Regeneration scheme in unique link up with Arts Council England

(19th October 2007)

The North Solihull Partnership has formed an alliance with Arts Council England to look at how best to ensure public art becomes a key feature of its 15 year regeneration programme.

The link has seen a coordinator from Arts Council West Midlands Explore programme run a workshop session with the North Solihull Partnership partners on how to take art in regeneration forward.  Explore is now producing a report with recommendations and a guide to levering further arts funding.

The total value of the workshop - which was offered free of charge to the Partnership and is the first of 12 regional projects being targeted by the initiative - is around £4,500. This will certainly be money well spent if it leads to a cohesive arts programme for Regenerating North Solihull, according to Ian Banks from Explore.

He said: "The West Midlands and more specifically North Solihull has a wealth of artistic expertise held by individuals working independently or within a variety of organisations. However, there is a gap that separates large capital projects like the Regenerating North Solihull scheme and the creative input of artists and other professionals, and that is where we come in.

"Public art is certainly valued on schemes of this nature and scale, but often it comes as an afterthought and so limits the scope of what can be achieved. What we are trying to promote is a more integrated arts policy so that every medium of the arts, be it physical installations, film, light, sound or workshops to name but a few are given due consideration at the early stages of this community-led regeneration scheme.

"With the Explore initiative, we are looking to promote arts provision within Regenerating North Solihull and other similar projects by building better relationships between commissioners and artists, improving the collaboration and commissioning process, and creating more choice and opportunity for innovative commissioning."

The Regenerating North Solihull project is being driven by the North Solihull Partnership, a consortium made up of Solihull Council, Bellway Homes, registered social landlord Whitefriars Housing Group and regeneration specialists Inpartnership.

The £1.8 billion project will see the wards of Chelmsley Wood, Smith's Wood and Kingshurst & Fordbridge transformed over the next 15 years with the construction of 8,000 new homes, the upgrading of 12,500 more, the creation of five new village centres with improved transport links and the replacement of every primary school.

Janet Bradbury, Chief Executive of the North Solihull Partnership, said: "The 15 year goal of the Regenerating North Solihull project is not only to make physical improvements to the area's housing and infrastructure but also to improve opportunities and raise the aspirations of the local community and art undoubtedly has a role to play in this process.

"What we have already discovered during the early stages of this project is that there is a host of untapped artistic talent in North Solihull eager to get involved, and numerous opportunities where art could play a significant part in achieving our objectives. We are delighted to be the first regeneration project to be working with Arts Council's Explore team, as they have really helped us to focus on this vitally important aspect of regeneration."                                                               


Press release drafted by Alun Thorne. For more details contact Core Marketing, 0121 643 8151.