As York’s floating arts centre is selected for special business support, Marcia Mackey reveals why it is sailing towards the future with confidence
There has been much misinterpretation about the nature of the Arts Barge Project and so we thought we’d set out the facts. The Arts Barge Project is a not-for-profit arts business working with local communities and inspired by a desire to bring vitality and life back to one of York’s best and most underused resources, the River Ouse.
It has an outstanding five-year track record of delivering social occasions focused around music, theatre and visual arts in an informal, fresh and accessible style. The project delivers collaboration and excellence, education and mentoring and intergenerational participation in the belief that creativity brings vitality to people’s lives, relationships and societies.
The Arts Barge Project has worked with over 350 arts practitioners and has become a respected and trusted contributor to “fringe” cultural activity in the city.
A pilot project based on a rented river barge for a month in summer 2011 delivered a packed programme of arts events. During this trial, Arts Barge worked with 180 professional and aspiring artists and attracted an audience of more than 3,000, demonstrating the potential for independent financial sustainability and a high demand for a family focused venue where locals and visitors enjoy diverse arts events, food, drink and good company on the river.
Due to its business potential the Arts Barge Project has now achieved recognition through a rigorous selection process as one of six outstanding entrepreneurial arts business ventures for the Yorkshire and Humber region in 2013. The Cultural Entrepreneur Programme is funded by Arts Council England and delivered by Yorkshire Visual Arts Network, with support from the national Contemporary Art Society.
The programme helps chosen projects to generate business activity that attracts revenue from external sources into the arts sector, strengthening the region’s arts market.
The Arts Barge has attracted further significant public and professional support including investment from York City Council’s economic infrastructure fund. It also aims to attract investment from the private sector in order to complete the purchase, renovation and mooring of a heritage river barge, meeting city objectives to attract business and investment and to regenerate river usage.
Funding will also ensure consolidation and extension of the core work of the project, development of established revenue streams and creation of new ones.
Project activities will take place both on the barge and continue throughout the city and region with many different client groups including schools, residential care homes, hospitals and festivals.
The barge itself will become a regionally important arts initiative and venue of which the city can be proud. Aims of The Arts Barge Project will be to create jobs and apprenticeships, attract locals and tourists and become a successful example of community contribution to economic growth in the region.
As one York resident and audience member said: “This is exactly what York needs and hubs like the barge will encourage more creativity to spring up in other parts of the city too – snowballing into more much-needed revenue for the city and an increased diversity of entertainment, great for locals and visitors alike.
“With projects like the Barge springing up, it feels like a great time to be in York.” Local resident and audience member
Ongoing and future projects
We will be contributing to the city’s summer events programme between 19th – 21st July to offer residents and tourists a flavour of the project
Gypsy Jazz at The Golden Ball Community Pub: An open session with guest player, Sunday afternoons monthly. This event has enjoyed overwhelming popularity on its first session in April 2013. The next sessions are May 12th and June 9th.
Bargestra: the Arts Barge Amateur Band welcomes anyone who plays an instrument to fortnightly workshops and performance opportunities. The band currently has members aged between 12 and 70 across a range of abilities.
The Arts Barge Party Band, Jazz Band and Gypsy Jazz Collective are available to hire for your wedding, party or corporate event, competitively priced and towards a worthy cause. We also aim to meet any other musical or entertainment needs.
Band workshop sessions for any new and improving band looking for external professional guidance on developing their sound, providing input according to your needs.
Art For Well Being and Art Therapy Service working with groups and individuals in the community and currently working into secondary and primary schools.