As someone working in the arts in the city I’ve always been aware, and often involved, in Plymouth Arts Weekender (PAW); however, this year has been the most interesting so far as I have taken on a role within Horizon.  Horizon is a major two-year programme of visual arts festivals, events and exhibitions in Plymouth and PAW 2017 and 2018 is a big part of the project.

My role is Community Development Officer (which sounds very formal!) but basically means I am there to looks for ways to bring more people to arts events and projects and encourage new audiences to attend things like the Weekender.  I look at what is going on within our three main projects (We The People Are The Work, PAW and Atlantic Festival) and think about how people in the city might connect into this.  I also look outwards at the good projects and organisations within the city and see how they might work with aspects of Horizon; it’s a very complex but interesting!

Within this role, I’ve had the opportunity for the first time to see the inner workings of the wonderful machine that is Visual Arts Plymouth (VAP) that drives Plymouth Art Weekender.  I always had a sense of the huge amount of work that goes on to create PAW but had no idea about the level of expertise that helps support the various strands that bring the Weekender together.

I’ve been mostly working with Field Notes (the producing team that VAP selected to run PAW 17 and 18) and the outreach team- a number of VAP activators with a range of expertise in working with community, groups and schools.  Together we’ve been working to create a really cool programme of projects exploring new ways in which new audiences can be reached and have access to elements of the weekender.

With support from Horizon it has been possible for us to develop a range of outreach projects which will see art in unusual places, schools touring exhibition sites, performances popping-up on buses, assemblies, a film commission, community packs and creative workshops.  These elements will take place before, at, after AND in between PAW 17 and PAW 18, it is a really exciting time to take the opportunity to profile raise and develop the reach of PAW and I am really pleased to be able to work with Field Notes and VAP to develop this.

One of the most exciting things about developing the engagement programme is the potential for follow on and the continuation of the energy of PAW beyond the initial weekend.  I am excited to see who we reach out to, who feels inspired to do more and what connections we might make after PAW 2017.  If you are someone who feels particularly inspired or driven to develop new art projects with a community (geographical or a community of interest) then please do get in touch via-