Film festival could help to raise Mansfield's cultural profile and boost arts

The first steps towards a possible film festival for Mansfield have been taken as part of a bid to increase access to the arts.

By Richard Silverwood
Tuesday, 24th May 2022, 5:27 pm

The festival is the brainchild of talented Mansfield film-maker Jay Martin, 23, who is spearheading a mission to boost the town’s cultural profile after years of cuts in funding.

Supporters have been encouraged by the government’s decision to pump an extra £75 million into the arts by 2025.

As part of its levelling-up agenda, the government has a specific aim of helping places that have been “culturally under-served in the past”.

A film festival for Mansfield is the brainchild of talented local film-maker Jay Martin, 23.

And both Mansfield District Council and the town’s MP, Ben Bradley, are firmly behind the idea of a film festival.

It is understood that the council is enthusiastic about making an attempt to receive regular funding from the Arts Council.

Sian Booth, cultural services manager at the district council, said: “A film festival is a tentative ambition, and we are pleased there is enthusiasm for the idea from local creatives.

"The council is always looking at ways to improve the cultural offering in the district, both for the benefit of residents and to encourage visitors from beyond. We constantly apply to various funding streams to facilitate this.

Jay Martin's highly acclaimed documentary film, 'REDt'BLUE, is out now. It tells the story of how Mansfield went from Labour red to Conservative blue for the first time in 2017.

"However, at this point, it would be premature that a film festival is a definite project.

"There is still a long way to go before an event of this kind could be a reality – not least in acquiring the level of funding required to take it forward.”

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Jay is convinced a film festival would “great for the town” and hopes a portion of the government’s £75 million can trickle down to Mansfield.

He said: "Mansfield needs a cultural boost, it is clear to see. It has been under-funded by successive governments for decades, both culturally and generally. It is something I am going to try and rectify.

"More grassroots arts funding would be massive. The £75 million doesn’t cure the problem. Hundreds of millions have been cut from arts funding over the last 12 years. But it will go a little way towards ensuring there is some improvement.

"Ultimately, councils and MPs will make the decisions, but I will be passing on my ideas, and I already have the support of Ben Bradley, who has been chatting to local cultural organisations.

"I don’t have a masterplan, but I have a bit of expertise as a grassroots artist, and I will be giving my suggestions.”

That expertise shines through in the short documentary film, ‘REDt’BLUE’, which Jay has made and can now be watched online.

Paid for out of his own pocket, the highly-acclaimed film tells the story of how and why Mansfield went from Labour (red) to Conservative (blue) for the first time in history at the 2017 General Election, triggering the fall of the so-called ‘red wall’ of seats in the Midlands and the North.

‘REDt’BLUE’ was shown at a special event in Nottingham last week, ‘Ask An MP About The Arts’, when about 50 film-makers, actors, musicians and others in the creative industries chatted with Labour MP Lilian Greenwood on subjects such as funding.

Jay said: "It wasn’t a call to arms, but Lilian went along to listen and to help her understand our perspectives.”