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Our Commonwealth: People of Sandwell

We are delighted to announce our new Arts Council England and SMBC-funded project Our Commonwealth. The Living Memory Project is teaming up with Sandwell Advocacy to celebrate the rich diversity of Sandwell using story, photography and film and we want you to get involved.

To mark the staging of Commonwealth Games 2022, we will be creating a new photographic exhibition and an accompanying film to highlight the extraordinary contributions made by ordinary people across Sandwell who make it the rich and vibrant place it is today. In particular, we will be working with individuals and communities who have links to countries from across the globe.

What’s happening?

Photographer Anand Chhabra will work with 25 community-nominated participants to produce a series of contemporary portraits and recorded stories that will be exhibited at venues across Sandwell in May/June 2022

Filmmaker Joseph Potts will produce a new film with individuals and groups across Sandwell to explore themes of community, belonging and commonwealth.

A series of creative workshops with community groups and local schools to explore aspects of photography, family history and personal artefacts.

Call for nominations

We are looking for nominations for 25 individuals who have contributed to making Sandwell the warm and supportive place it is today. Their contributions could be in the area of family, caring, education, sports, the voluntary sector, health, the emergency and welfare services, or something else!

Do you know someone who you think should be recognised for who they are and what they do? You can nominate yourself!

What will happen

25 individuals will be selected from all the nominations who will be invited to have their portrait made with Anand and to record some of their life stories with the project team.

Do you know anyone who should be nominated?

Please view the website to completed a very simple form below or if you prefer, email –

U Island Touring Exhibition

U Island CIC and arts organisation Juneau Projects have been working with families from Russian speaking countries as well as Latvia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania and the UK to create imaginative sculptural birdhouses telling their stories of migration to Birmingham and the Black Country and sense of home.

The touring exhibition features five amazing exhibits that all have a unique story to discover, enjoy, share, and celebrate with others.

For more information please visit:

Thimblemill Library – Saturday 11th September, 10am – 4pm
Thimblemill Road, Smethwick B67 5RJ
0121 569 4943

(Please call the library in advance of attending to avoid disappointment, as Covid safety rules may affect access. Further information can be found here

Lightwoods Park and House – Saturday 18th – Sunday 19th September, 11am – 4.00pm
Adkins Lane, Bearwood, Smethwick, B67 5DP
0121 569 4141

Covid Safety Measures – Venues continue to ask you to wear a face covering inside their buildings and respect other people’s personal space. Please use the sanitisers provided on entrance and before exiting. Please check with venues and our social media channels as Covid safety rules are subject to change and may affect access.

This has been made possible thanks to Arts Council England, SCVO Vision 2030 Fund, Creative Black Country and Discover Sandwell.

Free Story telling Workshop on Zoom

Have you always wanted to tell stories and perform? Do you want to be part of the 2022 Commonwealth Games Cultural Festival? Would you like to write and give your words to another person to perform?

Join Jasmine Gardosi and Kuli Kohli from Deaf Explorer for a workshop about storytelling and performance. Find out about a brand new creative project that aims to be fully accessible, and bring people together

Tickets are free and no experience necessary – everyone is welcome.  This event will have a BSL interpreter

The date of workshop is Thursday, 17 June 2021, 6 pm – 7 pm, via Zoom.

Link to booking workshop on Zoom

Creative Corner Forum

SCVO are keen to establish an arts, creativity and community forum that explores ‘How creatives and communities can work together in Sandwell?’

We are looking to hold our first Creative Corner Forum on Friday 2nd July 2021, 10.30am via an online platform (Zoom or Microsoft Teams).

The forum is open to anyone interested in the arts and creativity including individuals, community organisations, arts practitioner’s charities, community interest companies and businesses, who want to share information, make new connections and develop creative projects within Sandwell.

Creative Black Country’s Arts Advisor Rich Franks will be at hand to share insights and information on what is happening via Creative Black Country.

We’ll be encouraging:

  • both community and creative organisations to share their experiences and / or examples of successful arts projects in the community,
  • information sharing on potential funding opportunities available for creative projects,
  • participants to network with other like-minded attendees and
  • opportunities to collaborate on new projects.

Anyone wishing to attend will need to reserve their FREE place via Eventbrite by clicking here. Once registered SCVO will email the joining instructions nearer the time. So be sure to pencil the date into your diary.

Applications are Now Open for Theatre Makers China Plate’s First Bite 2021 Programme!

Applications are now open for China Plate’s First Bite 2021 programme! They are looking for submissions from theatre makers based in the Midlands to develop new work and showcase ideas to audiences and industry at the First Bite online micro-festival in September 2021.

This opportunity will provide 10 artists/companies from the region with the following:

  • £700 towards the development of a new idea/project
  • A chance to share and pitch the work as part of the First Bite online micro-festival
  • Support from China Plate and the First Bite partners to develop the work
  • Two of the programmed artists will be selected to receive a commission of £3000 to further develop the work and present it at its next stage, alongside a showcase of new performance work, during Bite Size festival at Warwick Arts Centre in April 2022.

Deadline for applications is: 10am – Monday 7th June 2021.

More information, including how to apply, is available on our website:

Telephone Treat Makes a Comeback

A ‘magical’ telephone performance programme returns to Sandwell this month courtesy of Black Country Touring. ‘Dial a Story’ gives participants the chance to experience storytelling, poetry and music with professional performers, all for free.

The programme proved very popular last autumn with participants describing it as “magical,” saying they “closed their eyes and were someplace else.”

Artists on hand for the 15 minute performances are poet Adrian B. Earle, storyteller Peter Chand and musicians Sam Frankie Fox and Ricardo Santos Rocha.

Adrian B. Earle is a writer, poet and media maker from Birmingham, creating journeys through the written word for stage, film and radio under the name ThinkWriteFly. He writes and performs his own work alongside recitations of verse from other poets past and present.

Peter Chand is an award-winning international storyteller, hugely in demand for his unique retelling of tales from his motherland, India, into English. He’s performed extensively in the UK and abroad.

Frankie Fox is a Welsh vocalist, harpist, theatre maker and sound designer based in the West Midlands. Sam has worked locally, nationally and internationally as an actor-musician; lead vocalist of Kiriki Club; band member with Little Sister; as composer/sound designer; as a vocalist with The Royal Shakespeare Company and as a soloist with Talking Birds & Orchestra of the Swan.

Ricardo Santos Rocha is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and sound designer from Portugal who’s been based in Birmingham since 2013. He has worked with, amongst others, Kindle Theatre/Kiln Ensemble, Graeae Theatre, and the Birmingham REP.

Get in touch with any questions, or to make a booking:
Phone: 07745 203 834

Invitation to Exhibit Landscapes Community Art

To celebrate their reopening, The Art Yard (TAY) are holding a 4 week exhibition of art by invited artists, to be held at the gallery between Monday, 19th April, and Saturday, 15th May 2021. The exhibition will consist of:

• Landscapes – commissioned and community art created by Cradley Heath Green Landscapes project
• Textiles – showcasing a range of specialist craft work by ‘On The Surface’ group
• Self-portrait competition – 2D, 3D & Poetry *see details below

You are invited to submit your self-portrait competition entry (February 2021) to the exhibition, There is no charge. 2D & 3D art work. Please complete the submission form, label your work and deliver your self- portrait to the gallery ready to hang by 17th April 2021.
Poetry. The gallery will print, laminate and exhibit your poem, sized A4. You do not need to complete a submission form.
Collection of work. Please collect your 2D & 3D art no later than Saturday, 22nd May 2021.

The gallery will be holding its next Open Art Exhibition from Monday 24th May 2021. Details to be circulated at a later date.  Email  Telephone 01384 910968.

Volunteer Radio Broadcast Presenter Opportunity with The Art Yard

The Art Yard (TAY) are inviting individuals to apply to be a volunteer Radio Broadcast Presenter for them, you don’t need to be a practicing artist to apply.

Midland Film and Art is a constituted group that manages The Art Yard  gallery and studio at 59 Reddal Hill Road, Cradley Heath. They are looking to recruit volunteers who are passionate about the arts to join their team to promote all aspects of arts and crafts activity in the wider Black Country area on a new radio channel that will begin broadcasting later this year.

You may have heard that this year Dudley College will be opening a modern education facility at The Waterfront, Brierley Hill. New broadcast studios are being included in the development that will be the base for Black Country Radio, as well as house 2 additional stations; Black Country Hospital Radio and a completely innovative channel, Black Country Extra. TAY have been invited to have a regular broadcast slot on Black Country Extra aimed at entertaining and informing listeners about creative arts activities.

Successful applicants will be the voice of TAY and host (or co-host) programmes transmitted by radio and on-line. Programmes will be recorded in advance and broadcast later as part of scheduled activities. The length and number of regular TAY broadcasts are subject to negotiation and will depend on the volunteers’ availability.

Much of the proposed Black Country Extra radio station is in the early stages of development, so there is a great opportunity for those interested to develop their own skills and experience of broadcasting, and also to influence the station’s creative arts activities and future programming. Click here to view the Description.

TAY volunteers taking part will have access to a large number of professional, educational, practised, community and novice arts and crafts people. They will also be able to reach numerous art societies, clubs and community groups to feed those activities into broadcasts, either by studio or remote recording.

How To Apply
If you are interested in applying for the role of TAY Radio Broadcast Presenter please get back to us by email ASAP to The Art Yard at with your name, telephone number and brief reasons as to why you are applying for this.

Do you want to promote a volunteer opportunity for free?
Have you go a volunteer opportunity you’d like to promote then get in touch with Kim Fuller by email at to find out how you can get your volunteer opportunity listed on our Let’s Go website.

£400 Million Additional Funding Announced for Cultural Organisations

The UK Government has announced an additional £400 million will be awarded to arts, culture and heritage organisations across England in the form of grants and loans from the Culture Recovery Fund.

Funding, which was held back in previous rounds, will be available for Cultural organisations that were financially stable before Covid-19, but are now at imminent risk of collapse. £300 million in grants and £100 million in loans will be offered to support organisations’ transition back to their usual means of operating from April 2021.

The Fund will be administered by the Arts Council England.

Further details will be released in due course, see for updates.

Beat It Percussion Relax and Chat Sessions – FREE

Beat It Percussion are inviting you to attend one of their Relax and Chat FREE 50 minute sessions, which are sound and rhythm-based interventions promoting relaxation, stress relief and overall wellbeing.

COVID-19 has brought isolation and stress to many of us. People’s mental health has been challenged. In response to this Beat It Percussion has created ‘Relax and Chat’, a new Zoom project aimed at promoting relaxation and stress relief.

Our mental health is important. Being part of a supportive group and being able to share your story can improve your mood and resilience. Relaxation is part of self-care, which helps us deal with stress and anxiety.

In the Relax and Chat session you will experience a live sound relaxation experience using gongs and singing bowls. Moreover, you will also have the chance to chat with others and feel part of a supportive group.

If you’d like to book your place via Eventbrite onto one of the sessions available click here.

Have you got an event or good news story you’d like SCVO to promote then why not drop us a line at to find out how we might be able to help.


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