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ArtReach makes great art possible and accessible, connecting art with grass roots and diverse communities to forge creative engagement

COVID-19 Statement

March 17th, 2020|Comments Off on COVID-19 Statement

With the situation surrounding COVID-19 rapidly developing ArtReach are following current UK government guidance and also putting in place measures to minimise risk to staff, and our participants, artists, and audiences while continuing to operate. This will be reviewed and updated along with changes to guidance and circumstances, however key measures are:


To this end, we have taken the following precautionary measures with immediate effect.


  • The ArtReach staff will not be in the office until further notice, but will be working remotely. They will be contactable during normal office hours via email. If you do not have a contact, please contact us at admin@artreach.biz and we will respond as soon as we can.
  • ArtReach has taken the decision to postpone all public facing activities including workshops, community meetings and events until the end of May 2020. We are continuing to work with artists and partners to develop our festival and events programme beyond that (including Refugee Week, Journeys Festival International in Leicester, Manchester and Portsmouth, Liberty UK, and LIBERTY EU activity). We are also exploring alternative ways that we can share our work should that become necessary.
  • Where possible external meetings will be held through telephone or video conference calls.
  • These measures will be in place until further notice we will regularly review the next steps in light of the national situation and ongoing UK Government advice.
  • ArtReach will provide updates on plans through websites and social media. 





Current plans impacted by C-19


  • ROOTs Group Meeting: Monday 23rd March, 1pm – 2pm – POSTPONED until further notice
  • United for Laughs Taster Workshop: Thursday 2nd April and each Thursday from 30th April, 1pm – 3pm, Attenborough Arts Centre – POSTPONED – keep an eye on our website and social media for announcements
  • Global Kitchen:POSTPONED – The first public session is planned for Saturday 20th June 2020, however given the current global situation surrounding Coronavirus (Covid-19) we will keep you updated, and hope to be able to find ways to develop this programme to still bring people together in these challenging times.


  • ROOTS Group Activity:  All ROOTS Group activity in Portsmouth is being postponed until further notice.
  • Journeys To Portsmouth Textile Workshops: POSTPONED – All Journeys To Portsmouth sessions (delivered with British Red Cross and Stop Domestic Abuse’s Women’s Group) are postponed until further notice.


  • ROOTS Group Activity: All ROOTS Group activity in Manchester is being postponed until further notice.
  • Journeys Into Film:  Desert Dancer (Film Screening) – POSTPONED – 20 March, 7:30pm, Nexus Art Café, 2 Dale St, M1 1JW
    Capernaum (Film Screening) – POSTPONED – 28 March 6:30pm, Stretford Public Hall, Chester Road, M32 0LD



Interactive Artworks ‘Light Up Leicester’ for the First Time!

March 12th, 2020|Comments Off on Interactive Artworks ‘Light Up Leicester’ for the First Time!

In a partnership between ArtReach, BID Leicester and Leicester City Council, new light extravaganza Light Up Leicester drew approximately 206,000 people to the city over a four-day fun-filled festival – 5-8 March.

Thanks to funding from Arts Council England, Leicester’s newest cultural event kicked off with a buzzing launch at LCB Depot. The City Mayor of Leicester, Peter Soulsby delivered a speech alongside BID Leicester’s Simon Jenner, digital artist Sean Clark and Executive Producer, Sam Javid.

In fact, the ArtReach producer then led attendees on a tour of the interactive light works going through the Cultural Quarter with artist Stanza’s Youth Culture, up to Humberstone Gate and The Lanes, before finishing in St Peter’s Square next to Highcross Leicester.

Some of the attendees included ArtReach’s Audience Lab for the event. In the months leading up to the Festival, the Audience Lab was an inclusive, open space for an enthusiastic group of local volunteers to share and discuss their ideas for a Festival of ‘connectedness’ – meaning interactive, playable and ‘connected to the internet’ artworks.

Playing their part to contribute to a city-wide celebration, the group gave their opinions on this exciting cultural event, with topics including promotion and marketing or local perception of the Festival while meeting new people and getting to meet the artists behind the works.

While four of artworks have enjoyed success elsewhere in the UK as well as abroad, to complement these, ArtReach specially commissioned three new artworks. Together, they formed a trail that people could follow, or visit each individually. Though, many enjoyed the first experience thanks to the LoyalFree App’s special #LightUpLeicester trail, which promised the chance of winning exclusive prizes!

Equally, the Festival was a particularly special opportunity for the commissioned artists. In late 2019, ArtReach released a call out welcoming artists of all disciples and experience levels to apply since each selected commission benefitted from support with the aforementioned Leicester-based International Artist, Researcher and Technologist Sean Clark.

After this period of development and showing for the first time, ‘Shadowdance’ was an interactive installation by Huddersfield-based Impossible Arts, which transformed people’s shadows into gigantic colourful silhouettes and featured in many photoshoots over the 4 days. Then, premiering in Jubilee Square, ‘Unexpected Connection’ by Eccentric Events of Northampton brought people together in an interactive LED tunnel, while Leicester-based Mateus Domingos created ‘Traces’ for the hubbub of Leicester Market.

All the way from Quays Culture, in Manchester, was Stanza’s striking ‘Youth Culture’ – a 3-metre high sculpture of a youth that reflects audience interaction, thanks to its in-built cameras, screens and technology. But nearby, families loved ‘Wave-Field’, which features eight illuminated see-saws that are activated when people play on them. Then, as city-walkers finished up their evening shopping, Deepa Mann-Kler’s work caught the eye as she took inspiration from the global phenomenon of shoe-tossing to create ‘Shoefiti’.

Last but not least, Highcross brought Squid Soup’s Wave to wow passers-by in St Peter’s Square. Initially commissioned by Salisbury Cathedral, with variations shown at Burning Man and Canal Convergence festivals, Wave consists of some five hundred individual suspended orbs, which create an unforgettable walk through immersive experience. 500 points of light, 500 voices, interconnected using Internet of Things technology and acting in choreographed harmony, this stunning work was a huge hit!

Though there were other opportunities to get involved for those inspired to innovate with and share digital art. Thanks is due to the brilliant team of ambassadors and volunteers who worked with the public, permitting them to understand and fully benefit from the interactivity of the artworks. Over the four day, this also allowed opportunities form connections with strangers bonding over unusual artistic experiences!

Elsewhere, Dr Sean Clark ran a ‘Connectedness Clinic’, for local artists and residents to learn how to make connected and interactive artworks of their own throughout the Festival. But ahead of the main event, several local schools had a go at creating their own illuminated artworks to be displayed at Bean Gaming Café to inspire others.

Overall, festival goers, young and old, local and visiting, came together for the premiere of this truly special event. Light Up Leicester truly lit up the Midlands city with fun for families and friends.

Feel free to extend the fun from the weekend and have a look at the gallery from the weekend here: Light Up Leicester

*Image of Wave by Squidsoup at Highcross Leicester Chris Patrick Photography

  • glimmer theatre photo

Creative Conversations in Fenland

March 10th, 2020|Comments Off on Creative Conversations in Fenland

Arts & Heritage Consultant, Jo Dacombe has really enjoyed working on a study towards developing a Cultural Strategy for Fenland. In this blog post, she discusses the inspiring and welcoming people who she’s been meeting with in her trips to the area. 

In January, I was delighted to begin working on a study towards developing a Cultural Strategy for Fenland, Cambridgeshire. The study is supported by Arts Council England and commissioned by Fenland District Council.

We are taking a creative approach to consultation in Fenland, running workshops with people to draw out their ideas and inspire a vision for the future. Throughout February and March, I am conducting sessions around the district, and getting to know the place. The landscape is unique and fascinating, as is the heritage of Fenland, and the more I find out the more I want to know.

I’ve been talking to people in Fenland who are working within the arts and heritage sectors, as well as wellbeing and community development. There is a lot going on in Fenland, once you scratch the surface. I’ve met inspiring artists, filmmakers and writers, people with ideas and ambition, not just in their own artforms, but also about how Fenland can grow a culturally rich offer for residents and visitors to the Fens. 

I particularly enjoyed finding out about Glimmer Theatre, a Cambridgeshire based theatre maker, who has been touring a new theatre piece called River Runner. Inspired by the fens’ watery landscape, it’s a wonderful family friendly show with ice skating, magic and adventure, created by a theatre company that aims to unearth hidden stories that need to be told. 

I’ve discovered a lot about Fenland’s rich heritage too. There is a wonderful network of independent museums in Fenland, with 5 museums across the district. Run by passionate and knowledgeable people, they are constantly innovating to try new things and create opportunities for people to engage with Fenland’s heritage in different ways. A notable recent event was Octavia Hill’s House opening again for the spring season on International Women’s Day, Sunday March 8th. This was a fitting event to celebrate the life of one of Fenland’s great artists and social reformers, born in Wisbech, Fenland. Octavia was one of the founders of the National Trust, as well as a founder of modern social work. They also be unveiled a new stained glass window created by artist Hazel Perry, and launched a new Memory Booth project.

I’ve been working with local artists. Artist Marian Savill is helping us to connect to local people through creative conversations using collage, workshops where people can get crafty and make something to take home, as well as having the opportunity to contribute their opinions to the study. Make sure you follow the Fenland District Council if you want to find out about these sessions.

Young people are always important to consult with when you are thinking about the future. Recently I worked with a group of young people who are involved in 20Twenty productions, a wonderful Fenland organisation that supports young people through creative participation. The young people are helping me with a survey for their age group.

We’ve just launched an online survey too, to collect the views of local people. You can find it at the link below.

It’s exciting to get to know a place and to find out all the inspiring things that are going on. Fenland is full of creative people with ideas who want to grow their ambition and help forge Fenland’s future. My task, then, is to draw a picture of how all these exciting initiatives come together to build a strong, thriving cultural future for Fenland.

To get involved, complete the online survey here and follow Fenland District Council on Facebook or Twitter for updates.

Festival Coordinator (Journeys Festival International Leicester)

March 9th, 2020|Comments Off on Festival Coordinator (Journeys Festival International Leicester)

Salary £22,000 per annum (pro rata)

ArtReach is a creative producer based in Leicester, but with international profile and now recognised as part of Arts Council England’s national portfolio. Our annual cultural programme is wide ranging and since we established over 20 years’ ago, has featured some of the most spectacular large-scale carnival parades, major digital installations and pop-up theatre performances taking place on our streets and in open spaces for all to take part. Journeys Festival International (JFI) is one of ArtReach’s core cultural events and aims to share the experiences of sanctuary-seeing communities to a wider audience through great art and culture.

We are looking for a new part-time Festival Coordinator to join our Leicester team and help us to develop the Festival and to profile the many exceptional artists we seek to support through this important work.

The Festival Coordinator will work alongside our Associate Producer and Executive Producer to deliver a 10-day multi-artform festival across 12 venues in Leicester City Centre working with artists from around the world. Journeys Festival International is proudly the UK’s first Festival of Sanctuary (accredited by City of Sanctuary). The Festival commissions and curates a programme of work that explores the refugee experience through artistic and creative encounters created by artists who have lived experience of forced migration, or who have explored the experiences of communities seeking sanctuary. It is a vibrant mix of performances and exhibitions, including: live music; visual, installation, film and digital arts; storytelling, poetry, dance and theatre; discussions and workshops.

Now is an exciting time to join ArtReach, following award of a large-scale Creative Europe project, this role will be part of the many opportunities to extend our network across national and international artistic partnerships.

The festival will take place from 6th – 16th August 2020. The successful applicant will need to be available for the duration of the festival.

Closing date is 12 noon on Tuesday 31st March and interviews will be held on Monday 6th April. Full details of interview process will be shared with shortlisted candidates.*

The full application pack is available by downloading these documents.

Festival Coordinator JFI Job Description 2020

Equal Opportunities Form


If you have any queries once you’ve read the application pack please e-mail admin@artreach.biz

An offer of employment with ArtReach will be subject to  satisfactory disclosure report from the Disclosure and Barring Service. 


*Please note that ArtReach continues to monitor the developments around Covid-19. This means that although we are actively recruiting at this time, this is subject to change owing to circumstances beyond our control.

Leicester Cultural Prospectus – Building a Community

January 31st, 2020|Comments Off on Leicester Cultural Prospectus – Building a Community

The whole ArtReach team is excited to see the launch of the Leicester Cultural Prospectus, but no one more so than Managing Director Simon Brown. In this blog post, he discusses his experience in the city over the years. 

When I first came to Leicester a number of years ago, the ‘Welcome to Leicester’ booklet I received as a student described the city as “inclines towards the bland”. Some may feel that it is still a description that fits, however my experience is that it is far from that, and it is a vibrant city with a great range of festivals and arts and heritage venues. 

Recently there has been a drive in Leicester led by the local authority to show what culturally the city has to offer, and a variety of locally based cultural organisations (including ArtReach) have been showcased in a Leicester Cultural Prospectus. 

Though ArtReach delivers work across the country it has had its main base in Leicester for many years, and started Journeys Festival International in the city seven years ago. ArtReach has also delivered editions of Night of Festivals in the city, linking with the Rugby World Cup in 2015, marking the 70th Anniversary of the partition of India and Pakistan in 2017, and in March in its new form (Liberty Festival UK) it will be delivered alongside Light Up Leicester, a new light festival in Leicester. 

It has been great that work in the city has been recognised by the Arts Council with so many National Portfolio Organisations being based here, and it has been good to see those organisations working together in various ways. ArtReach has had some fantastic links with other locally based National Portfolio Organisations including the Global Kitchen project with Soft Touch Arts, Look Up project Stamp to Elsewhere with Leicester Print Workshop, and New Walk Museum Takeovers. 

There is far more cultural activity going on in the city than can be captured in one booklet, however the prospectus does give a great reflection on the positive work happening here.

You can read the full prospectus and enjoy the accompanying video on the Visit Leicester website here.