New arts opportunities for cultural development
Stoke Creates, the Cultural Compact for Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire, has launched ‘CASCADE’, an initiative to support cultural development and participation across the city.
The initial three-year project has been funded by an £850,000 investment from Arts Council England, using money from the National Lottery, and will be delivered and supported by Stoke Creates partners, including New Vic Theatre, Appetite, British Ceramics Biennial, Urban Wilderness, B Arts, City Learning Trust, Partners in Creative Learning, Stoke and Staffordshire Local Cultural Education Partnership, Staffordshire University, Keele University, YMCA North Staffs, Stoke-on-Trent City Council, and Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce.
The CASCADE programme will see Stoke Creates partners establish four Cultural Action Zones animating the city’s high streets, with plans for more reaching beyond this funded period.
The first Cultural Action Zone is being formed in Longton, where partner organisation Urban Wilderness is already planning a calendar of arts development activities and events.
Isla Telford, Director at Urban Wilderness, said: “We are excited about what the Cultural Action Zone will mean for Longton. Our vision is place transformation, and our strategy includes large scale events, a regular Town Forum, an embedded Youth Forum, and ‘Wilder Connections’ – tackling climate crisis through bio-diversity engagement.”
CASCADE is one of a number of initiatives being led by Stoke Creates to ensure that the city region secures a proper share of any available regional, national, and international resources for arts and culture. Other initiatives include Stoke Creates Cultural Exchange, a regular open access forum for anyone involved in the arts in North Staffordshire, bespoke training and learning opportunities, activating investment from the network of philanthropists nurtured through Made in Stoke, an arts volunteering scheme, and new artform specific networks to support creatives and their ideas locally.
Professor David Amigoni, Keele University, Co-chair of Stoke Creates, said: “We are hugely excited to launch CASCADE. For Stoke Creates, our Cultural Compact, the project further realises the fact of our great city, Stoke-on-Trent, being a priority place of investment for Arts Council England. Working with all partners, CASCADE will bring tangible and lasting opportunities for younger people as well as everyone through arts-led regeneration.”
Professor Carola Boehm, Staffordshire University and Co-chair of Stoke Creates, added: “I am so delighted that we were awarded the funding for CASCADE, a large-scale, city-wide, 3-year-long initiative with co-creation and placemaking at its heart. Our region excels in participatory cultural practices, and this funding allows us to lean into this strength and, through the power of arts and creativity, make a huge difference to our places and communities. It is aptly called CASCADE, as we have plans to ensure that with this investment, we also cascade into the future a rich, lively, and creative legacy that will move us well into the next creative era of our culturally rich city.”
Peter Knott, Midlands Area Director, Arts Council England said: “We’re delighted to be investing £850,000, through our Place Partnership Fund, using money from the National Lottery, to support cultural activity and development in Stoke-on-Trent, so that more people can enjoy high quality creative and cultural experiences. The project will include the creation of four cultural action zones in Hanley, Longton, Stoke and Tunstall with many activities especially aimed at children and young people.
“The funding will bring together residents, community organisations, educational settings, children, young people and businesses to animate high streets, make lives richer, raise aspirations and encourage pride in the local community.”
Executive Director of Stoke Creates, Susan Clarke, said: “We are delighted with this significant investment into the arts sector from Arts Council England, and are delighted that it has enabled us to plan such an ambitious programme. Ultimately, CASCADE will provide support and benefits for everyone, wherever they are in the arts ecology. This is a really important legacy from our bid to be UK City of Culture back in 2021, and it feels right that through this partnership working we can put down roots for lasting change for everyone working and taking part in the arts here in the city and