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We have a small (£1,200) commission to offer artists, creatives and practitioners who are keen to explore how we can develop audiences in new ways at a school setting through the theme of connectivity through 3D artforms. We especially welcome Black Shale members and/or practitioners who are based in Amber Valley and Bolsover.


Context: Black Shale
The Black Shale cultural education partnership (CEP) 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.

Black Shale 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 include some areas with strong assets and creative vibrancy and others that are ex-industrial, including many communities with a ‘cultural hangover’. It’s these communities tend to have more barriers to accessing high quality arts and cultural education that we tend to dwell in.

Ofton Festival has been one of the CEP’s core strands of work, and this commission is part of supporting the festival’s development of audiences.

Context: Ofton Festival

Ofton Festival is a locally-driven artistic intervention in Alfreton; an ex-mining town with very little arts activity, yet with many closed & forgotten venues steeped in culture. It uses creative practice and co-produced artistic pieces to explore the themes of awakening, migration and the spectacular of the temporary as we unlock, appropriate & create new ways to experience art.


The festival has run twice in 3 years – check out the blog for more information


This is one of three of our Ofton Festival development commissions, designed to explore, test and trial approaches to broadening the festival’s depth and breadth of community reach. Each commission will take a different approach to achieve our overall aim.


The most recent Ofton Festival, in 2019, ran in unlocked & overlooked Alfreton venues over 2 days comprising 4 installations, street activity & participatory workshops. It…

AWAKENED an innate enjoyment of artistic endeavour

DISCOVERED culture on the doorstep

CREATED & celebrated community networks through spectacular art

EXPLORED the impact of creativity on individuals


Over 4,000 people benefited from the project in 2019. Groups of children worked with an Artist to co-create:

“Mystical Eggs” 295 un-hatched ceramic egg installation, Dave Wadsworth &

Nicola Wheeler

“Murmuration” paper installation, Rachel Carter

“Bemusement Arcade” interactive game & drama performance, Face Up

“Memory Mining” geo heritage tree, Martin Blackham

A free programme of creative workshops for children, adults and families ran alongside the headliners in venues across Alfreton – from the leisure centre café to St Mary’s Church, and from the market square to the old town jail.


The partnerships gained were powerful. One venue explained their joy in the festival “cutting across all corners of the town to reach many pockets of people”; venues were opened that aren’t usually accessible to the public, “I’ve lived here 71 years and I’ve never before seen inside the Houses of Confinement!”; one person volunteered to be ‘an authentic tour guide’ because they felt the festival held the true authenticity of the town “its Ofton this is!”.


Audience and participant feedback:

“This festival is fantastic! We saw dancers in the library yesterday!”

“[Creative activity] is a way of combating loneliness and getting people interested in what is in the town”

“Art makes me happy. I like seeing my mum do it too”


Artist Brief

This commission will explore how we can reach parental audiences through the Westhouses Primary School network. Most children who attended Ofton Festival as audiences and participants in 2016 and 2019 did so during school hours. In the next festival we want to increase family engagement and so we want to understand if engaging parents directly in an Artist-led activity increases the likelihood of them venturing into Alfreton to view their child’s work and that of others.



This commission is in partnership with Westhouses Primary School, near Alfreton, Derbyshire. The school is based in pivotal ex-railway hamlet and is in an ex-coalfield parish.


Theme and Expectations

The school are currently undertaking an Artsmark journey and have been diversifying their ‘diet of the arts’ across their curriculum. They are particularly interested in developing physical/ 3D/ sculpture experiences for the children and parents in an outdoor setting. Although it is certainly not essential based on the limited budget, the school is open to a sculptural output (permanent/ temporary) to celebrate and showcase in their outdoor space.  Due to the majority of year 3, 4 and 5 children missing a large chunk of school time in the 2019/20 school year, the school is keen to work with these year groups.


In a nutshell:

  • An enquiry into how working with parents and children could change/ develop the audiences engaging with the arts and with Ofton Festival

  • An experience for parents/ children in years 3, 4 and 5

  • 3D/Sculpture/ physical art forms

  • Potentially a legacy piece to be showcased in the outdoors



- Applications deadline midday Monday 17th August

- Decisions shared by 5pm Friday 21st August

- Planning discussions with school in early September

- Delivery in school in September and October


£1,200 total, with a suggested breakdown of:

£1000 artist time, anticipated as 4 days @ £250pd inclusive

£200 materials

*This can be altered to suit you material/time needs

You’ll need your own public liability insurance, current safeguarding training (we can support you on this if you have not had training in the last 12 months) and a current full DBS. 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!)

  • How you are planning to do it (e.g. how many sessions/participants etc)

  • 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 2 sides of A4 or equivalent and 1 page or equivalent for any additional imagery you might want to share.


Please email your application to by midday 17th August 2020.
If you have any questions please email


Black Shale, Ofton Festival & Westhouses Primary Commission

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