New Strategy to Ensure Arts Are Accessible To All

Posted on: Friday, December 9, 2022

Over the past year, Newark and Sherwood District Council has been working to engage even more audiences, of different backgrounds than ever before with heritage and culture through a range of events and outreach. Now, their aim to work with the community in the most effective way possible is being developed as a forward strategy by the Council and is set to be discussed in a Cabinet Working Group.

The National Civil War Centre has made efforts to engage more local people and underserved groups this year. Teenagers from the district have enjoyed graffiti art workshops and an introduction to printmaking while families with toddlers have been able to take advantage of free weekly play sessions at Mini Museum.

Amidst the rising cost of living, free entry days for Newark and Sherwood residents have been increased and have included a Family Saturday event on the first weekend of each month, offering chances to take part in crafts and activities together, while each school holiday has also welcomed local people at no charge. This Summer’s Playhem activities saw a huge increase in the percentage of residents visiting the Centre and evidence shows that local people from more deprived areas were also able to take part.

Thanks to funding from the Gilstrap Foundation, thousands of people have also enjoyed free events at Newark Castle from a Medieval Fun Day to a Civil War re-enactment and a science and history themed Heritage Open Day.

The Learning provision has had a strong year too, welcoming over 3000 pupils to discover more about the Civil War, the Castle and Newark’s history. They have also stretched their focus to provide more resources for schools to use remotely, removing the cost of travel to the museum. New resources have been published on both their website and YouTube channel and they have created a range of new Discovery Boxes to bring the museum into the classroom. Exciting new resources are already being developed too, with a package for KS3 teachers ready to be published before Christmas and an incredible new primary school history resource called Upside Down World launching in the spring.

Councillor Rhona Holloway, Portfolio Holder for Economic Development and Visitors at Newark and Sherwood District Council, said: “This focus on making Heritage and Culture more accessible, welcoming and engaging for our communities is what the Cabinet Working Group will be developing. We’re very aware at the Council that our local community has changed in the 7 years since the National Civil War Centre opened and we want to reflect that in what is offered.

The arts are so important and we want all of our residents, no matter their financial situation, to feel there is something for them to get involved with at these great sites as well as offering outreach to take activities out to more isolated areas. We’ll also be looking at how we can collaborate with other teams within the Council who work with the community so that we are able to efficiently reach even more people and feel the benefits of interconnected working.

It was recently announced that the Council will be receiving National Portfolio Organisation status from Arts Council England with £927,000 of funding for the period of 2023 to 2026. This will also help to ensure that the Heritage and Culture Team are able to deliver inclusive, ambitious and exciting cultural services and events over the next three years and increase creative opportunities for young people and underserved groups. It was approved at this week’s Cabinet meeting that three roles, funded by the Arts Council grant, will be created to help deliver these projects and that an Independent Board will be formed as per the National Portfolio Organisation requirements.