North Yorkshire County Council’s library service has won a boost of almost £100,000 from Arts Council England to put artists into libraries to work with communities.
As part of a three-year Creative Residencies Programme, 24 artists from different creative backgrounds will be based in eight libraries to work with library users and other community members on a range of projects.
The inspiration for the initiative came from the North Yorkshire library service’s acclaimed, “Rewind!” project, that won the national “Libraries Change Lives” award in 2012. In this project, based in Skipton, young people were supported at the library by a professional musician to devise, fund-raise and stage their own gigs and events.
The Creative Residencies Programme will use libraries as a resource for people to explore the nature of their communities through the arts and their own creative potential with the help of of a professional artist.
The first year will see artists working in Eastfield near Scarborough and Ingleton in Craven. Years two and three will involve libraries in Pickering, Ryedale Sherburn, near Selby; Bilton and Woodfield near Harrogate; Stokesley in Hambleton and Leyburn and Catterick in Richmondshire.
The project is responding to the challenge put forward by Arts Council England in its report ‘Envisioning the Library of the Future’ which has called on libraries to be innovative and to use creativity as the driver for change.
As well as exploring different art forms, the project provides opportunities to examine the potential of digital technology and creative media and for both community participants and library staff to develop new skills.
The award of £99,693 from the Grants for the Arts Libraries Fund, will enable the library service to work with other partners including the county council’s Youth Support Service, North Yorkshire Music Action Zone, community organisations and town and parish councils.
The aim is to widen participation in artistic activity, raise the profile of libraries and engage with children, families and older people to develop intergenerational projects that will be fun and inspiring. The project will start in the New Year.
County Councillor Chris Metcalfe, Executive Member for Library and Community Services, said:
This is great news! The library team has done a brilliant job in securing funding for this exciting project. North Yorkshire’s libraries are at the heart of communities and are all about creating opportunities for people. I’m delighted that they are again taking an innovative approach to inspire people, widening horizons and ultimately improving people’s life chances.
Carl Clayton, Relationship Manager, Libraries, Arts Council England said:
Changing both the public and government perception of libraries and developing them as cultural hubs and creative spaces are keys to the future sustainability of libraries. This is an ambitious programme with a clear vision, offering participants a broad range of artistic activities with which they can engage. I’m delighted that the Arts Council is able to support it through our lottery funded Grants for the Arts programme.