What is Percent for Art?
Our Percent for Art team comprises of four arts officers who are based in our Community Investment Team and work across all areas of Bolton. Our arts officers work with residents, community groups, partners and other community stakeholders to develop socially engaged arts projects that help to improve our communities and benefit customers.
We commission appropriate artists or arts organisations, to work with the local community, and we manage the project from start to finish.
The Percent for Art service actively encourages individuals and community groups to get involved in schemes that can offer creative solutions to neighbourhood issues.
Ideas for arts projects can come from our neighbourhood teams and they will focus on specific neighbourhood priorities or be developed through conversations with community groups, partner organisations or other community stakeholders. Sometimes local arts projects are developed through wider Greater Manchester, regional or national networks or funding.
Our service also offers advice and guidance to our partners with regard to developing arts projects involving other social housing customers across Bolton. We have also been commissioned by partners to project manage a number of community arts and public / environmental art projects in Bolton.
Projects can be in any medium including visual arts, performance, music, crafts, digital art and film. They can take the form of arts based consultation, skills and confidence building projects, arts in health & wellbeing work, festivals and celebratory arts, as well as streetscaping and environmental arts projects designed to enhance the physical environment.
2019-2020 Ambition for Ageing Culture Champions
In 2019 the GM Ambition for Ageing Programme sought bids from partner organisations to develop the Culture Champions programme in areas across Greater Manchester. Bolton at Home was one of the successful bidders.
The Culture Champions programme aims to include a wide range of people aged over 50 in cultural activity and volunteering and to broaden the cultural offer taking place in communities. We are particularly interested in activities that focus on reaching older people at risk of social isolation and those who do not currently access cultural activity in their local areas.
Using our in-house resources, our network of community and cultural partners, and our knowledge of the cultural landscape, Bolton at Home planned to involve older people in cultural opportunities and, over the 12-months programme, grow a network of over-50s Culture Champions that would connect with their own communities as well as the wider network of Greater Manchester Cultural Champions.
Working with a core group, we have developed regular cultural engagement activities, supported local arts and heritage projects, programmed a series of networking, training and sharing events, and organised a number of cultural visits to inspire ideas and creativity that would engage over-50s.
Projects supported in Bolton to date include:
An audio description project for Bolton Art Gallery’s permanent collection, working with Bolton Museum & Art Gallery and visually impaired residents supported by Mind’s Eye audio description service.
A series of alliterative volunteer led activities aimed at engaging older people including: ‘Painting in the Pub’, ‘Poetry in the Pub’ and ‘Rhythm & Ramblings in the Roundhouse’ (‘Lyrics by the Lake’ is scheduled for spring/summer 2020).
Worktown Cotton Queens – An 18-week programme aimed at engaging older women led by a University of Bolton PhD researcher and a lecturer from Blackburn College. A group of 11 local women aged over 50 met weekly to research the lives of mill workers and develop a creative response through drama. The first few sessions of the programme involved participants researching the ‘Worktown’ archive at Bolton Local History Centre with talks from Dr Robert Snape, Professor of Cultural History (University of Bolton) and Matthew Watson, Collections Access Officer (Bolton Library & Museum). The group organised visits to Leeds Industrial Museum and Blackpool (following in the footsteps of some of the ‘Worktown’ mass observers). The research also provided the basis for a series playwriting workshops, the production of a drama based radio play and live performances. Their play has been published in a book about the project titled 'Spinning Tales: A Celebration of Worktown by 21st Century Cotton Queens'.
The book, radio play and short documentary film (produced by students from the University of Bolton working with Belle Vue Productions) about the Worktown Cotton Queens can be found at on the Worktown Festival website here https://www.worktownfestival.com/cotton-queens
The programme inspired the women to such an extent that a number of them continued their research outside the project. Three of the participants have signed up to, or are considering applying for degree courses, and some of the quotes (from the evaluation focus group held in February 2020) speak for themselves:
‘I always felt a little bit 'foreign' and homesick for a place I couldn't go back to...Now, with all I've learned about 'Worktown' I feel like I belong.’
‘I have enjoyed meeting different people. We have talked about our lives and formed friendships […] and learn more about the cotton industry and the history of the town where I have lived all my life.’
‘Cotton Queens has given me many new friendships as well as a sense of purpose. From this small group of women I have gained a greater sense of belonging to the wider community of Bolton.’
Heaton Art Group – A group of local art enthusiasts which formed in May 2019. Ambition for Ageing Culture Champions (Bolton) supported the group to set up, funding room hire, some materials, artist fees for a ‘mark-making’ workshop and a visit to the Great Print Exhibition at Rheged. The group continues to meet and, among other activities, is planning to run some printmaking workshops and host an open day.
Community Singing Training – a full day workshop led by Think Cre8tive CIC aimed at developing the skills of volunteers (new or experienced) that lead music or singing activities with older people, particularly those in care home settings. The event provided evidence-based practice for involving residents and patients in music intervention, with an inspirational presentation from clinical psychologist Dr Kat Taylor; warm ups, singing theory and practical experience; expert support and networking opportunities. Further, follow-up, events are planned later in 2020.
The Culture Champions Bolton project is being co-ordinated by Gaynor Cox, Housing Arts Officer with Bolton at Home’s Community Investment Team. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07979 70512