Exciting new arts project comes to Chelmsford

Chelmsford artist Victoria Button is launching an exciting new project to bring free creative workshops, a public art installation and school learning resources to the City. The project, funded by the Arts Council, aims to inspire young people to explore ideas about inequality and isolation in a positive and creative way. 

Six local artists and creatives will collaborate with local schools, the Chelmsford Poetry Circle and the Meadows Shopping Centre to bring this dynamic arts project to the City, based on the theme “Cut-out”. Victoria says this can be interpreted freely, for example involving ideas of social exclusion or injustice, or the sense of isolation so many of us have felt during the months of Covid lockdowns. 

Two entirely free combined arts programmes, incorporating filmmaking, music, dance, animation and poetry are being offered to local children. The 20-hour workshops, one for ages 8-10 and the other for ages 11-13, which would usually cost £250 per person, will take place in Melbourne in May and June 2021.  Anyone aged 8-13 can apply for a space, though those eligible for free school meals who live in Melbourne will be prioritised. 

Victoria says: 

“I’m thrilled to have received funding from the Arts Council to work with some fantastic artists, I believe the project will be an educational and cultural gem for many people, but especially the young people who will be involved across Chelmsford.”

The funding will also allow a three-metre-wide dome featuring local artwork and poetry to be installed in the centre of the Meadows Shopping Centre. Anyone living in Chelmsford is encouraged to submit a poem inspired by the “Cut-out” theme by April 12th, when the structure is due to be put on display. However, poems can be added even after the installation is unveiled. The organisers are particularly interested in receiving submissions of “concrete” poems – visually striking works which could be written inside a particular shape or symbol. 

Among the local artists involved in this ambitious project are dance artist Anna-Louise McMinn, Repeat Beat Poet Peter Johnson, poet and activist Kelli-Marie Sellwood, musician Chris Adam, artist and crafter Heather Rainbird, and award-winning filmmaker Rehmat Rayatt. Rehmat says: 

“It’s important for me that young people from all backgrounds have access to the arts. As well as learning new skills, engaging with the arts can encourage different ways of seeing the world – and importantly, tools and techniques to support our mental health through self-expression and self-reflection”.

Local schools will also offer specially devised resources for Key Stages 2 and 3 to explore, focussing on poetry, self-expression, and history. In particular, children will be encouraged to explore the life and work of local campaigner Anne Knight, born in Chelmsford in 1786. Anne, a grocer’s daughter, devoted her life to fighting for the abolition of slavery and equal rights for women. To contribute to the Meadows art installation, please submit your poem to Victoria Button by emailing victoria@artimate.com by April 12th. Applications for the 20-hour workshops can be made by visiting www.artimate.co.uk or by emailing Victoria directly.