Wakefield Arts Partnership Collaborative Commissions

Members of the Wakefield Arts Partnership (WAP) have teamed up to develop a series of exciting multidisciplinary collaborative projects to be showcased at Wakefield Artwalk events on 31 January, 28 March and 30 May.

The first commission, which will be shared at Artwalk on 31 January, is the result of a collaboration between The Art House and WE ARE which has seen the delivery of a programme of ‘micro’ residencies. Artists Holly Rowan Hesson, Joseph Jackson, Yoke (Annie Nelson and Chris Woodward) and Emma Papworth were each selected based on their proposals to create new work about or inspired by Wakefield.

Upcoming collaborations that will be shared in March include –

National Coal Mining Museum for England (NCMME) and Edgelands Arts

‘Above and Below the Surface’ – exploring the impact of Wakefield’s hidden geological coal seams on the visible landscape and the social lives of the people who live in the area.

HQ Arts and Wakefield Jazz

‘Tango Unchained’ – creating a short performance piece with older Wakefield residents that takes Tango and storytelling as its starting point.

Long Division & Skysail Studios/ various WAP partners

Creating a series of short films to reveal more about WAP partners and where they work.

One to One Development Trust and Axisweb

‘Surround’ will offer local artists and community members the opportunity to work in Virtual Reality to create playful new artwork for showcase in an online VR gallery.

Back in November 2017 The Good of Small Things and the Cluntergate Centre collaborated on a project entitled ‘What Makes Horbury?’ – a celebration of making, creating and doing by the Horbury community with artist Andy Abbott.

Image Credit - Andy Abbott - What Makes Horbury Event

Image Credit Andy Abbott - what makes Horbury event 3

Image credits: What Makes Horbury? event – Andy Abbott

All of the collaborations are being documented by Wakefield College students under the mentorship of experienced Wakefield based filmmaker Nick Singleton. Films created will be shared through the WAP website and twitter account over the coming months and will be showcased as part of a collaborative event during this year’s Long Division Festival on Sunday 3 June 2018.

The commissions are being managed by WAP coordinators, Beam, and build on the work of artist Andy Abbott who delivered the first artist commission, ‘Hidden Wakefield’, for Wakefield Arts Partnership in 2016. This project aimed to creatively engage Wakefield communities in a dialogue about place – stimulating and gathering information and stories that highlight local distinctiveness. As a focus for the project Andy set up the ‘Wakefield Centre for Dark Matter’, which took the form of a mysterious travelling pyramid that archived and exhibited the hidden, hard to find, strange and wonderful aspects of Wakefield that more people should know about. Andy’s work can be viewed online at – http://wakefieldartspartnership.org/hiddenwakefield/

WAP collaborative commissions are supported by Arts Council through its Grants for the Arts programme as part of Beam’s Arts In Place III project.

A Manifesto for a New Wakefield

Manifesto with Seed Fund

Long Division started back in 2011 because there was inordinately high amount of music being created for such a relatively small city. As crazy as it seems seven years later, PRS declared Wakefield the UKs third musical city, based upon the amount of people claiming royalties.


There were a high number of creatives but there were very few opportunities for those people to have their work heard. So we created a festival that was just too good a proposition for (most) people to turn down. That drew audiences to the city and gave these artists the platform they deserved.


Over the years we became more and more interested in the wider culture of Wakefield and in building on that idea of collectively offering something too good to miss.


Yet in many respects, the struggles for those artists trying to find their place, or find an audience for their work have remained, if not increased. The trouble can be knowing where to start or, in an increasingly risk averse arts world, finding someone who will take a punt on something unknown.


It’s something we want to help with. Our Arts Council funded project “A Manifesto For A New Wakefield” will set out our vision for a future Wakefield. And we want that to be formed by the city’s creatives.


One way that anyone can get involved in this is through our Seed Fund Programme. Artists can apply for up to £250 to fund a new idea that will then be debuted at the festival in June. We want the artists to the think about the concept of what a manifesto for the future of Wakefield might include. Beyond that, there are no limits. It can be fully realised, it can be an experiment, it can be music, poetry, film, photography and a hundred other things we aren’t going to waste your time by listing.


Aswell as the Seed Fund, we will be directly commissioning artists to create significant new works and will be handing over programming budgets to new Curators – and offering mentoring as required.


After the festival we will compile all the Seed Fund and other Commission work (and plenty of other things too) into a physical Manifesto which we will proudly wave in people’s faces.


Applications are open until February 19th. The full brief and the application form can be found on our website.


It seems a long time ago since my first ever film commission, which was for the NUM filming the Miners Gala in Durham. It was in the days of large cameras with dock-able lenses and huge battery belts like something The Terminator would wear. In 1989, I thought I’d do my own film making until the time I got my act together and got a proper job (it wasn’t even known as ‘Indie film making’ then). 28 years later, having made over 300 films, some for broadcast, I have now given up on the notion of “regular 9 to 5 employment” altogether. For me working in the arts is a way of life.

I do feel proud that somehow – often against all odds – our team and I have managed to keep One to One Development Trust (formally One to One Productions) going throughout different governments and recessions. There have been many changes and different paths in my journey as a film maker. The biggest change has been in technology.

Bands and Banners Judi Alston on camera 1991

I remember using a cranky old typewriter to produce our first ever business plan in 1988 which won us an award of ‘The Most Innovative Business in Yorkshire and Humber’ from Barclays Bank. Our first ‘public funding’ came shortly after from Wakefield Council, allowing us to get a whole suite of video equipment including an AVID editing system. In the early 1990’s we felt like pioneers of non-linear editing and community film making. Visitors would come from all over the region to see our ‘cutting edge’ studio. I remember some peoples shock and prejudice when we were filming – a woman with a camera! TV cameramen were the worst.

Shuttling through the timeline of our work, the common thread throughout it has been our core values and a strong set of ethics about working with communities; engaging people often on the margins; promoting, celebrating or exploring heritage; engendering a sense of community pride and well-being.

Whizzing onto July 2017, a rainy night at Castleford Tigers RLFC, a packed-out ‘best room’ full of fans, players, supporters and other well-wishers. We are launching the Cas Tigers Heritage Project: a two-year Heritage Lottery funded project with Tigers Trust to create an online ‘Memory Box’ and Virtual Museum to engage fans, the Club and the wider community on a massive move to their new purpose-built stadium (imminent but delayed). It’s been a truly amazing and very enjoyable heritage project. As our guests are trying on VR headsets and exploring the Virtual Museum we’ve created, I have one of those weird out-of-body type moments where I can see so clearly what it means to have kept our integrity as artists, but to have also been open to changes in technology – and being able to adapt creatively to use it.

Packed House Cas Tigers Heritage Launch

I love how media can be used now, the way it has converged. How ‘digital’ can bring things together. At One to One through our in-house studio Dreaming Methods we are advocates and pioneers of what many describe as a new artform: ‘digital storytelling’. I am still passionate about film and documentary – but my interest and appreciation of media is also now on how we can fuse it together; how we as artists can push the boundaries both creatively and technically and how we can engage others in this creative journey, using our skills to influence what will come next.

We’re currently creating a digital story called WALLPAPER VR with funding from Creative England’s Games Lab Leeds initiative (check out our teaser trailer). In my experience of working in the arts, it’s not often that you get the opportunity to take an existing project into a second phase or to develop it further. However, this is the case with WALLPAPER, a narrative game originally funded by the Arts Council back in 2014 as an interactive installation for a gallery setting at Bank Street Arts, and part of a research project with Sheffield Hallam University (SHU).

WALLPAPER is the story of PJ Sanders, Head of Product Innovation at US based company POPPITECH. Following the death of his mother, PJ returns to the UK to his historic home, Dalton Manor, which has been in his family for generations. Needing to clear the house and prepare for sale, PJ toys with his latest product; an experimental device primed to help him uncover the mysterious history behind a room in the house that has remained locked since his childhood. It’s an immersive experience about family secrets, mysteries and the future of technology.

Mrs Smith Cas Tigers Heritage Project launch 2017

Re-purposing WALLPAPER from a digitally projected installation to a Virtual Reality experience is indeed a challenge. We tested audience reaction by creating one scene in VR as a prototype – the reaction was very positive (as you can see in our Being Human Festival film documenting responses).

To do this type of intensive processing work you need easy access to the right tech and a highly resilient attitude to problem solving! A big challenge for us now is being able to keep to date with the hardware and software that we need to do the work. Capital Local Authority grants like those that funded our production studio in the early 1990s seem like a distant dream.

There is a creative buzz around Wakefield now. It’s been gathering momentum over recent years. Big initiatives like The Hepworth and the recently successful Cultural Destinations funding from the Arts Council are the headliners but there is also a rich DIY culture of pop-up events and festivals.

We are currently preparing to showcase WALLPAPER VR at two local events. The first is at Nostell Nights – a great initiative by Nostell Priory to run themed events every few months with a rich art focus and different performers. Explore the beautiful Nostell environment (and its attics!) and enjoy a DJ set provided by Long Division, a bar by Wakefield Beer Exchange, poetry by Paul Bateson and other creative stuff. We will be showing WALLPAPER as in interactive projection and VR experience. It should prove to be a magical night and well worth the visit.

Friday 9th September WALLPAPER at the Nostell Nights: Hidden Spaces event https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/events/629f94bb-6c75-4192-900b-3fcc0c6fbbdd/pages/details

At the end of September, we are delighted to be part of the Wakefield Literature Festival ‘Talking Loud and saying summat’ organised by BEAM and A Firm of Poets. We are part of the ‘We Need to Talk About Music’ programme talking about music, literature and life.

Saturday 30th September 11.00am Mechanics Theatre: WALLPAPER VR Launch and talk about developing a narrative game with soundscape for VR https://www.wakefieldlitfest.org.uk/events/331-wallpaper-vr

It’s been an interesting and exhilarating journey to get where we currently are and to be launching our latest projects. We would love you to attend Nostell nights, and our Lit Fest Launch. Both events are free (£5.00 to book on the Nostell Attic Tour in advance).

So, if you fancy experiencing something “out of the ordinary” (or out of reality), and having a hands-on play with our latest technology – which is somewhat different to the “cutting edge” tech we used in the 90s! – you know where to come. 🙂

Wakefield Jazz ~ Festival Programme 2017

Wakefield Jazz is proud to be celebrating their 30th Anniversary during May 2017 (and on 2nd June).

They are branding the 5 weekly gigs as a Jazz Festival including a Northern Line band, an International artist, a currently in vogue band, a favourite for entertainment and a reprise of the band, and music, commissioned for their 25th Anniversary.

On 5th May The Firebird Quartet gets things going – Jazz North Ambassador artists.


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12th May the consummate entertainer Jay Phelps brings his quartet.

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19th May  Wakefield Jazz actual anniversary date, featuring the Jonathan Gee trio with Tim Whitehead playing Jonathan’s Wakefield Suite and other material.

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26th May  The Dominic Galea Quartet.  Dominic makes a rare visit from Malta with his London band.

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Finally, on 2nd June the season concludes with a band making lots of waves since the launch of their new CD.

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Full price for each gig payable
at the door £10.00
Students £5.00

Special offer available for purchasing multiple tickets – see website for more details.

Future Creativity – Rutland Mills

Remember 6th April 2017 – that was the day the Rutland Mill project truly went public. The takeover of the complex of mills on The Calder has been discussed for many years. Indeed, during this very meeting it was commented that a sign advertising ‘a dazzling water-side development’ had been there in excess of 8 years. The company taking over the mills, Tileyard, said they’d get their crowbar that very evening and remove it – this really is happening.

Tileyard is an existing company that operates from Kings Cross, London. It is a large, creative community comprising music studios, songwriting workshops, commercial retail units, graphic and digital design studios, film and videogame design and, well, far too many to mention here. Their website can tell you more.

The ethos is one of collaboration and the building / complex is designed more like a village, with purpose built social areas, cafes and restaurants that encourage sometimes unlikely meetings of minds.

Tileyard intend to effectively turn Rutland Mills into Tileyard North. In the opening statement of the afternoon of panels and discussion, Leader Of The Council Peter Box expressed how ideally placed Wakefield is geographically for this type of wide ranging creative hub. The core Tileyard team then went on to discuss the size and scope of the building, with opportunities for all level of creatives to get involved followed by a panel of creatives who had experience with the London Tileyard, which backed up the huge possibilities of so many different creative industries being under one roof.

The team advised they expected ‘lights on’ within 12 months with an opening at some point in 2018. The plans for the space are now being developed but are clearly not set in stone – we were shown different examples of what one space could be used for and they were happy to point out they want to build to the specifications of the people who will use it. Finding them is the first step, rather than build it and then see who may come along. Some members of the panels based in London openly said they would be purchasing space, so excited were they about the opportunity to have a northern base.

Tileyard are now undergoing a process of making connections on a more local level and are keen to connect. Wakefield Arts Partnership will be reaching out to them, in order to represent all our members and supporters, and we look forward to discussing the project in more detail.

What are the questions you’d like to see asked?






Save The Date – June 10th

Wakefield Arts Partnership invites you to put June 10th in your diary for a special event.

After an exciting year of development for WAP in 2016 and in response to the city’s funding success of £223,000 through the Arts Council’s Cultural Destinations programme, we will hold a day and evening of events at St Austin’s Theatre bringing together local artists and cultural organisations to socialise, network, plan, share, create – and have a bit of fun too.

The event will be free and open to all. We would like to involve as many of the districts creatives as possible in this event, and in turn begin to represent them as Wakefield’s cultural offer continues to grow and develop. It’s your chance to get involved with everything that is going on, whatever your background or experience in the Arts is – all are welcome.

Please, save the date. The day time event will feature artists, activities, food and drink and will run from 2pm – 6pm. The evening event will be organised in collaboration with Long Division Festival and will feature live music, film and art. Details will be released over the coming weeks.

If you would like to be involved any any aspect of the event, showing your work, performing, volunteering etc then please contact Dean at longdivisionfestival@gmail.com for more details.

We hope you can join us to plan for Wakefield’s Cultural future. Feels free to share this with friends and peers.

Reflecting on 2016

At our final meeting of 2016 we looked back on the year and I think we were all pleasantly surprised to see how much the group had achieved over the 12 months. It has felt like the year where the group has really started to bed in and push forward successfully on a range of projects.

Our work in 2016 followed on from the ground work from 2015, notably the report written by Andrew Dixon in July 2015 which looked at Wakefield’s current cultural capabilities. We sought to build on connections with the wider organisations that had come to visit us in Wakefield, such as Liverpool COoL.

It may not sound incredibly exciting, but the fact the steering group had regular (and interesting!) meetings was an important step in solidifying the group. The commitment of the organisations on the steering group has made the whole experience hugely positive and inspiring for those around the table.

The big project of the year was the Hidden Wakefield Commission. Funded via Beam’s Arts In Place II Arts Council programme, Wakefield Arts Partnership commissioned Andy Abbott to create a project that sought to discover the hidden, unknown, under-appreciated, historical and secret cultural elements of Wakefield life. Using innovative augmented reality technology, and combining it with physical pyramid structures that appeared across the district, Andy and his team collected stories of Wakefield Cultural life, both past, present and future.

The Hidden Wakefield project is now available to explore online, and sits alongside another achievement for us in 2016 – the creation of our own website and social media channels which we will now continue to develop in 2017.

Wakefield Arts Partnership also had chance to explore outside our district limits and visited our new friends over at Liverpool COoL. COoL is a similar group of cultural organisations to Wakefield Arts Partnership, but is further down its road of development, including larger joint projects and additional resources, such as dedicated project managers. It was an inspiring and useful trip and will certainly be maintaining the relationship, whilst seeking to build more in the coming year.

Finally, two of the great accomplishments of WAP in 2016 were funding bids. Although our bid for funding to the Yorkshire Festival was unsuccessful, it was the first time that the group had collectively submitted an application, a process which included meeting with the Director of the event and creating a vision of a festival-type event in Wakefield. Writing funding applications is hard enough, but to complete one as a committee of different Arts organisations is especially tough! So even though the bid was unsuccessful, it was certainly an achievement for the group.

Over the summer, Wakefield Arts Partnership was involved with and present at all the meetings that were held to discuss Wakefield submitting a Cultural Destinations bid to the Arts Council. This whole process involved all the major cultural organisations within the city, and Wakefield Arts Partnership was proud to be there representing its members, right down to the smaller organisations and independent members.

Our Steering Group member Beam was chosen as the lead organisation on the bid and with support from WAP and across a frantic number of weeks, the application was completed with input from many organisations.

2017 got off to a great start, with the news the bid had been successful, with Wakefield being awarded £223,000 for a three-year cultural programme.

Wakefield Arts Partnership is now incredibly excited to meet for the first time in 2017, to discuss how Cultural Destinations will affect the city and our work, and for us to build on the exciting and enjoyable work of 2016.

Written by Dean Freeman.





Wakefield is buzzing with culture this February!

Here are just a few of the highlights…..


Open Mic Night – Women ONLY

Wed 1st Feb, 7pm, Customs House

Women’s Voices Ring Out event hosted by the Well Women Center.

The Empty Nesters’ Club
Wed 1st – Sat 4th Feb, Theatre Royal Wakefield

Club artwork 2017

Written & directed by John Godber

Join Vicky Barret for the inaugural meeting of The Empty Nesters’ Club. If your children have left home and the nest is empty, this is the group for you!

Vicky will share her story of empty bedrooms, fresher’s flu, boyfriends, long goodbyes, motorway service stations and trips to Ikea; and how she fought back to be the woman she is today: exhausted!

Derek Nash

Fri 3rd Feb, Wakefield Jazz

derek nash

Wakefield Jazz surges into February with Jools Holland’s alto sax player Derek Nash and his all-star Acoustic Band.

Sat 4th Feb, 7.30pm, Unity Works

Mik Artistik’s Ego Trip

 mik artistic

Coffee, cake and conservation

Thurs 9th Feb, 10 – 11.30am, Nostell

Ever wondered what happens when the house doors close for winter? See what the conservation team get up to, to look after this special place and have a go at some conservation techniques yourself.

Seamus Blake

Fri 10th Feb, Wakefield Jazz


We are particularly proud to present the world class American Seamus Blake with his Hammond Organ trio. This is an Orpheus Project presentation by NorVol Jazz and Apollo Jazz.  He comes from New York to play almost exclusively Northern Clubs (though London has also grabbed him).  The BBC will record one of his gigs.

Sat 11th Feb, 10pm, Unity Works

Mike Skinner DJ Set

February half-term @ Nostell

Mon 13th – Fri 17th Feb, 11am – 3pm, Nostell

As nature starts to wake up, join us for family fun from making bird feeders, scrapbooks, playing games, crafts etc. Find out more. 

Dennis Rollins

Fri 17th Feb, Wakefield Jazz


We present a quartet featuring Doncaster-born Dennis Rollins. This National figure is with a band of established London players.

Sat 18th Feb 7.30pm, Unity Works

Midge Ure

Sing! Dance! Act!
Performance Academy Pontefract Showcase
Friday 24 & Saturday 25 February


A chance to see some of the most talented young performers in West Yorkshire as Theatre Royal Performance Academy Pontefract hits the stage for their annual showcase.

The Family Band

Fri 24th Feb, Wakefield Jazz

Wakefield Jazz brings a band formed in Leeds together again after 2 members moved to London. The Family Band plays high energy music inspired by the work of Ornette Coleman.  This gig is subsidised by Jazz North.

Sat 25th Feb, 9pm Unity Works

This Is The Eighties with Terry Hall


Coming soon!

Gala Dinner & Variety Performance
Thurs 2nd March

Theatre Royal Wakefield’s Gala Dinner & Variety Performance returns for another year and tickets are selling fast. Unity Hall hosts a champagne reception and a mouth-watering three course dinner, as well as the chance to win a number of unique auction lots. After the Variety Performance, guests will return to meet the stars of the show at the post-show party. Find out more.


Harrison’s Garden

Luke Jerram Credit Helen Lisk

(Image: ‘Harrison’s Garden’ by Luke Jerram. Photo by Helen Lisk.)

Saturday 25 March – Sunday 9 July

Nostell looks after a very special longcase clock made by local born inventor, John Harrison. In 2017, this handcrafted masterpiece is 300 years old and to celebrate, we’re hosting a contemporary art installation of 2,000 ticking clocks by world renowned artist Luke Jerram. Find out more.

Wakefield granted Cultural Destinations Funding

Wakefield Cultural Consortium, consisting 16 local organisations, has been awarded £223,000 from Arts Council England’s Cultural Destinations initiative, for a three year programme, to enhance local cultural offerings and encourage visitors to Wakefield.

Wakefield has a unique heritage and a growing cultural offer – from festivals to cutting edge contemporary art – and as a result, is one of 16 successful Cultural Destinations applicants. Led by Beam, the consortium will see local arts and cultural venues team up with tourism businesses and the wider business sector to promote Wakefield as one of Yorkshire’s leading cultural destinations. Together they will embed culture within the district’s ambitions for economic growth, jobs and improved skills.

Partners in the Wakefield Cultural Consortium are: Beam, National Coal Mining Museum, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Nostell, Wakefield Council, Theatre Royal Wakefield, Wakefield College, The Hepworth Wakefield, Wakefield Bondholder Scheme, Cognitiv, Wakefield Arts Partnership, The Art House, Faceless Arts, One to One Development, Unity Works and Xscape.

Jenny Layfield, Wakefield Cultural Consortium, said: “We are so pleased to have been successful in our bid for Cultural Destinations funding. Wakefield is only two hours from London and punches well above its weight in relation to cultural and tourist attractions, the support of the Arts Council will enable us to start a proactive conversation with our regional and national audiences and ensure that Wakefield builds on its strengths and expands its visitor economy.”

Sarah Maxfield, North Area Director, Arts Council England said: “This is fantastic news for the North. This investment will capitalise on the rich variety of arts and culture on offer here – positioning places as diverse as the rural Lake District, the metropolitan borough of Calderdale, and cities such as Sheffield and Manchester as leading cultural destinations. Over the coming years we hope to see these ambitious projects encouraging growth in the local visitor economy, and attracting more people from across the country – and indeed the world – to these great places.”

Cultural Destinations is an initiative that was developed by the Arts Council as a result of a three-year partnership with VisitEngland, the national tourist board. The programme aims to increase the reach of those experiencing arts and culture, the sustainability of cultural organisations in local destinations, and to encourage the public and private sector to work together to support the growth of the local visitor economy.