Arts and culture activities planned for targeted communities in Mansfield

Arts and creative activities could be offered to targeted communities and neighbourhoods in Mansfield to encourage more people to engage with culture away from the town’s museum and theatre.

By Andrew Topping
Thursday, 28th April 2022, 12:00 pm

This includes offering regular, ‘sustained’ activities in areas like Portland, Ladybrook and Bull Farm, Oak Tree, Bellamy and Warsop, and focusing on skills and career programmes for residents.

Other targeted communities could include looked-after children, people with special educational needs and disabilities, and people targeted by gender-based violence.

It comes as part of the authority’s plan to become a national portfolio organisation, an art and culture operation which follows goals set by the national Arts Council.

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Mansfield Museum on Leeming Street.

If successful in a bid, expected to be submitted next month, Mansfield Council expects to receive about £560,000 from the Arts Council each year from 2023-26 to deliver a raft of targeted services.

The authority has set out eight projects it would target if successful with its NPO application, which also include an ‘active learning’ platform, workforce development, conservation projects and an environmental programme.

It also plans projects to increase creative quality and ambition in the district and to provide ‘long-term sustainability’ to the authority’s arts and culture offer.

Sian Booth, Mansfield Council cultural services manager, says Mansfield is a ‘“priority place’ for the Arts Council due to a “historic low-level of investment in the arts” and low cultural uptake.

She told the latest council overview and scrutiny meeting: “Mansfield really is in the spotlight and it’s our opportunity to go for this national portfolio.

“It builds on existing programmes we already have here, creating a strong and sustainable pipeline of high-level creative talent in Mansfield.”

She said it will look to improve the collection of work and art at Mansfield Museum, including ‘very rare and special natural history’, and target environmental sustainability.

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David Evans, council head of health and communities on the authority, said the NPO project will focus on more than just the existing facilities at the museum and neighbouring Palace Theatre on Leeming Street.

He said: “This is about taking culture and arts outside of the four walls of the theatre and the museum.

“We recognise lots of people will never engage in arts and culture by going to the museum or theatre – they will never, ever do it.

“So it’s about what else we can do to enable them to engage with it.

“This provides us with the opportunity to do exactly that because it gives us the financial clout to explore some of those projects and make a difference.”

The council will put together its NPO bid to the Arts Council by the deadline on May 18.

An oversight group will be set up and monitored by the existing overview and scrutiny committee, assessing how the organisation meets its Arts Council targets and is spending the funds.

There is currently one other NPO in Mansfield – Inspire Youth Arts, based at the Old Library, also on Leeming Street in the town centre, and run by Nottinghamshire Council’s countywide Inspire organisation.