About The Project
DNA arts was commissioned by Bath and North East Somerset Council from 2014 – 2017 to deliver community arts projects and cultural interventions in four areas of need in the constituency; Twerton, Radstock, Foxhill and Snowhill. It offered high-quality arts activity for free to families, mainly of low-income and low engagement in the arts.
DNA sought to increase the local appetite for the arts in all forms, to deliver high-quality interesting work, create real opportunity for local people to be part of the creativity and social life of their neighbourhoods and to upskill them in the process. It did so, quite successfully, by working from the bottom up – working on a local level with grass-roots organisations, groups and people and pairing them with experienced, sometimes internationally renowned artists and makers to produce exciting and memorable experiences and, importantly to give local people the tools to do it for themselves through workshops, training and volunteering opportunities.
The project brought arts into the public realm; into the local shop, bakery, library and everyday life through interventions and events. It worked closely with local arts organisations, community groups, business, media, town councils and venues to deliver a year-round programme of workshops, interventions and events. The popularity of their most successful projects has created something of a tradition in the community.
Through DNA the same enriching experiences and opportunities present in the nearest cities could be found on a local, inclusive level. It was an innovative, collaborative and exciting project that responded to the ideas and skills of the community and made it happen.
Side note. The first year theme in Radstock came about because an attendee to the Naturals drama workshops mentioned that the biggest thing missing from the town was a place to eat / a place to go at night. The Desperate Men, Naturals and the drama workshop group started performing pop-up restaurant interventions in town and we focussed activities on food and how it brings people together. Funnily enough, later that year a restaurant opened in Radstock…
Yearly Attendance Figures
N.b. DNA art’s partnership with Somer Valley FM, a community radio station covering the region, garnered around 95 000 listeners a year.
We worked closely with the following organisations to deliver work; Bath City Farm, Southside Youth Hub, Somer Valley FM, St Nicholas Church Radstock, Blooming Whiteway Festival, Film Bath, Bath Festivals, Radstock and Westfield Big Local, Radstock Town Council, Radstock Library, Curo, The Gateway Community Centre, Entribe, Musicians South West, Action on Hearing Loss, Swallow Charity, Arty Buddies and Bakers of Bath.
The following group, schools, venues and more also took part in the project; Bath Area Play Project, Sustrans (Local People Foxhill project), Timebank Plus, Bath College Somer Valley Campus, Confessions of the Youth Theatre, Radstock Youth Club, Funky Monkey Studios, Avon and Wildlife Trust, , Wansdyke Play Association, Youth Connect Bus Foxhill, Community Bus, Sue Hill School of Dance, Acoustic Sessions at Victoria Hall, Southside Centre, Manor Farm House care home, Radstock and Twerton Scouts groups, Sirona Health and Care, The Co-operative Superstore and Somerset Guardian. St Nicholas Junior School, Trinity Primary School, Hemington Primary School, St Mary’s Primary School, Writhlington School, Westfield Primary School, Fosseway School, St John’s Primary School Peasedown St John, Norton Hill Secondary School, Twerton Infants School, St Michael’s Junior School, Roundhill Primary School, Bath Community Academy, Apple Tree Day Nursery, St Saviours Junior School and St Mark’s School. Victoria Hall, Whisty Community Centre, Southdown Methodist Church, The Rec House, Haydon Que Club, Midsomer Norton Town Hall, Radstock Methodist Church, Radstock Museum, Mardon’s Social Club, St Andrew’s Church Foxhill, Midsomer Norton Arts Festival and Haydon Village Day.
We worked in collaboration with a number of artists to realise our goals; Janet North, Dee Moxon, Pete Savin, Jaq Houton, Kay Alford, Janet North, Phillipa Forsey, Claire Loder, Megan Clark-Bagnall, Faye Joines, Ali Brown, Carrie Love, Sophie Haines, Charlotte Warburton, Joy Magnet, The Lamplighters (Bedminster and Church Road Lantern Parades), Kilter Theatre, Jenny Johnson and Deasy Bamford.
Light the Night lantern parade and event took place over October half-term 2015 and 2016. A series of lantern making workshops in schools, groups and at free half-term sessions created up to 250 lanterns for the finale parade. Natural Theatre drama workshops with local people created performances for the finale event/show. Overall 1300 participants took part, 10k interacted on Facebook and it made a real impact in local press. It was one of the most popular projects, received the most positive responses and has potential to become a tradition in Radstock.
“What a fantastic event this was, great to see so many people involved. Very magical evening. Last year’s event was great but this one was even better!! Well done DNA arts for creating something really special.” - Matt Swanson
“Thanks to all involved for such an engaging and creative community event.” - Ruth Wilkinson
“A beautiful, perfectly crafted night of light, fire, music and magical folk. Thank you to all who organised this event. Radstock needs more things like this. Brilliant!” - Esther Lewis-Smith
Round-about Radstock was a one-day community arts festival which took place in up to seven venues across the town each year from 2015 – 2017. The programme consisted of a mix of arts, dance and music workshops, live music, storytelling, street theatre, performance and arts activities. The event attracted between 500 – 800+ people each year and engaged 1000 people in event outreach projects prior to the day.
After 3 years of DNA arts the town will never be the same. A seismic cultural shift has occurred proving the value of slightly surreal, warm, creative engaging art.” - The Desperate Men
“Thank you for a great day out. Well done all on Round-about Radstock. I am inspired to get a Radstock Market off the ground. To kick start the process I have drafted a discussion document.” - Jon Durrant, the Potting Shed
DNA involvement in the Annual Easter and summer events at Bath City Farm was a highlight of the year in Twerton. By partnering with the farm we were able to engage up to 500 people in DNA arts through performance, arts workshops and activities. In 2016 we went onto produce a Lantern Parade to the farm’s popular Bonfire Night event.
“Everyone has been coming up to me to say how amazing the parade was, the puppets especially – it was really special. Thank you for making it happen. It must happen again” – Arabella Tresilli trustee, Bath City Farm
“That was amazing! Thanks so much to all of you for such an incredible event! Everyone totally loved it and we were all buzzing!” – Claire Loder, local artist and resident.
“What a fantastic night. It went really smoothly and what a great turn out. Thanks for helping us make such a great event. It really brought the community together and had a very special feel to it.” – Helen Fisher, Bath City Farm
To add something on the start of delivery in Foxhill... whilst it needs some tender, loving, care to become something really special we made a good start building a network there. We brought together all the key players delivering projects in the area for a community arts event in Springfield Park in May. It saw around 300 people attend over the day. All partners were keen to take part in a second event. Bath Area Play Project seem to have a good reputation in the area…
A steady momentum of arts participation grew in the communities. From year two to year three attendance almost doubled. These growing attendance figures demonstrate that DNA arts was wanted and that it was establishing itself and community arts events like Round-about Radstock and Light the Night into the social life of the neighbourhood. The project concluded having produced innovative, collaborative and inclusive work for 15 000+ participants. And, having created a desire for more DNA arts activity; particularly in Radstock and Twerton/Whiteway. To add to this...
· Community traditions were being born in Radstock (Light the Night, Round-about Radstock) and Twerton/Whiteway (DNA at Bath City Farm events)
· Strong network of people and groups who want to take part in future DNA projects.
· Six young people developed skills through boomsatsuma apprenticeships and internship programmes. Amber Morrish now works for ‘Confessions of a Youth Theatre’ and runs a weekly drama club in Radstock. Abby Gray runs a popular music promotions company in Bath.
· Six local artists developed their skills to deliver high-quality community arts workshops
· 100+ volunteers took part in DNA events
· Some volunteers impassioned to start their own projects - Jon Durrant organising Midsomer Norton Market this year and Clair Loder launched Blooming Whiteway Festival.
· Interactive with diverse groups - participants included families, young people, children, over 65s and groups who support people with a disability or a mental illness.
· Expertise from the consortium helped other groups like Blooming Whiteway and Timebank Plus deliver events and outreach programmes.
Below is a selection of images from some of the great DNA Arts events from the past few years.