Arts Council England funding set to give a cultural boost to Amber Valley communities

2 December 2021

Communities within Amber Valley, Derbyshire, are set to benefit from a new programme of cultural activity after a consortium, led by the University of Derby, was awarded a grant of up to £826,000 for its Make/Shift project, as part of the Arts Council England Creative People and Places National Portfolio 22-25 programme.

The consortium’s innovative approach to the project will genuinely support and engage local people in shaping arts and cultural provision and addressing themes of importance in the Amber Valley area.

child playing with nature

The project will reflect communities within Amber Valley, their aspirations, the past, present and future of the area, connecting people through diverse arts opportunities linked to wellbeing, nature and recovery and inspiring them to work toward a shared artistic and cultural future.

Due to start in April 2022, the project will be delivered by the University, in collaboration with regional partners including Amber Valley Community Voluntary Services, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, the Derbyshire Federation of Women's Institutes and Platform Thirty1.

Professor Kathryn Mitchell DL, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Derby, said: “We are delighted that our application for Arts Council England Creative People and Places funding has been successful, and to be in a position to move forward with our exciting plans to develop a programme of cultural activity with and for Amber Valley, Derbyshire.

“As a university we have a strong civic role to play and are committed to transforming lives and opening the doors to opportunities for all, so it is fantastic that by working as a partnership we will be able to use this funding to engage with and support communities to shape art and cultural provision through the Make/Shift project.”

The consortium brings interests, experience and expertise in co-creating and managing community centred projects, as well as deep practical and theoretical understanding of issues related to environmental stewardship, mental and physical wellbeing, and delivery of touring work.

Over the lifetime of the project, communities will work with professional artists and community ambassadors (local and national) to imagine and make a shared, sustainable cultural future.

Dr Jo Smith, Chief Executive of Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, said: “We are thrilled to be part of this exciting new partnership with the arts and cultural sector in the Amber Valley. Connecting people with art and nature has huge benefits for happiness and wellbeing, and yet we are more disconnected than ever before.  We already work with many people and communities across the region and we are delighted that this exciting new initiative will enable and empower many more people to get involved in improving this beautiful and historic area for both people and wildlife.”

Lynn McCree, Chief Executive of Amber Valley CVS, added: “It will be great for communities and existing community groups to be able to plan new and extended activity in Amber Valley as a result of this funding.”

Creative People and Places focuses on parts of the country where involvement in arts and culture is significantly below the national average. It provides National Lottery funding to groups of local organisations, or consortia, who work together to bring creative opportunities to the lives of people who live in that place. What makes Creative People and Places unique, is that the arts activity driven by these groups, is designed by, for and with people from the community. 

Samantha Whelan, Director at Platform Thirty1, said: “The purpose behind Creative People and Places for the residents and communities it serves has strong synergy with our work, and building on our experience of collaborating with cross-sector and locally-rooted organisations, we know this partnership has potential to do great things. We want to influence, coach, question, challenge and use experience to facilitate growth, development and change in the cultural lives of people and communities in Amber Valley.”

Once arrangements with Arts Council England have been formalised, the consortium will be reaching out to communities within Amber Valley to engage them in initial discussions around what they’d like to see being developed as part of the project.