed around three main strands: Performances, Workshops and Book Festivals. The programme is called ‘The Library Presents…Arts Alive’.
Funding is for the delivery of high quality professional arts experiences selected by the community in ten selected libraries across Cambridgeshire, some of them have been involved previously, to others this will be a new experience.
Working together, we will deliver a menu of inspiring activities to reach new audiences, and to develop the skills of Friends Groups, library staff and volunteers. The arts programme will further build local audiences for the arts - in libraries and beyond, it will make best use of library buildings, engage people in volunteering and develop confidence and skills to sustain this.
Here are just a few of the possible performances included on The Library Presents…Arts Alive menu Library Friends and Volunteers are choosing from…
July 2017: Local people and Library Friends are currently choosing from an amazing menu of performances and workshops for The Library Presents…Arts Alive programme. Each Library is choosing their own programme of inspiring events, that they think will appeal most to local people.
The ten Libraries involved are Yaxley, Wisbech, Chatteris, March, Arbury Court, Barnwell, Littleport, Soham, Ramsey and St Neots. Libraries are looking for local people to support the events, if you feel inspired to volunteer some of your time watch this space!!
Find out more below about opportunities, funding and history of The Library Presents…Arts Alive.
Arts Alive, the history
We began with a small grant from Arts Council England called the Libraries Development Initiative, which enabled staff and newly emerging Friends groups to test the water with an arts programme in four libraries. The feedback was really positive, so we applied for a grant under the Grants for the Arts funding strand of the National Lottery. Grants for the arts is an open-application funding programme, which funds arts activities that engage people in England, or that help artists and arts organisations carry out their work.
The application was successful and it enabled a more sustained programme in eight libraries, which finished in Autumn 2016. Arts Alive in Libraries 2014-2017 was a great success. Across the eight libraries involved, a total of 145 events, activities and workshops were put on, engaging 3,648 members of local communities. A substantial amount of the work involved was down to our Friends of the Library groups!
We now have the chance to build on the experience gained over the last few years and join in again, this time with 10 libraries involved.
We feel we learnt some important lessons from the last round and these have informed our new programme.
We will have a Project Co-ordinator who will liaise with all libraries involved, coordinating schedules and publicity, liaising with Babylon Arts, with artists/authors/performers on a practical level and generally keeping us all on track.
Opportunties to be involved
We will be counting on Library Friends groups to help to publicise events and activities. The project manager will produce a template for promotional materials and produce press releases to promote more widely, but there is nothing to beat the power of ‘word of mouth’ and local contacts that Friends, volunteers and staff bring to the table.
Active Support for Events & Activities
We are also looking at development opportunities that we could offer to Friends and co-opted members – such as a course on manual handling, promotion, technical skills required for sound or lighting support, and chances to find out more about the potential performers.
The ‘Menu’ will be available very shortly - at the beginning of July. The selection of local activities by Library Friends and community representatives will take place in July and August ready for events to start from October.
The Library Presents…Arts Alive is a fantastic opportunity for everyone in the community to be involved, develop an interest in film, creative writing, see live performances and build strong local engagement using the library as an arts space within the community. It will also enable the friends groups and library staff to work with high quality professional artists and arts organisations to deliver an adventurous programme.