Chiswick House reveals 'creative campus' plans

05 Mar 2024

Chiswick House & Gardens Trust (CHGT) has unveiled plans to create a new learning hub with facilities to support 200 volunteers and artists’ studios.

The project aims to address the charity’s long-term viability and will also work with local residents to turn an unused outdoor space into a fruit garden.

CHGT said creating its new "campus”, Cedar Yards, will support the growth and accessibility of its volunteering and community activity. The addition of affordable workspaces for up to 100 artists and makers will also offer a new source of income for the trust.

So far, a third of the project cost has been raised, underpinned by funding from London Borough of Hounslow through Strategic Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) grants and funds from the Thriving Communities and Creative Enterprise Zone Grants. The rest of the funds are being raised from charitable and private sources.

Xanthe Arvanitakis, Director of Chiswick House and Gardens Trust, said: “This ambitious project has been designed to directly impact the wellbeing of our local community as well as enhancing cultural and creative enterprise activity in London Borough of Hounslow.

"By creating more public green spaces for local people, we can expand our learning and community programme, which is currently running at capacity. With the introduction of affordable workspaces for artists and makers, we will foster a local creative economy and generate much-needed new income for the trust.”

Theatre faces criticism for going cashless

29 Jan 2024

The Plaza Theatre in Romsey, Hampshire has defended its decision to go cashless after receiving criticism on social media. They will be card only from 31 March. 

Neil Gwynne, Chair of Romsey Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society which runs the volunteer-led venue, said it was the right decision for the theatre’s long-term future.

“We made the decision because the overwhelming majority pay by card anyway, they have done ever since Covid," he said.

“There are a number of purchase points where we have to have a supply of cash which then has to be counted before and after every performance by our volunteers. 

"It’s a lot more work than people actually realise. Volunteer time is not limitless, so any way in which we can reduce the demand on the time of our volunteers is something we look out for."

Volunteers enlist to keep arts centre open

Exterior of Artrix Art Centre, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire
02 Jan 2024

Bromsgrove venue that temporarily reopened to host shows from a theatre forced to close will continue to operate with help of community volunteers.

Arts charity for vulnerable people to close

01 Nov 2023

An arts charity which helps children and vulnerable people has announced that it will close due to financial pressures and falling volunteer numbers.

The Bridge Centre for Visual Arts (The Bridge) in Darlington said it will close permanently on 31 March 2024.

"The last few years have been challenging ones, as they have been for many charities," a statement issued by the charity said.

"Even with financial support from various grants provided, the current income falls well short of the core costs of operating The Bridge. As a registered charity, the Trustees would be irresponsible to knowingly let the charity run into bankruptcy."

The statement added that a "rapidly dwindling" number of volunteers able to give the time and effort needed to keep The Bridge in operation was also a consideration in the decision. 

"The few remaining were finding it an increasing burden and, for a variety of understandable reasons, are unable to increase that personal support," it said.

Heritage sector ‘over reliant’ on volunteers, survey suggests

a tour guide speaks to an audience in a town square
03 May 2023

Dependence on volunteers is found to be highest in organisations with lower turnover, although issues of attracting volunteers from varied backgrounds appear widespread.

Historic hospital secures £4.9m for restoration work

11 Jan 2023

The National Lottery Heritage Fund has awarded £4.9m for the restoration of historic buildings at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London.

The work, which will be overseen by Barts Heritage will focus on conservation of the Great Hall and the Hogarth Stair, a staircase featuring two seven-foot-high canvasses painted by William Hogarth, depicting stories from the Bible.

The paintings require specialist cleaning and conservation, and the hall is also set to undergo extensive restoration work, including the repair and strengthening of the timber staircase and conservation work on an 18th Century chandelier. 

“We’re thrilled that our funding will be used to conserve these unique examples of Hogarth’s work and revitalise the stunning stair Hall for more and more people to appreciate and enjoy when visiting the historic buildings,” said Eilish McGuinness, Chief Executive at The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The project includes an outreach component via a programme offering cultural and educational activities such as therapeutic artmaking courses, sensory heritage walking tours and mindfulness activities. 

Young people interested in heritage conservation can apply for placements, apprenticeships and volunteering roles.

Will Palin, Chief Executive of Barts Heritage said the project combines “the much-needed restoration of the one of the most important historic hospital buildings in the UK with a pioneering heritage and health programme”. 

“We are thrilled to have secured this transformative grant from the Heritage Fund and look forward to welcoming the public both during restoration works and after the project is complete,” he said.

Mass gift-making as a shared symbolic act

20 Jul 2022

With athletes about to arrive in Birmingham for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, a mass gift-making initiative has been underway to welcome them. Deirdre Figueiredo led the project.

Inclusivity drive for independent music venues launches

People at a music venue
19 Jul 2022

Independent music venues will be encouraged to form a national network offering daytime programmes of music-based activities to engage with diverse audiences.

£3.9m for cultural volunteering

14 Apr 2022

About £3.9m has been awarded to increase volunteering opportunities in the sector.

Arts and culture organisations received most of the grants distributed by Arts Council England from the £4.6m Volunteering Futures Fund on Wednesday (April 13).

Beneficiaries included Bureau Centre for the Arts in Blackburn and Darwen, which will roll out a new two-year volunteering programme, Redcar's Festival of Thrift, which plans to collaborate with 12 partners on volunteer recruitment, and a consortia of local organisations led by Barnsley Museums.

The 19 lead organisations being funded are expected to work with more than 160 partners.

Just two grants have gone to London-based organisations, with eight given to awardees in the North of England.


Fringe Festival volunteering ‘leans into ableism’

a crowd gathers at Edinburgh Fringe Festival
23 Feb 2022

Allegations of discriminatory practices ignite calls for the festival to adopt new principles to tackle inequalities. 

LEEDS 2023: levelling up in action

panoramic overhead view of Leeds city centre
09 Feb 2022

Since Britain’s exit from Europe, we have no longer been able to compete for European Capital of Culture. But, as Kully Thiarai writes, Leeds decided to do it anyway. 

Volunteering as a route into work

performer speaks to children
22 Sep 2021

Without volunteering, many organisations in the cultural sector simply couldn’t operate. But it can also act as a route for people to move into paid work, writes Jane Ide.

Creative Lives: recognising exceptional people

Group of men performing music
22 Jun 2021

After thirty years at the frontline of grassroots creativity, Voluntary Arts has relaunched as Creative Lives. David Bryan reflects on the work of the organisation to date and the role everyday creativity will increasingly play in post-pandemic life.

Volunteers keep creativity alive

A group of people working on floral displays
02 Feb 2021

The creative activity that thrives in everyday society is often the most overlooked and unsupported, writes Robin Simpson. Here’s how you can help.

The win-win-win of volunteering

the bare arms of a group of mixed-race people stretching out hands on top of each other in a circle
14 May 2020

Define. Diversify. Develop. This 3-D approach to working with volunteers will ensure that your volunteer programme adds value for everyone involved, says Lucie Fitton.

Covid-19: Charities face £4bn 'black hole'

31 Mar 2020

Thousands of arts, culture and heritage charities improve communities, wellbeing and isolation – "functions that are particularly important during this crisis".

Creative conversations to start the day

Person using iPad
26 Mar 2020

How do you keep connected in our Covid-19 world? #CreativeNetwork is a chance to talk about creative responses to enforced separation – and drink coffee together. Jemma Neville explains. 

Sector victory as council pulls ad for 'volunteer community artist'

13 Feb 2020

Wiltshire Council says it now knows asking for experienced, skilled and pre-vetted volunteers “was not the right approach”. 

Without help, without permission

A photo of Pride of Princes, an interactive performance
12 Jun 2019

A perpetual, community-led art project is transforming neighbourhoods in Exeter, street by street. JoJo Spinks explains why handing control of commissioning to local people has been crucial to its success.

Improving the volunteer experience

A photo of a volunteer in the research room at The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre
30 May 2019

How can arts organisations best nurture a thriving and committed community of volunteers? Robin Hall shares her experience of gaining accreditation from the Investing in Volunteers standard.


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