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We have 2 small (£750) commissions to offer artists, creatives and practitioners who are Black Shale members and/or are based in Amber Valley and Bolsover and keen to explore the theme of connectivity.
The Black Shale cultural education partnerships exists to address inequality of access to high quality arts and cultural education experienced by many primary and very young children in the districts. We do this by joining up artists, educators and community partners to co-design and co-deliver excellent artistic experiences and participatory arts opportunities. More information on the partnership is below.
These commissions are small in value and so we are realistic about what the money can allow you to do. We know that some of the most valuable experiences can come from tiny seeds of ideas, so this might be an opportunity to play with and develop a thought, an inkling, a curiosity you might have already had, or to extend some existing work that’s recently been on pause. We want to fund ideas that broadly fit into Black Shale’s vision and the theme of connectivity, but we don’t have any preference on how or what that might look like. You may want to respond to an enquiry question you are interested in, to softly test some ideas out, work in partnership in new ways, or something in-between or beyond. We’re excited to hear what you want to do and why you want to do it.
Applications are open from 11th August, the deadline for submissions is midnight 27th August and applicants will notified by 5pm on the 2nd September 2020. You’re welcome to get started right away or take your time, but either way the activity/ work should be completed by 10th December 2020.
£750 inclusive of your time and materials
A 30minute set-up online meeting with Sam and Jodie from Platform Thirty1 in early September, and another short online meeting when you’ve completed your work to act as a wrap-up/ feedback session. You’ll need your own public liability insurance if you want to work in the public sphere, and a current DBS and safeguarding training if you want to be in contact with children or vulnerable people. You must follow government guidelines to work safely at all times during the pandemic.
Please tell us, through words/ pictures/ weblinks/ audio/ any other way you feel comfortable:


  • A little bit about you, your practice and your track record

  • Briefly what would you like to do in response to the theme (we don’t need lots of details at this stage, broad brushstrokes are fine!)

  • Why you want to do it

  • Full name, address, contact details

We don’t want the application to be a drain for you so please direct us to any existing content where you think it fits the bill. Your application should be a maximum of 1 side of A4 or equivalent and 1 page or equivalent for any additional imagery you might want to share.

Please email your application to by midnight 27th August 2020.
If you have any questions please email

The Black Shale cultural education partnership was formed in 2018, led by local arts and community organisation Platform Thirty1. We are a collective of arts professionals, educators and schools, community groups and volunteers with a shared vision for the younger generation in Amber Valley and Bolsover:
A childhood made up of rich, varied experiences that include exposure to and participation in arts and cultural education builds the foundations for a happy and healthy life. An equality of access that effectively negotiates personal barriers, social stigma and geographical challenges means no one misses out or goes unheard.
The districts house areas with present-day strong assets and creative vibrancy and towns and villages that are ex-industrial, including many communities with a ‘cultural hangover’. It’s these communities with more barriers to accessing high quality arts and cultural education that we tend to dwell in.
The partnership has four strands to its work:

  • Ofton Festival: a co-produced arts festival in ‘Ofton (Alfreton), that has run in 2016 and 2019 (with tentative hopes for a 2022 festival currently)

  • Schools Programme: working with nursery, infant and primary schools to extend and enhance their creative, arts and cultural education offer

  • Community Programme: a series of participatory arts projects in discreet community settings, for example with children living temporarily in domestic violence refuges

  • Infrastructure Support: the back-bone of the partnership coordinating opportunities, network events, offering micro-grants, undertaking fundraising with partners and offering training

Black Shale Community Commission

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