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Liz Hingley Photography Exhibition

We are delighted to present Home Made in Smethwick, an exhibition of photographs by local photographer Liz Hingley, which will tour to six Sandwell libraries. Liz worked with residents for two years to create an intimate photographic portrait of the people and the food cooked in Smethwick in the Black Country, one of the most culturally diverse towns in the UK. A book of the work was published in August 2016 but this is the first time an exhibition of photographs has been exhibited publicly.

The launch event was in January 2017, at Smethwick Library but at the start of each leg of the tour there will be a special afternoon preview with the chance to see the work and taste homemade bread from Albert, a project participant.

We are delighted to present Home Made in Smethwick, an exhibition of photographs by local photographer Liz Hingley, which will come to Tipton Library from 13 April to 12 May 2017.

Liz has worked with residents for the last two years to create an intimate photographic portrait of the people and the food cooked in Smethwick in the Black Country, one of the most culturally diverse towns in the UK. A book of the work was published in August 2016 but this is the first time an exhibition of photographs has been exhibited publicly.

The exhibition will be at Tipton Library, Unity Walk, Owen Street, Tipton, DY4 8QL until Friday 12th May.

This event is part of a series of special exhibitions and film screenings brought to you by Multistory and Sandwell libraries.

Free entrance – no ticket required.

Tour Schedule:
Blackheath Library (0121 559 1884) 15 May – 9 June
Central Library, West Bromwich (0121 569 4904) 12 June – 10 July

Open Access Round 8 Open!

The Open Access Award supports activities that build audiences and promote artistic excellence in the Black Country. Whether you’re a professional artist, performer or community group who have never experienced an arts activity before, this could be for you.

Open Access is open to individuals, groups and organisations to apply but project activity must take place within Sandwell, Walsall or Wolverhampton. Open Access is a flexible award to support the seed of a great idea through to the growth of a great project. If it builds audiences, connects local people with professional artists and brings great performance, art and creativity to the Black Country, open access could help you make it happen.

There are three levels of awards:
Seed (up to £500)
Grassroots (up to £2,000)
Growth (up to £4,000)

Deadline for applications is Friday 21 April at 5pm.

Creative Black Country has two exciting Landmark projects in the pipeline for this year and we’re looking for Open Access applications which can align activity with upcoming Landmark events.

Funny Things 
A celebration of Black Country humour and comedy. We are currently developing a comedy festival in Wolverhampton which will take place from mid October to early November 2017. You can programme events, create events or develop some activity related to comedy as part of the festival. Please contact Funny Things Producer Jenny Smith at if you would like more information or discuss an idea.

For more information on this opportunity click here.



Commissions Callout for 100 Masters and Funny Things

Creative Black Country are seeking to commission artists (open to all art forms) to collaborate with them and the communities they are working with to deliver their two Landmark projects; 100 Masters and Funny Things.

100 Masters
This project aims to discover and profile Black Country experts of today through public nomination. This means one hundred talented, skilled, and pioneering people who are living, working or connected to the area will be profiled through a creative media campaign.

You can invite someone you consider a master to put on some expert talks, you might want to organise an event to celebrate a local master or you might want to go and see or meet one of your masters!

For Commission information click here.

Please contact 100 Masters Producer Liam Smyth at if you would like more information or discuss an idea.

Funny Things
A celebration of Black Country humour and comedy. Creative Black Country are currently developing a comedy festival in Wolverhampton which will take place from 26th October to 5th November 2017. You can programme events, create events or develop some activity related to comedy as part of the festival.

For Commission information click here.

Please contact Funny Things Producer Jenny Smith at if you would like more information or discuss an idea.

Deadline for proposals for both projects is Thursday 20th April 2017 and we will respond to shortlisted proposals by 28th April 2017.

Event reminder: FUNNY THINGS Open Meeting Invitation on Thursday 6th April, 6pm -7:30pm at Wolverhampton Art Gallery.

Come along to find out more the FUNNY THINGS and discuss how you could get involved, to help us make the first comedy festival in Wolverhampton a success.

RSVP by 31st March 2017 to

Nominations Wanted for 100 Masters

100 Masters is a new campaign produced by Creative Black Country that aims to identify contemporary skilled people from the region and help inspire future talent. The public are being asked to have their say and nominate someone they know who is brilliant at what they do. No achievement is too big or small; maybe your neighbour bakes the best bread you’ve ever tasted, or your local landlord brews the best beer?

Did you know that a West Bromwich cactus-breeder has received gold at RHS Chelsea for the last seven successive years? What about the Dudley-born fashion illustrator who counts RnB star Rihanna and the Kardashians as her fans? Heard about the Wolverhampton lecturer who has won an unprecedented international accolade for his pioneering research into the medical uses of sugar? Only last year at the Edinburgh Fringe, a care worker from Sandwell beat 14 professional comedians to win the ‘Joke of the year 2016’.

The Black Country was forged at the hands of men and women from all walks of life who honed their skills to the highest levels. It was through their craftsmanship and diligence that the region became renowned as the industrial heartland of the UK, and while we successfully recognise our great industrial heritage, we believe it is time to represent the present-day masters who have been making tremendous strides.

Creative Black Country know there are more stories out there of local people receiving attention and accolades for their work and they want to find and promote these individuals. The project is open to ideas of noteworthy people who have forged their own path and displayed outstanding ability that has influenced others in their field.

A master can be from any walk of life and there are no restrictions in specialism but they must have either been born, educated, lived or worked in Sandwell, Walsall, Dudley or Wolverhampton for a significant period of time.

Do you know someone that deserves to be recognised for their passion and commitment? Then you can nominate them here.

About the Masters
-West Bromwich cactus breeder – Stan Griffin
-Dudley born fashion illustrator – Elizabeth Ilsley
-Award winning Wolverhampton lecturer – Moses Murandu
-‘Joke of the year 2016’ winner from Sandwell – Masai Graham

See the current Masters here.

mARTch – Celebrating Art, Culture and Creativity

A month-long roadshow of workshops and sessions to get artists of all ages being creative and talking about the future of the arts is coming to Sandwell.

‘mARTch’ – art in March – will give artists, dancers, photographers, poets and writers the chance to tell the council what more can be done to help them.

They will also be able to add their own creativity to a piece of community art, which will go on display later this year.

Family-friendly workshops and consultation events are planned for all six towns throughout March.

Councillor Richard Marshall, Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for leisure, said: “mARTch is a great opportunity for local artists – whatever their talent – to get involved in shaping the future of arts in Sandwell.

“We want to know what more we can do as a council to help creative people and groups.

“As well as giving their views, artists can help us create a really special piece of community art, building on the success of the Ceramic Garden project last year.

“I would encourage all local artists – and anyone who’s interested in getting creative – to join one of our upcoming, family-friendly workshops.”

During the workshops, artists can decorate a white tile (6×6 inches) which will be mounted alongside other tiles from their town.
They’ll also have chance to glaze a ceramic flower for the Ceramic Garden, which is going on display at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Malvern Show in May.

Events announced so far:
• Saturday 18 March, 10am-4pm, Oak House Museum, West Bromwich (workshop runs 11am-3pm)
• Sunday 19 March, 10am-4pm, Haden Hill House, Cradley Heath (workshop runs 11am-3pm)
• Wednesday 22 March, 4pm-8pm, Coneygre Youth Arts Centre, Tipton (workshop runs 4.30pm-7.30pm)
• Thursday 23 March, 10am-4pm, Wednesbury Museum and Art Gallery (workshop runs 11am-3pm)
• Saturday 25 March, 10am-4pm, Oldbury Library (workshop runs 11am-3pm)

More venues will be confirmed soon.

For more information, contact Alex Howell the Arts and Projects Officer by email by phone on 07827 305 784.

GAP Centre Presents DIY Drive-In

The GAP Centre, West Bromwich has secured funds from Creative Black Country to present their DIY Drive-In Cinema event. This is a family friendly event where children use recycled materials and cardboard boxes to design and build their own kid-sized cars before settling down to an afternoon of short family films.

The Gap Centre would like to invite you to their family friendly event taking place on:

Saturday 25th March 2017 from 2-5pm at the GAP Centre, Hargate Lane, West Bromwich, B71 1PH.

Light refreshments will be available.

To book your tickets (priced at £10 per family – 2 x adults and 2 x children) or to find out more about this exciting opportunity please email

Music, Laughs, Films and Scares at West Bromwich Central Library

Music, comedy and tales of horror are on the agenda this month and library staff are urging everyone to visit and catch the buzz at Central Library, West Bromwich.

The programme of entertainment commenced on 3rd March 2017 with the Tom Heyes a young rising musical star who performed a selection of popular songs by Frank Sinatra, Elvis and Dean Martin.

On Saturday 18 March there will be scares aplenty when popular local historian and author Ian Bott will be telling entertaining but chilling tales of the ‘Haunted Black Country’.

Barbara Nice the Queen of Comedy, star of Phoenix Nights, will be bringing her own brand of mirth and happiness on Wednesday 22 March when she performs alongside local comedian Lovedev Barpaga who was recently crowned UK Pun Champion. A feel good night is assured so don’t miss the opportunity to see a legendary performer in an intimate library setting.

The programme concludes on Friday 24 March when you are invited to enjoy the songs and silliness of the Victorian and Edwardian Music Hall with an appearance by the Daring Young Men, Andy Casserley and Chris Lowe.

Councillor Richard Marshall, Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for leisure, said: “There really is something for everyone this month at West Bromwich Central Library.

“Whether it’s songs of the popular music greats, classic Hitchcock suspense, Black Country ghost stories, Phoenix Nights-style comedy or the variety of the music-hall, we’ve got it all.

Tickets for all these events are priced at £3 and can be reserved/booked at the Central Library. Barbara Nice’s performance on Wednesday 22 March begins at 7.30pm whereas all other performances will start at 7pm.

Book early to avoid disappointment!

Memories of Bearwood

Remember Bearwood a while back? Then why not participate in We afree ‘Storycrafting’ Workshop.

If you’re over 50 and you’re free on Wednesday 8th March 2017 between 3-5pm then why not come and help us to shape the story that will be the basis of the Bearwood Street Festival on 11 June 2017.

The lovely people from Highly Sprung Theatre Company will be at Hagley Road Village, Hagley Road, Birmingham, B67 5NQ and would love to meet you.

Your memories and stories will build on last year’s creative dreaming events and help shape our festival. Come and tell us what Bearwoodian life was like a while back!

Refreshments provided.

To book your place or find out more about this event please email as soon as possible.

Sport England Launches Potentials Fund (England)

Sport England’s new strategy for volunteering, Volunteering in an Active Nation, sets out their plans to allow more people to engage in all types of volunteering through sport and physical activity.

Sport England aim is to enable people from all walks of life to enjoy the benefits of volunteering in sport and physical activity – whatever their background, age or interests. And they want to make the experience as appealing and rewarding as possible for everyone.

Download their investment guide and separate insight guide for volunteering from their website by clicking here.

Opportunity Fund

Sport England’s Opportunity Fund aims to get people from in economically disadvantaged communities to volunteer.

We want to invest in projects that benefit people facing disadvantage as a result of the community they live in – and that allow them to make a positive contribution to those communities. These could range from inner-city areas with high levels of crime and social exclusion to remote rural areas with few services.

Organisations that can demonstrate their ability to deliver quality volunteering opportunities have until the 24th April 2017 to apply to Sport England’s new Potentials Fund.

Grants of up to £50,000 per year for a maximum of three years are available for projects that target young people who are interested in undertaking social actions such as volunteering. The Potentials fund aims to create opportunities that get people helping others from an early age and is particularly interested in projects which can engage 10-14 year olds. The aim is to use social action in sport as a way to support young people who are struggling with issues like bullying, social isolation, anxiety and low self-esteem.

Potentials Fund

Sport England want to create opportunities that get people helping others from an early age. Many of those who take part in social action regularly started when they were as young as 10.

Sport attracts many young people and can provide a springboard to social action. Just over half of young people prefer sport to any other volunteering pastimes.

They’re keen to test bold new approaches with their Potentials Fund to get young people involved in social action that includes sport and physical activity – especially those who might not have been involved in sport before.

Complete an expression of interest form as part of Sport England’s assessment process for determining which organisations and project ideas will be invited to submit a full application for further consideration by them.

Remember they don’t need a fully worked up project at this point but you will need to be able to work up a full application within eight weeks if your project is invited to the second stage of the application progress.

To find out more about these funding opportunities please click here.

‘This Has To Work’: Last Chance For Charities To Clean Up Fundraising

If self-regulation by charities of fundraising is in the last-chance saloon, as we are often told, they are cautiously ordering another round.

From April, the Institute of Fundraising (IoF) plans to introduce an accreditation scheme to vouch for the training and behaviour of fundraisers employed by the biggest charities and agencies.

“Absolutely this has to work,” acknowledges Peter Hills-Jones, the IoF’s director of compliance. “Because if it doesn’t, the public and the government aren’t going to have any more patience.”

His remarks signals the awareness that charities have jeopardised, if not necessarily lost, a great deal of goodwill as a result of recent revelations about questionable fundraising practices. Some regulatory changes have been made, but the sector is very much on probation and risks more draconian intervention if it fails to show that it has put its house in order.

Hills-Jones believes people feel strongly protective of long-established charities and are passionate about any damage to the causes they promote.

“If we can turn that passion into convincing people we have changed, then the British people are nothing if not fair-minded and will give [us] a second chance,” he says.

The new accreditation scheme is expected to apply to 15 big charities with their own in-house fundraising teams and 25 fundraising agencies that work on behalf of other charities. It will cover telephone and street fundraising, including on private sites such as shopping malls and railway stations.

Accreditation will comprise an initial desktop exercise, observation of training and public engagement and, following a decision, any remedial work judged necessary to win approval.

The IoF does not intend to name and shame any charity or agency that fails the assessment, but to publish a list of those accredited successfully so that the public, or, more pertinently, says Hills-Jones, journalists and others with knowledge of the sector, will be able to identify any charities trading without the institute’s stamp of approval. Hills-Jones considers it “almost inconceivable” that any board of trustees of a larger charity would sign off a contract with a fundraising agency that was not accredited.

To read the full Guardian article click here.

From: The Guardian – Voluntary Sector Network

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