Partly to illustrate hope, activities which cast forward and stimulate creativity – as a break from engagement with crisis. We recognise that not all newly arrived residents fit this category, of course.
The Arts can include any welcoming, inclusive creative activity that supports newly arrived or minority community members.
Enterprise/Business can be services, free at the point of delivery, which will add to the enterprise creation expertise and knowledge of our communities of interest.
If you have a group, or project, that welcomes any new arrivals or BME community members in these categories, drop us a line and we’ll add it to our community gazette.
If you write a 100 words or so to tell us what you do, that would be great too. We will support contributors by using our publication skills to develop and promote the work of groups.
In 1851 J.W.Hudson, speaking at the opening of the Mechanic’ and Apprentices’ Library in Liverpool, opined that a visit to the library would, for the reader, lead to them ‘…receiving cultivation, not in reading the latest accounts of mis-demeanours and local calamities…but in imbibing instruction and high gratification from the perusal of select and valuable works whether they lead him with the traveller, across the pathless tracts of oceans, or cheer and console him, with moral sketches of human nature’. (Source: Mid-Victorian Britain 1851-75, Geoffrey Best, Fontana Press, 1985, London, p.232)
Whilst the publicly accessible library, after nearly a century or more of rising literacy in our country would then clearly stir the intellectual interest of Everyman (and Everywoman and Everychild too – Ed.) the message is still clarion today, stimulating the autodidact to seize the high ground of undiscovered knowledge and learning.
The adult, or child reader, will today find a mesmerising range of interests available at their local library that carries the long echo from that opening event in mid-nineteenth century Liverpool. Experience is still to be garnered for the mind, in the face of closures, funding cuts and, perhaps, even a topical turn away from the intellect towards ‘accounts of mis-demeanours and local calamities‘.
Suffolk Libraries, during June 2018, are teaming up with Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds to host five performances as part of the ‘Once Upon A Festival’ children’s arts festival.
The Suffolk Libraries festival programme looks like this:
‘When the Pied Piper plays his flute the rats run, the greedy mayor rubs his hands and the children dance… Norwich Puppet Theatre’s humorous and irresistible one-person show combines a skillful mix of puppetry, foot-tapping music and storytelling and will have audiences young and old entranced’.
‘The Children in the Moon is a wonderfully visual and original take on centuries old children’s verse, packed with puppetry and live music this is an ideal show for all the family. Tickets for this show are £1 per child’.
‘Join Mr Junkman and discover the sonic delight of everyday objects rescued from the urban wasteland. Learn how to build your own mini junk orchestra at home or in class. Experience and discover music from the twilight zone to foot stomping fun’.
‘6 strings, 8 dancing feet and 4 voices with 1 aim: to make classical music wickedly funny and fantastically exhilarating for everyone, young and old. Graffiti Classics burst the elitist boundaries of the traditional string quartet with their hilarious all-singing, all-dancing musical comedy show’.
‘Join Mr Junkman and discover the sonic delight of everyday objects rescued from the urban wasteland. Learn how to build your own mini junk orchestra at home or in class. Experience and discover music from the twilight zone to foot stomping fun’.
Use the Suffolk Library links to check out these gems of ‘library performance’ and kick-start the 7 to 13 year old auto-didact in your family today.
Context and Editor Notes:
Libraries and the Arts are deeply embedded in our culture and history. By the 1680’s, in England, libraries were growing more common, from the large installation in the affluent country house, to ‘the more modest bookshelf in the yeoman’s farm‘. Public libraries, as we might understand the term, were extremely rare outside Oxford and Cambridge.
In 1684, the Rector of St. Martin’s in the Fields, working with Christopher Wren, set out to build a library ‘for public use’. The Rector and Wren built a large house in the grounds of the churchyard, using the upper story as an accessible library and the downstairs as a ‘workroom for the poor’.
Thus beginning, arguably, the long tradition of the library as a multi-use space, feeding the individual mind, raising community social capital and road-mapping the way to the intellectual horizon.
Everything we might want today.
(Source: English Social History – Chaucer to Queen Victoria, G.M.Trevelyan, Penguin Books, London, 1978, p. 279)
Once Upon A Festival is now in its fourth year and aims to make performance art more accessible in theatres, schools and communities by taking the performances to children in their school or community. For more information visit www.onceuponafestival.co.uk
Melissa Matthews, Suffolk Libraries Art Programme Co-ordinator, says: “We’re delighted to host these events. Once Upon A Festival delivers high quality dynamic performances from a variety of companies and libraries are a great place to host exciting events like this in the community. We want to deliver more events like this as part of our Arts programme to open up new and accessible arts experiences for children and young people.”
(Source: Suffolk Libraries Press Release, June 2018 – https://www.suffolklibraries.co.uk/news/once-upon-a-festival/ )
Week-long, mixed media residency working in partnership with METAL
Monday 30 July – Friday 3 August 2018
‘As part of Year 1 of the Suffolk Libraries Arts Programme, we are inviting Suffolk artists to take over the top floor of Ipswich County Library to explore the role creativity plays as catalyst for nurturing confidence and well-being in young people’.
In it Cosslet takes to task the political pundit Andre Walker, for his omnipotent vision of the library service in the UK. Namely that no-one visits them anymore and they should all be closed down and the books given to schools.
Is there something Presidential in this decimation of the library service by Twitter?
Rhiannon goes on to thread her story with her use of the public library when young – developing intellectual curiosity, cultural awareness, knowledge of the world and taking up the rich opportunity public libraries offer to graze the landscape of the word, six books at a time.
Original text: In the Spring of 2015 the Adam Smith Institute published an article entitled ‘The End of Local Authority Libraries‘. As the economic ice age of Osbornian austerity descended upon us, the Press was full of cultural turbulence about the closure and operational rigidity of our national literacy assets.
Although the general Press attention has diminished, it is telling that the dilution of the library service has continued unabated, albeit with increasingly diminished media currency, as we have been further overwhelmed by matters of political moment in and about Europe, perhaps.
The website Public Libraries News, in July, declared that now ‘there are at least five hundred libraries that are staffed, if not entirely run by volunteers’. On the one hand, this is a sign, we would argue, that there is profound suport for the local library at grassroots level. But it is also a sign, looking at the plethora of continual changes and negative reviews of library services across the country on the website, that there is no clear, effective and equally profound form of new governance emerging for libraries.
One that, at once taps into localism, yet satisfies the need for an eclectic and near universal access to knowledge and leisure, free at the point of delivery for those who need it most.
The trade union Unison are to hold a National SOS Day on the 19th of October, 2017. Save our Services is designed to show that ‘...libraries are a hub and a haven in our communities. They offer a place for people to work, relax, discover and think.They are a source of local knowledge and history and give everyone access to books, DVDs, music and more, for free or at a very low cost.
But libraries also do a lot more than lend books. Many hold events, anything from story time for children to yoga classes for adults. Library workers help people look for work, advise on using IT, organise talks by authors and so much more‘.
The debate, then, continues to have currency. The Adam Smith Institute argued, in its article by Eamonn Butler, that the free market was the solution to the ‘library deficit’ issue, as to be expected. That exemplars of library innovation, in the shape of American organisations such as Library Systems and Services, were to be the saviours of a moribund library market.
However, research shows that the accession of LSSI to the pinnacle of library stewardship has not been entirely successful in the USA. An earlier article in the New York Times shows how both library staff and users, even in the more affluent cities where LSSI has obtained contracts, have been happy to lead protests. Dissenting voices to the ending of unionised services, diminution of book stocks and antagonism towards the ethics of ‘libraries for profit’.
The Butler argument, from the Adam Smith Institute, saw the then new Birmingham City Library building as an example of ossification of service. The £188 million building began to operate on a ‘self-funded’ basis for events, for example, in the context of author events or arts activity. Both previously seen as draws to footfall for the library service. Indeed key activities in a wider cultural obligation for libraries, we would argue.
However, debate about the capital cost of a building in austere times is one thing, but the Institute author’s position somewhat fails to recognise that it is free market policies which have led to the very fiscal landscape that has so diminished the library service.
If a library is battered by exogenous fiscal policy upheaval, it is somewhat unfair to blame the librarian for lack of service, or diversity in activity, surely?
Is there hope for change? We think so.
We were pleased to see that there is widening acceptance by Councils that the community should have control of libraries as a community resource. At the beginning of August, for example, Derby City Council declared for the cessation of control of ten libraries, which will see ‘…the loss of at least 39 library assistants’ jobs and two library managers, of almost 100 staff who work for the authority. Community groups will get £17,500 a year each to fund their own managed libraries until 2022…’
What is concerning, in this case, is the timetable and the level of grant in aid ceded to the community organisations in the City, to effectively manage the transfer and creation of a new community organisation to deliver the service.
More positively again, Bury Council this month have approved a new community asset transfer plan. ‘The new policy means applications from groups to buy community assets from the council will be considered against ‘key tests’ designed to ensure a deal which is best for the council and residents‘. The landscape of community opportunity grows!
However, it is entirely possible, we would argue, to imagine the creation of community libraries as Social Enterprises, where the not for profit governance model delivers a mix of volunteer and employee led services, bolstered by an admixture of social business services to support and maintain the core library provision.
A community cafe, a learning centre, a gardening or horticultural project…the list could easily be imaginatively extended by a dynamic, active community. The whole focused upon the creation of ‘…a place for people to work, relax, discover and think‘, to remind us of the Unison observation.
If the trade union are having an SOS Day, why do we not start a new think-tank movement, LASER – Libraries as Social Enterprise Renewal.
Write to conversationsEAST if you are interested in social enterprise, passionate about libraries and learning and keen to develop governance-sound, community led, not for profit library buildings.
We’ll publish a web site, host a meeting and give the idea traction?
Additional narrative – 20.08.2017
We have just come across a recent article in Wired by Susan Crawford, where she argues for a resurgence in phiilanthropy to revitalise the library service.
In the text, in response to a recent tweet by Jeff Bezos asking for suggestions about a new shape for his giving, she argues for an Amazon/Bezos programme of giving to libraries.
Developing Jeff Bezos’s current long term view of his ‘social investments’ towards, arguably, a philanthropic delivery that would cater for the short and the long term. Mr. Bezos describes his search for a new intitiative ‘…to help people in the here and now’. Our new library programme, as described, would do that, but also cater for the long term too.
Namely a series of Amazon Memorial Libraries, or Bezos Community Cultural Centres, would benefit the communities they were placed in, but they would also create new readers and enhance human capital in the hinterland of their sites, as well as delivering a major philosophical boost to the image of Amazon as a socially beneficial company.
We understand Jeff Bezos reads every email sent directly to him. We’ll write to Mr. Bezos and make a suggestion supporting a new philanthropic venture into the British library landscape, and explore the models that might be created.
“We hopped on the bus near the Ospedale Maggiore di Bologna, having purchased our biglietti for Euro 1.50, and found we could ride the autobus, through the medieval cobbled streets of the city, in any direction for ninety minutes”.
Our Partnership team were in Bologna, Italy last week. We were attending the Children’s Book Fair to meet with publishers, authors and artists, and to soak up the atmosphere of world class creativity and dynamism that is the book trade for children in Italy.
Being regular attenders at the London Book Fair, it was noticeable that, although the giant Amazon had a media stand at the week in Bologna, there was nothing like the all pervading presence they seemed to have in London earlier in the year.
Indeed, for the retail giant Italy is still a market in development. We noted that “…Amazon’s Prime service offers one-day delivery of a million products in 6,000 Italian towns and 2-3 days for the rest of the country“. Read more here… Source: Italy24 web pages.
With a significant Amazon building and development programme in Italy under way, the diversity and complexity of the other international publishing presences in Bologna, from traditional publishers to independent writers, artists and agents, was a sign that the trade in Italy is perhaps conditioned and delivered still in a very traditional way. Affording much opportunity for disruptive innovation in retail distribution we suspect.
As a micro-publisher, establishing our own tentative foothold in the Italian market, what was stunningly noticeable was the available space and ease with which new graphic artists, illustrators and designers could display their work.
Whatever language children are reading in, the quality of the illustrative art applied to the story enhances and opens that bridge to the imagination. It is as important as the ‘book’ itself, or the page layout or font choice, we would argue. The simplest narrative story can become an exciting page turner with the addition of wonderful artistic creativity. There was much of it evident in Italy last week.
Entering the exhibition halls at the event in Bologna Fiere was like stepping into a giant gallery. With a fantastic display of artwork in the principal foyer, annexed to a series of giant display boards for the young and independent artist to display samples of their work. Although the book trade is about business, the Italian approach led with free form creativity and individual design expertise in a way that we felt was unusual in the English book trade.
Some simple highlights for us during the week…
We enjoyed the informal display of Marco’s work. He produces character with a gentle style, with which to enhance any children’s story, we felt. Engaging, friendly but equally up to the illustration of a more challenging narrative.
Based in Desenzano del Gardo, Italy – you can find Marco Bonatti’s work on the web here.
Katie both studies and lectures in the Arts at Bournemouth University. She also runs Seablue Designs, a wonderfully evocative title for her business, which encompasses oceanic themes and a subtle and diverse range of blue in her work.
Katie’s palette, even informally displayed, is striking when seen from a distance, which is what caught our eye, but is equally as powerful on the page when feeding a child’s imagination.
Another graduate of Bournemouth University Arts faculty, Natasha produces images of plants and animals that are bold in structure and colour, but which are always seemingly ‘anatomically’ sound and proportionally framed.
We liked her structured pattern work particularly, standing out as it did from many of her contemporaries on display in Bologna.
(All artist featured images captured from the Bologna Children's Fair ad-hoc display boards in 2017. Copyright remains entirely with the individual artist).
It was the artistry and illustrative energy that was the touchstone experience for us in Bologna this year. Although we were able to build a number of new partnerships and projects for 2017/2018, it is the imprint of ‘the image’ that will stay with us, particularly the energy of the work typical of the artists we have championed above.
Historical linearity in illustration:
We were looking, on behalf of another project before our departure for mainland Europe last week, at the history of children’s book illustration. The Digital Bodleian in Oxford have a wonderful new web resource featuring a number of historic children’s books and games.
You can trace a linear development between the Bodleian web holdings, many dating from the beginning of the Nineteenth Century, through to the modern day.
Not only in their stories about children, but also how the imaginative landscape is pictured, focused on illustration as we are in this article. Innovation was the driving force even then.
We particularly liked the game Choriama, dating from 1824, which serves as a ‘youth’s instructor’ in the drawing and colouring of landscape. The work being made up of a number of individual landscape sections, which can be folded and re-folded to create new topographies of play. See more at the Digital Bodleian here.
We also warmed to depictions of A Round of Fun. Pleasant illustrations of classroom activity where imagination and fun, with guidance , are the focus of the day’s activity. Is this not how school should be?
This work, in the Digital Bodleian, was created in England but was printed in Germany. See more of the Round of Fun at the Digital Bodleianon the web here.
Our whole Digital Bodleian experience, looking back, has been resonant with echoes of our contemporary take on the Book Fair in Bologna.
Creative and imaginative illustrations, some classical and others traditional in feel, the many with a modernist take on old themes – the whole utilising the practised hand of the artist, European production skills and education marketing. A creative journey from the Nineteenth Century to now, following enduring first principles.
We are already booking them for the 2018 event! Perhaps we may see another blue crocodile?
Editorial note on Italy:
Italians, in a recent report, the Bloomberg Global Health Index of 163 countries, lay claim to being some of the healthiest citizens in the world. Despite the prolonged downturn in the country’s economy and with up to 40% of the young unemployed.
It is the proximity to high art and culture, as well as a high vegetable and fruit diet, that must be responsible for the continual flowering of Italian artistic endeavour surely?
It’s that time of year again. We are packing our notebooks, pencils and cameras for a series of editorial visits, as usual, to the Chelmsford Ideas Festival 2016.
22nd October till the 12th November 2016.
”The Chelmsford Ideas Festival aims to stimulate and inspire people through a set of innovative events, talks and workshops”.
With a much improved web site this year, you can find a range of activities and interests to stimulate the intellect across a variety of themes. Each category of event has its own diary section. See below for what might interest you most.
To book individual workshops and events simply open the calendar entry on the web page to get full details of the event and how to book.
Highlights from the programme? We liked…
Rooted Art – Public Art Workshops 25th October, 2016 10.00 to 12.00
‘Let’s make history! Join Artist Nick Haydon (known for his large scale printmaking) and Artist Victoria Button in creating a massive historic mural in Chelmsford city centre, depicting stories of the city’s heritage. Funded by Essex County Council’.
Chat About the Old Days – 27th October and 27th November, 2016 – 14.00 to 16.30
‘Come along to this free session – enjoy a cup of tea/coffee and a cake for just £1 and join us in reminiscing about the ‘old days’. (Don’t forget: even teenagers have an ‘old days’ – what do you remember about times past?)
Our idea is to have a jolly good nostalgic chat session over a cup of tea and then for some of the memories and stories that come out to form the basis of a new community artwork to be displayed at the Ideas Hub. Maybe it will be the start of a series of artworks…who knows?’
ESA’S COPERNICUS PROGRAMME: How is E2V protecting Planet earth? 24th October 19:00 – 21:00
‘Paul Jerram is Chief Engineer for Space Imaging at e2v, Chelmsford. Headquartered in Chelmsford, e2v is bringing life to technology and employs 1750 people globally. e2v partners with customers to provide world-class image sensors and detection subsystems that can help solve the mysteries of the Universe, understand climate change on Earth and much, much more…’
Event follows the Festival launch at Anglia Ruskin University.
The Ideas Festival Chelmsford, 22nd October till the 12th November 2016, is certainly now a premier intellectual and cultural landmark in the regional festival landscape. Visit the web site and book to join in the work. You will not be disappointed.
This is a stunning piece of work, encapsulating business modelling, ideas curation and potentiality for delivery , route mapping and success measurement – all through the meta-filter of the arts and culture agenda.
The toolkit is not a complex piece, nor is it exhaustive, but it does contain processes which any arts focused project can use to identify new opportunities, to plan the business case for the digital work, focus on audience and user value, collaborate, design, build and engage, then evaluate and share.
Simple and effective solutions to arts project planning and delivery in the digital domain.
‘The arts sector is fizzing with ideas and creative ambition. Large and small organisations are using digital technologies to deliver dazzling online experiences linked to live events, useful services for learners, interactive displays in physical spaces and so much more’. Source: The Concept – Digital Toolkit
Whether developing the concept in mind with the Six Hats methodology or taking a more mainstream approach to idea development by using the Business Model Canvas, then the toolkit from The Digital R&D Fund for the Arts offers plenty of opportunity to use the techniques best suited to your management team, volunteers or funders.
Using it here, in the arts and culture context, the main headings have been adjusted to include clarity of thought in the project overview, sales and marketing, operations and resources, staff and management…and finance too.
Contemplating a digital arts or cultural project then the web lends itself to testing, data collection, evaluation and storytelling derived from a completed project. The digital toolkit contains much that is useful in using and shaping output from new media and new technology, within the context of arts delivery.
We recently wrote, on our Communications EAST Toolkit page about The Growthverse, a very useful web service that can help you decide upon and plan deployment of your new media, user relationships and feedback methodologies. We commend it to arts professionals too. Although it is intended for tech start-ups, there is insight to be gained from exploring it, we would argue.
The Fling Festival is taking place today on Saturday 4th July at Hylands Park in Chelmsford.
‘An abundance of local talent across four music stages, including Paolo Morena, Little Donkey, The Midnight Barbers,Secret Company, Stealing Signs, The Kubricks, Creme de Chevre, ukulele group D’Ukes, Band of Fools, Tall Dark Friend, Ady Johnson, Animal Noise, Papa Shango, Bakerside and 12 piece group Nat & The Noise Brigade, who will be bringing their eclectic mix of brass, wind, strings and more to Hylands Park…’
However, there is talk set amongst all the music and song.
A visit to Sainsbury Centre on Friday 20th February, 2015
We had a group of seventeen fellows and friends who met up for the visit. We congregated at 10.30 for complimentary tea and coffee at the Modern Life café and then we were taken off by three guides to explore the Centre. We began with the Permanent exhibition on the ground floor and then after a short break proceeded to the basement exhibition areas to view the Reality exhibition, which was outstanding.
The Sainsbury Centre is one of the most prominent university art galleries in Britain, and a major national Centre for the study and presentation of art.
It houses the extraordinary art collection of Robert and Lisa Sainsbury, as well as the Anderson Collection of Art Nouveau and the University’s Abstract and Constructivist Collection. Alongside these permanent collections, there is a range of temporary exhibitions, with new galleries providing the largest climate-controlled exhibition space in Eastern England. Also on offer is an award-winning learning programme of gallery talks, lectures and art workshops. (See the programme of lectures, symposia and training here).
The Collections at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts represent some of the most remarkable works of art assembled in the UK. The Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Collection features work spanning 5,000 years of human creativity. The presentation of art from across time and place continues to inspire and surprise and uniquely presents art as a universal global phenomenon.
The Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Collection
Permanently displayed in the Living Area Gallery, the collection includes major holdings of art from Oceania, Africa, the Americas, Asia, the ancient Mediterranean cultures of Egypt, Greece and Rome, Medieval Europe, and including a significant number of works acknowledged as seminal examples of European modern art. Pablo Picasso, Edgar Degas, Francis Bacon, Jacob Epstein, Henry Moore, Alberto Giacometti and Amedeo Modigliani are all represented in the collection.
The Lisa Sainsbury Ceramics Collection
Although not formally part of the Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Collection, the Lisa Sainsbury Ceramics Collection represents a major collection of 20th century studio ceramics, including a significant body of work by Lucie Rie and Hans Coper.
The Sainsbury Abstract Collection
The Sainsbury Abstract Collection includes paintings from the post second world war Ecole de Paris with a strong preference for lyrical abstraction and Tachisme, art movements that flourished in France from 1945 to 1960. Notable artists included in the collection are Jean Fautrier, Charles Maussion and Mubin Orhon.
The Anderson Collection of Art Nouveau
Alongside the Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Collection sits another principle collection; The Anderson Collection of Art Nouveau, donated in 1978 by Sir Colin Anderson, a close friend of Sir Robert and Lady Sainsbury. The collection represents artists working across a range of disciplines and materials such as glassware and furniture, metalware and jewelry. The collection includes pieces by leading exponents of Art Nouveau such as Louis Comfort Tiffany, Emile Gallé and René Lalique.
The University Collection of Abstract and Constructivist Art, Design and Architecture was established by the University in 1968. This Collection concentrates on the non-objective, constructive and concrete art movements of the 20th century and the related fields of architecture and design, such as the English Vorticists, the Russian Suprematists and Constructivists, the Dutch De Stijl Group and the German Bauhaus School.
All who attended enjoyed getting to know each other and spoke of possibly another visit soon. It was very much enjoyed by all and many used their ticket to linger longer in the afternoon. Also, a new Francis Bacon exhibition is coming soon. The Francis Bacon paintings are currently at the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg and will return for the Francis Bacon and the Masters exhibition in April.
Possibly another day out!
Christine O’Hanlon FRSA
(Public domain images are for illustrative purposes only – they do not seek to represent the collections in the narrative about this visit).
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