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OUTSIDE community arts project welcomes new Director and a grant of almost £1m from Arts Council Eng

OUTSIDE, a major new arts project in the Staffordshire Moorlands, has announced the appointment of a new Creative Director to lead this flagship programme that promises to invite communities to shape and create local, national and international arts and culture across the district.

Outside’s new Creative Director, Sarah Bird, joins the project from Wild Rumpus, a Cheshire-based organisation, bringing with her a wealth of experience delivering award-winning arts festivals and events across the UK and internationally.

Sarah says, ‘I’m phenomenally excited and privileged to have this opportunity to work with the people of the Staffordshire Moorlands, to help bring about a programme of creative activities that will inspire us, bring us together and teach us about ourselves and the world around us. I sincerely believe in the power of arts and culture to enrich lives and move people in profound ways wherever they are – and I’m really excited about working with the brilliant artists in the area as well as inviting world-renowned artists to join us.’

The project, initiated by a partnership of four organisations led by local charity Support Staffordshire and including Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, Buxton and Leek College and Stoke-based arts charity B arts, has been made possible through a major grant from Arts Council England, through its Creative People and Places programme. This focuses on areas of England where involvement in arts and culture is below the national average.

Thanks to National Lottery ticket purchases, Arts Council England is investing £38.3 million into this programme during 2022-25, supporting 39 projects in 56 local authority areas across England. Staffordshire Moorlands is one of 11 areas entirely new to Creative People and Places, following the great success of existing projects. It is a truly prestigious award for the district which will see over £1.2m spent over a 3 year period.

Garry Jones Chief Executive of Support Staffordshire said "This ambitious and game changing programme will take the unique landscape and cultures of the Staffordshire Moorlands, working with its communities and bringing excellent and exciting artists of all kinds together, to produce educational, inspirational and thought-provoking art to the heart of rural Staffordshire”

OUTSIDE aims to encourage the people of the Staffordshire Moorlands to look at their place with fresh eyes. Councillor Keith Flunder, Cabinet member with responsibility for arts and culture at Staffordshire Moorlands District Council said: “The arts enhance individuals, communities and our shared public spaces so this is an exciting initiative which I hope people across the district will get involved in. I look forward to seeing the development and implementation of creative works which will animate our spaces and create a renewed sense of civic pride for everyone who lives in, works in and visits the Moorlands.”

Susan Clarke from B Arts said ‘We look forward to supporting the work with communities that will bring extraordinary and inspirational arts to the towns, villages and wild open spaces of the Staffordshire Moorlands’.

Young people will be right at the heart of OUTSIDE and Claire Poole, Vice-Principle of Buxton and Leek College said, “This is a fantastic project and Buxton and Leek College, with their long association with the arts are excited to be collaborative partner and to welcome Sarah on board"

A short series of initial taster workshops has already begun across the district and continues through November. Look out for the Outside stall at the Autumn Fayre at the Salvation Army Hall in Leek on Saturday 5thNovember, and Outside taster workshops at Biddulph Youth and Community Zone on Saturday 12th November,12-2pm, and at Cheadle Library on Saturday 26th November, 12.30-2.30pm.

Sarah encourages readers, “If you are even just a tiny bit curious, do come along to one of these events.”

Alternatively to find out more you can email or speak to Sarah’s colleague Esther Jones on 07531 711388, and be added to the mailing list to receive updates about the project.


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