25 March 2019
The Civic, a vibrant arts centre in the heart of Barnsley, is launching Moved By Art, a three-year community engagement programme.
It aims to build on festivals, exhibitions, performances and events, alongside creating long-term relationships with community groups.
Jason White, 38, former Gallery Assistant at The Civic, begins the new role of Community Engagement Officer in April. Barnsley-born, he studied Arts and Education at Bretton Hall before working in Fine Art galleries in London. He returned to his hometown in 2012 working for Barnsley’s local authority-run museums before moving to The Civic.
Jason said: “I used to run a website, Alternative Barnsley, focussed on supporting grassroots arts and music, and put on gigs and exhibitions. I really wanted to work at a grassroots level after working in high-end galleries selling very expensive artworks - a sales job that can often detract from the importance of art and how it might benefit people on a community level. Moved By Art really offers the chance for people in my home town to connect with culture at a really personal and visceral level.”
Each year The Civic delivers an artistic programme of exhibitions, performance, festivals and events that relate to the area’s social, economic and political attitudes, whilst also entertaining and encouraging debate.
Jason said: “Barnsley has been home to a wealth of artistic talent, be it award-winning choreographers, renowned musicians or acclaimed graphic artists, and as a venue, The Civic hosts and develops the very best in performance and visual artist and we want the wider community to feel like they are part of it.”
Plans include collaborating with Red Ladder Theatre Group and taking high quality theatre to non-traditional venues such as working men’s clubs, creating new pop-up exhibitions, building stronger partnerships with schools, and supporting new live performances with Fringe events for the outdoor festival, Underneath the Stars, and Barnsley’s annual comedy festival.
Jason passionately believes communities can benefit from cultural engagement: “People sometimes make assumptions about what galleries and theatre are, especially in towns like ours where there is often lower cultural engagement. Maybe they feel it’s not relevant to them, but magazines, favourite TV shows or music all come from creativity and a passion for the Arts. Having access to culture can help people find out things about themselves, it can nurture well-being and positive mental health, help people to learn a new skill, or even offer something as simple as escapism or an opportunity to socialise.”
Jason added: “I know there are areas in Barnsley where people struggle economically or health-wise, or there are communities where some people are socially isolated. We’d like to take what we do here out to those people and make them part of The Civic family. A big part of having community engagement is that it cannot be fleeting; it’s got to be 100% relevant and beneficial to their lives. I’m looking forward to that and to getting to know a lot of new people.”
Notes to Editors
The Civic is a vibrant arts centre in the heart of Barnsley with a 336-seater theatre, gallery, and exhibition and workshop spaces.
The Civic exists to provide Barnsley and the surrounding communities with a culturally significant voice. The Civics’ community engagement programme ‘Moved by Art’ is a progressive programme of festivals, exhibitions, performance and events taking place at The Civic and within non-traditional community settings. ‘Moved by Art’ relates to the areas, social, economic and political attitudes whilst also entertaining and encouraging debate.
The Civic is an arts charity. Charity no. 1129765