Friday, 23 May 2014

Keep Calm and Co-work at The Courthouse!

All rights reserved. Image taken from The Keep Calm-o-Matic

Calling all home workers, mobile workers, freelancers and home based business, the aim is to bring professionals together in an informal working environment in a new idea from Rural Arts...

What is Co-working?
Co-working is a style of work in a shared working environment. Unlike in a typical office  where people are employed by the same company, those co-working are usually freelancers, entrepreneurs, or have home based businesses.

People who Co-work are usually independent professionals who work better when they are amongst other people, than they would alone.

#Infographic: All rights reserved. Image from Copley Road Project

Why Co-work?
Co-working is a great way to get yourself and your business out of the house to network with other creative like-minded people, to maximise creativity and minimise the isolation of sole working.
Co-working differs from networking in that the aim is not to find new clients, sell yourself or your business, but you might be able to exchange help and advice.

Co-working events are taking off across the UK. 42% of businesses are home based and the stats are higher in rural areas.

Rural Co-working at The Courthouse:
Have a day with difference.

The ethos of Thirsk's first ever Co-working day is to be flexible. The Co-working events will take place on the second Friday of every month.
Valuable expertise can be just a few seats away because small interactions can spark ideas, projects and contacts.

Just bring along your work and laptop for the day, connect to Wi-Fi and do what you had planned in the company of others.

Important details:
When: 13th June, 11th July, 8th August, 12th September, 10th October, 14th November

Where: Rural Arts, The Courthouse, Thirsk

Time: 10:00am - 4:00pm

Charge: £15.00 including lunch

To book a place:
Spaces are limited to 25 people for the first event and will be allocated on a first come first served basis.
To book your place, please call Janice on: 01845 526536 or e-mail or you can book online, HERE.

For more information:
If you have any questions, please call Nick Scott on: 01765 609971/07714145354 or e-mail:

Friday, 16 May 2014

Meet our Up-Cycled Cyclist!

(All rights reserved; click to view Le Tour Yorkshire website)
It's happening. The Word's biggest cycle race - the Tour de France -  is coming to Yorkshire. This is Yorkshire's chance to welcome the world, where millions of fans will be joining together to cheer on their heros!

To celebrate the arrival of the Grand Depart, Rural Arts will be holding both Yorkshire and cycle-themed events to inspire people to create and engage with the art God's Own County has to offer!

Hurtling into the Courthouse on the 1st July is our Made in Yorkshire Exhibition, featuring work from professional artists across the county.

And just like the Grand Depart has three stages, we're got three exclusive events revolving (get it?!) around the art of up cycling - giving something old and unwanted a new lease of life, often in a different form.

1) Up-Cycle Exhibiton - Be inspired by our exhibition featuring Cheryl Feakes, Caroline Brodgen and Suzanne Decker and pick up the perfect present - we've got everything from bike-part birdcages to driftwood angler fish! (Yes really!)

2) Makers Market - Come along to our upcycle themed Makers Market, featuring jewellery, homeward and furnishings from independent designer-makers and be-spoke furniture by the Boot Shop in Easingwold.

3) Up-Cycle Family Workshop - Create wonderful pieces of art out of old bike parts! A steal at only £2.50 per family.

That's not all! The young people at our Saturday Art Club have been creating fantastic upcycled sculptures to be installed into the Courthouse garden to complement our Le Tour banners. They have been looking at the work of artist Robert Bradford, who makes sculpture out of discarded plastic toys and are making a life-size cyclist on a real bike to put up in the Courthouse garden.

Here is an example of Robert Bradford's artwork:

Image taken from Daily Mail. Click here for full article

And now our kids from art club..!

Art club children working on their own work inspired by Robert Bradford

Man in the making!
Meet Bruce!

Bruce will be living in our Courthouse garden throughout Le Tour. Why not call in and meet him for  a coffee?

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

#CREATEtour 2014 in Norton, Malton


Last week saw the first #CREATEtour of 2014. The project was launched by us in 2013 and takes place in The Wolds, East Cleveland and Selby District at different points in the year. It gives young people the chance to work with a professional performance company for four days, creating a short performance which then opens for the professional company on four dates as part of Rural Arts ON Tour. The project is completely free thanks to funding and support from Arts Council England, Ryedale District Council, North Yorkshire Youth Service, and Ryedale Youth Support Service. A big thanks to North Yorkshire County Council for providing us with a dance floor for the week too.

Last week, we worked at Brooklyn Youth Centre in Norton, near Malton with Phoenix Dance Theatre.  14 young people took part, and this week, from the 23rd to 26th April, they'll be opening for Phoenix Dance Theatre's REfined at Stillington Village Hall, Thirsk High School, Milton Rooms, Malton and Kirkbymoorside Memorial Hall. REfined is a mixed bill of Phoenix's most popular work of the last five years and offers a rare chance to see some of the world's most talented dancers up close. You can purchase tickets here

One of the professionals that the young people will be opening for this week.

Below, Jasmine, one of the young people who is taking part in the project, tells us about her experience working with the company:

I have loved my experience with Rural Arts because Amanda and Carmen [from Phoenix Dance Theatre] really helped us all to progress. I have learnt some really cool dance moves and I am dancing to music I don't normally dance to. The music we are currently dancing to has no lyrics which means I don't have as many cues. 
Amanda Lewis from Phoenix Dance Theatre starts putting the piece together

The dancing does have it's challenges because we have to work out the counts ourselves because Phoenix Dance Theatre won't be on stage to count for us so we have to count ourselves.
Also, I have made new friends here. I can also talk to some people that I see at school because they come too! This insures that I can have friends to talk to in my break.

Young people have a well earned break

Sophie, Chloe, Libby and the rest of the Rural Arts and 4 Youth  [Ryedale Youth Support Sevice] crew have become my new friends too. They're fun and bubbly and very supportive.
Overall my experience at The Create Tour has been awesome and I definitely want to come back next year for another fun packed activity week!

Young people get to grips with a tricky dance move

Friday, 28 March 2014

The Novice Detective

This week ON Tour Project assistant fills us in on the launch of our Young Promoters Scheme in Redcar and Weaverthorpe....


This week comedian and writer Sophie Willan, the winner of the 2012 Flying Solo Commission at Contact Manchester performed her hilarious show The Novice Detective as part of the Rural Arts leg of her tour. This was two performances in two very different locations, with the first show taking place in Redcar at Tuned in, then the following evening going to Weaverthorpe which ended The Novice Detective shows in our programme.

Having never seen Novice Detective before, I can say it was by far one of the funniest shows I have seen. My personal highlight of the performances was the moment when audience members are asked to join Sophie on stage. She is great at on-stage banter with her newly appointed sidekick who warily steps out of the audience but ends up loving their new role, of being assistant to the star of the show. This allows many off the script moments that make the performance so different each night. The performance centres around Sophie's missing father but it is more about her journey to closure and the funny ways she achieves this. 

These performances where also linked to a project, Young Promoters, two groups of young people who undertook the task of promoting The Novice Detective in their area. Over the last few weeks they were promoting the show via social media and marketing it in their community. These events also gave us a chance to see the Young Promoters finish their project by running front of house and meeting the cast and crew.

Feedback for the show has been fantastic, with one audience member describing the one woman show as "clever and poignant" while another said "every moment was a complete surprise, worth travelling a long way across Ryedale for".

This project happens all over the country but it was the first time us at Rural Arts have done a Young Promoters scheme, all the young people involved did a brilliant job promoting the show and ensured people in their area saw this hilarious show.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

"From Hand to Market" project

"From Hand to Market" is an arts project where the aim is mainly focused on engaging wives and partners of the Armed Forces in the creation of unique artwork made under the guidance of professional artists. This project has invited them to venture out of their isolated military houses and to integrate into the local community.

The Military wives, based at Dishforth Airfield and Allanbrook barracks have been involved in a series of textile based craft workshops led by contemporary textile artist Dionne Swift, where they have learnt a range of techniques such as screen printing, fabric painting, batik and embroidery. Upon completion of each project, each unique design can be used as an accessory or furnishings to be used in the home.

Professional artist, Dionne Swift studied Embroidery at Goldsmith’s College and after completing a master’s degree at the University of Central England, Dionne has progressed her career to lecture at Higher Education level for over 20 years.

The workshops occur regularly and are designed for the Military partners to learn new skills that can be used wherever they go. In addition to weekly workshops, weekend master class sessions are also offered where other professional artists teach their own specific trades. Previous workshops and master classes have focused on producing cushions, curtains and lampshades, upcoming workshops will focus on hat making, screen-printing and dressmaking.



Glasses cases:

As well as making items for gifts or for personal use, the focus of the project is to take the finished article 'to market'. Where there is an opportunity to exhibit and sell work at craft and trade events, as well as larger events such as the Deer Shed Festival in Topcliffe next year.

The Deer Shed festival is a music and arts festival located in Baldersby Park in North Yorkshire. The Military wives and partners will be designing and creating banners to be displayed throughout the grounds. This year, the festival will be welcoming many acts, such as hip-hop duo Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip.

Following many sessions and workshops, Dionne will advise and support the Military partners in website development and setting up their own small business in order to sell their handmade products online using various e-commerce websites, such as Folksy and Etsy.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Top moments at Rural Arts in 2013

Here's a round up of what we've been doing this year and a few personal highlights too...

Janice McVay

The highlight of the year for me was the challenge of running the Community Learning ceramics project throughout the summer. We found out at the end of May that we had been successful in our funding application to North Yorkshire County Council and Your Consortium to work with 72 people and the project had to be completed by September!

We had to provide 12 hours of training and the groups I had identified were Northdale Horticulture, Broadacres Women’s Refuge and Mental Health support group, Independus group, The Boot Shop in Easingwold, Jennyruth Workshops in Harrogate and Ripon Community Link. We offered 2-day workshops in ceramics and some sessions were here at The Courthouse and some at the venues where the groups met.   

Artists Angela, Debbie and Shirley provided patience, guidance and fantastic encouragement and helped each person to design and make a tile and a 3D object and the highlight of the project was seeing the sense of achievement when they had the opportunity to create something unique which they would have the opportunity to exhibit. By the end of the summer we had worked with 80 people and all the participants and family and friends were invited to a celebration event and exhibition at The Courthouse with tea and homemade cake!  

We had over 90 people attending and it was great to see their reactions and give them the opportunity to have their work displayed in a professional setting – we even had visitors wanting to buy some of the work!! The success of the project has enabled us to continue the project this year with the Probation service and we will be working with 42 women in Selby, Northallerton, Skipton and Harrogate starting in the New Year.

Becky Griffiths 

My Highlight of the year is bringing Faye on board as my apprentice, she has come into the cafe with an amazing work ethic and she is going from strength to strength every day. Claire Taylor aka The Cake Fairy has asked me whether she can take Faye as her assistant to the Yorkshire Show 2014 due to the amazing support she gave Claire when we were holding the Halloween biscuit decorating workshop at the Courthouse.

Chris Marr

I spent a brilliant few months with Rural Arts this year as an intern, working with Chloe and Ellen in the ON Tour office. I have a huge number of happy memories from working with RANY, but I think our Create Tour performances with Phoenix Dance Theatre in East Cleveland have to be my personal highlight. This project gave young people from an area with very low engagement with the arts the opportunity to work alongside a leading contemporary dance company with an international reputation. The young people who took part were able to create some exceptional dance work under the guidance of some of the best dancers the UK has to offer – and at no cost to the young people. I'm still very proud to have been involved with Create Tour, and wish Rural Arts the best of luck with it in 2014!

Chloe Hampson

At the time it didn't feel like it, but my highlight has to be the final Create Tour (read what Create Tour is here performance of the year in Danby. An hour and a half's drive from our base in Tadcaster the journey took in some of Yorkshire's, shall we say, most scenic and challenging roads and we were getting there by minibus (thanks to North Yorkshire Youth Service) with youth worker Abda at the wheel. When Friday came, we all set off with plans of an after show party and fun to be had by all...Well, before we even got to the FLOODS it turned out our trusty minibus couldn't quite hack the moor, and to get it uphill meant getting out and walking alongside it, when we overcame that hurdle it was literally all down hill from there as road after road was closed due to flooding and drivers told us to turn back every way we went. This 'act of God' was the sort of thing you write about on the risk assessment but never think will actually happen and it is fair to say that at the time it wasn't funny, we were all very worried and my parka coat (next time Create Tourers if I say bring a coat, bring a coat!) was worn by a lot of the team, but thanks to some amazing community spirit and tremendous help from passers by, we got to our destination. Getting on stage half an hour late and having to leave in the interval, it sounds like it should be a lowlight but not only did the experience make for some hilarious ad-libbing from the young people while they were performing, it also showed me that when disaster strikes people of all ages really will go the extra mile to help; from the man that spent his evening letting us follow him so we went the safest way, to one Create-Tourer calming the other down,  and our volunteer promoter Les making sure we all got a brew when we arrived, to Barbershopera STILL smiling and singing despite having the same ordeal!

A HUGE thanks to everyone who helped with ALL the Create Tour projects BRING ON 2014!!

Ellen Jordan

For me one of the many highlights this year has been watching the Create Tour grow from strength to strength. From the first high-octane outing in the Wolds - where there was certainly room for improvement - to the final 2013 project with Barbershopera, which was a fully fledged professional rural tour!

I have really enjoyed working with all the young people and seeing huge changes in many of them; in their behaviour, well-being, confidence and even attitude to life!

The other great moments were attending the NRTF conference and successfully mentoring 18 young people in achieving Bronze Arts Award - which you can read about in other blog posts!

Hannah Stroud

My highlight for the year has to be working with a fantastic bunch of young people on our ‘Young Curators’ medieval inspired ceramics and glass project. This is the first outreach project I’ve worked on at Rural Arts and I’ve loved being involved from the very start. The young people participating have made some fantastic artwork and we’ve had some brilliant visits to local heritage sites together, they’re a really hard working group. The results of our kiln firing days in the autumn are so impressive, and in April 2014 we’ll be helping the group exhibit their artwork at the Hall at Fountains Abbey. I can’t wait to see it on show!