In January 2012 Barnard Castle was chosen as one of seven Beacon Towns for the Cultural Olympics Winning Words project. Each town was tasked with encouraging the local community to celebrate 2012 by participating in the creation of poetry installations.
Barnard Castle decided to run the project at Level 2, which included encouraging schools to submit poetry created through the Generator and running a town poetry competition.
Anne Dauber’s poem The Great Grey Barn was chosen out of fifty entries from across the North East as the basis for the textile/poetry installation.
Textile artist Lone Helliwell ws appointed to facilitate workshops in Barnard Castle, Darlington and Richmond. Participants were invited to attend workshops or submit textile squares which interpreted parts of the winning poem. Twenty of these were chosen to create the final permanent installation. In the meantime, all short-listed poets were invited to record their work for a Radio Teesdale Book Programme and poems were exhibited in local shop windows throughout the summer.
As the initial poetry activities had not attracted the 7-11 age group, a series of summer writing sessions was arranged to be run in local libraries to complement the National Reading Challenge.
Teachers who attended the Generator Training and summer school participants were invited to take part in a Renga Relay with the support of Ian MacMillan, Radio Teesdale and Annalisa Ward. Ian recorded the final relay available in CD and MP3 formats. The library sessions and Renga Relay were extra activities to those stated in the original proposal.
Other additions include: registering NeST as an Arts Award Centre to provide the opportunity for 10 teenagers to gain Special Edition Bronze Arts Awards. Working with Jill Cole from Turrets Youth Theatre, I helped to deliver a twenty week programme which incorporated a performance evening at NeST (one of three extra events).
This part of the project was partially funded by the Dickens in Teesdale group. NeST and The Hub provided practice and performance space free of charge, Jill and myself (both trained Arts Award Advisers) gave our time to cover the extra input required beyond the writing workshops initially budgeted for.
The project exceeded initial targets. Regular press coverage through the local media, this blog and social media extended the reach of all events and activities.
It remains for me to thank Barnard Castle Vision CIC and NeST gallery for their support of this project as well as:
Trevor Brookes – The Teesdale Mercury
Jill Cole – Turrets Youth Theatre/ The Hub
Peter Dixon, Andrew Harrison and Sarah Fells – Radio Teesdale
Eve Galloway – Teesdale School Extended Services
Jo Heather – Mudfog Press
Lone Helliwell – Textile Artist
Catherine Jane Howard and Eva Zandman – NeST gallery
Richard Laidler – The Northern Echo Online
Elaine Mills – Barnard Castle Library
Sandra Moorhouse – Dickens in Teesdale
Jeff Price – Generator Poetry Trainer
Paul Rhea – Red Square Design
Gill Robinson – Village Halls Consortium
Annalisa Ward – Barney Guild
Finally, I am pleased to announce that following the success of the Teesdale Poetry event, several people have come forward to work together to establish a Teesdale Poetry Society which will research, record, read, write, perform and promote poetry with a connection to the area. We aim to import posts from this blog into a new wordpress site in 2013 in order to build on interest and enthusiasm generated by the Winning Words project.