The City of Kirklees has launched a place based cultural development running from 2018 until 2023 which is dealing with public spaces and community engagement through arts and culture. It aims to deliver district wide cultural initiatives, rooted in place that engages with all the towns and villages. There are two large programmes: WOVEN, a textile festival, and the Year of Music 2023, an initiative to deliver transformational place-based system change in line with the regional year of cultural celebration.
WOVEN is a new festival for Kirklees that was piloted in June 2019. The festival celebrated the district’s globally recognised industry from the past, present and future. As a new model of festival delivery for Kirklees, it marks an exciting step forward. Benefiting 18,695 residents, 27 industries and 16 cultural organisations formed a partnership to celebrate and educate.
Year of Music activity has just begun; however, in the first year the action has already established:
· A leadership group
· Political buy in and support
· Key partners bought into the agenda
· Network of sub groups rooted in the community – classical, festivals, venues, education and health
· A new brand and identity – launched 7th Nov
· Audit of all assets
· Baseline of activity
· Economic impact showing 3 music festivals had £2.2m return to the community
· Capacity increase through levered inward investment
Regarding the evaluation of the action in its first-year WOVEN, the textile festival, has achieved to deliver over 100 events over 9 days across the district. More than 2,474 people participated in WOVEN activity, with 157 official volunteer hours (stewarding etc.), about a third of events were run in a voluntary capacity. 18,695 people came to see and experience the WOVEN programme.
The programme has developed a new future delivery model for the festival to deliver and put the foundations in places to ensure it is future-ready. An active and dynamic online web and social media presence has also been developed, including the WOVEN brand and identity that celebrated the towns and villages of Kirklees - www.woveninkirklees.co.uk. To highlight the impact of the project 150 children took to the catwalk with 476 children taking part in artists workshops and 103 students took part in the careers event with 14 textile businesses. Finally, the average WOVEN visitor spend was £40 – boosting the local economy.
Beneficial outcomes for partners was high as a direct result of their involvement in the festival. This was largely around the opportunity to establish connections and generally network with other individuals and organisations across the district – some of whom they had not come across before.
A number of partners said their experience had directly affected their operations or service offering, including:
• Implementing strategies to appeal to local young people in order to increase levels of participation and interest in textiles;
• Greater interest in co-curation;
• Reinforced a commitment to community events such as Woven;
• Increasing the number of open days & workshops
The legacy of this partnership will be to grow as equals, developing the next edition of WOVEN in 2021, whilst maintaining activity for residents in 2020.
The Year of Music evaluation is currently being developed, through a holistic approach to baselining activity against what ambitions are.
In both approaches, the city works with a diverse range of organisations from the University of Huddersfield, the range of schools and colleges in the district. It is also working with a variety of businesses and commercial organisations where relevant to the project – this can be forming a textile manufacturer to a small music venue or record label, from registered charity cultural organisations such as theatre companies to community-led voluntary run arts groups and lastly individual artists, musicians, and residents of Kirklees.
Investment in terms of time and commitment from across all partners have been realised. Commercial businesses have invested in both programmes, from delivering training, opening their business’s premises, to cash contributions to projects.
The city also works very closely with the University of Huddersfield as a strategic partner, this is both in terms of partnership delivery of the Year of Music posts funded through the Leeds City Region, hosted by the University and reporting the Council on behalf of the community. To the programming and delivery of Temporary Contemporary, a gallery space within the indoor market.
The policies that describe and underpin the new approach and methodology of working with and not doing to, in order to enable the culture of others to emerge, grow, and thrive within sustainable frameworks: