The Forum received an update from the Arts Development Manager and the Engagement Officer on two projects that had been launched this year; Wild Escape and Create Our Space. Wild Escape was a national project with the premise of connecting schools to heritage and nature using museums and artists. It was funded by Art Fund. The Thelma Hulbert Gallery (THG) had partnered with Allhallows Museum in Honiton and the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and 28 children across years 4 and 5 in Honiton Town primary school would be taken out into the Blackdown Hills, to the museum and to the gallery. The children would be working with an artist to create a kinetic sculpture. The project would culminate with a procession from the primary school to the THG garden on Earth Day on 22 April 2023, with additional activities planned.
The Arts Development Manager explained the Create Our Space project, which was designed to create inclusive opportunities to engage with arts, culture and climate, responding to the needs of East Devon’s young people, aged 7 to 25. It was the first time specific focus had been on that age range and there were some high profile partners. The project was being co-delivered and funded with the University of Exeter, Honiton Community College and Allhallows Museum. There were four pillars in the project. The first was the appointment of an intern. Working with the University of Exeter and their business partnership scheme an intern was being hosted for 15 hours a week for 10 months. Training opportunities were being developed by young people for young people of all different ages at the THG.
The first exhibition a part of Create Our Space was a called Paradise Found and would open on 18 March 2023. It was an ambitious project and included a workshop programme for the gallery.
The Arts Development Manager informed the Forum that funding was available to keep the creative cabin going and it would be present at various festivals across the district and the cabin now had a dedicated culture vehicle. In addition to working with South West Museums and the Arts Council, work could now be done with Cranbrook. It would also help deliver the Wild Honiton commitment, going to the housing estates in East Devon and also working with the refugee communities.
Following this, Brian Knox, ACE music champion gave the Forum an update on core music activities. The idea behind ‘live music at the king of clubs’ in Ottery St Mary was to increase access to experience and participate in the arts. The venue was self-funded, with door money paying the artists and hire fees. Last year there had been 20 shows, with opportunities for 60 local musicians, including PR exposure. The Kabins band was an example of success. The focus this year was shifting to emerging artists, with ‘Battle of the Bands’ and there was involvement in the Ottery Project with Villages in Action. Brian Knox was thanked for his update.