A little over two years ago, Sarah & I were sitting in the cafe at the Mac. We had arranged to meet up on our shared day off from the school we both work at as art teachers, to do some planning for a forthcoming community art project we were organising for school. We had been fortunate enough to have found several opportunities in the previous couple of years to help our students engage with artists and the community around them, though Longbridge Public Art Project and other organisations.
Over the next few weeks we met lots of people from organisations around Stirchley. We felt it was the place to be - so much going on already within an established creative scene. We chatted to Johnny from Artefact, Cassie from Sweetmeat, Denise and David at the library, and basically popped in to say hello to as many of the shops and organisations as we could, also on the lookout for a possible base for our future exploits. We started applying for funding and teamed up with the lovely Friends of Stirchley Library to do various family art activities. And then later that summer we made the first of several successful funding bids to support our community art aims - Book Arts at Stirchley Library, funded by Arts Council England.
We look forward with optimism to the next 12 months - and beyond - getting back to ‘normal’, getting back into the Library, making progress with our plans to establish a permanent base for Stirchley Art Room, and a variety of other exciting projects!
Onwards and upwards. More Art Not Less!
With huge thanks to all of our friends, partners and supporters, and to our funders: Arts Council England Unltd Postcode Community Trust National Lottery Communities Fund Birmingham City Council DCMS / National Lottery Local Connections Fund
Both of us hugely enjoyed these experiences. Both of us wished that we could do more to take our experience and knowledge as art teachers to a community setting, independent of the restrictions of school life. And just like that, almost on a whim, Stirchley Art Room came into being. We registered a twitter handle there and then, and started to plan.
Two years and many projects later, we feel proud of what we have achieved, and so appreciative of the supportive and collaborative relationships we have with organisations and individuals in Stirchley and further afield.
Of course, the past 12 months have not panned out exactly as we would have hoped. The pandemic curtailed some of our projects and has delayed others, but also led to new and interesting ways of delivering on our aims, in the form of the three postal art projects we have run over the past year. The resulting books of artworks made by members of our community are beautiful and unique records of these very unusual times.