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Arts for children and young people in Nottinghamshire

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Graphic of a handprint, a music note and paint splotches. The culture icon for Libraries Deliver[Editor’s note: Guest post written by Peter Gaw, CEO of Inspire – Culture, Learning and Libraries. Penultimate post in the series to introduce the new ACE national portfolio members]

Inspire – Culture, Learning and Libraries is the charitable mutual established in April 2016 to deliver a range of cultural and learning services across Nottinghamshire, including the public library service.

Inspire has a clear purpose, which is to inspire people to read, learn and enjoy culture. The opportunity to become an Arts Council England (ACE) National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) was a natural thing for us to follow up. We were pleased to be awarded £1m between 2018 and 2022.

Over the 4 years we will develop an innovative, multidisciplinary arts programme for children and young people across our 12 largest libraries, with further specialist targeted work for disabled young people. We will aim to:

  • transform family library users into arts audiences by providing increased access to excellent arts and cultural provision
  • develop high quality cultural programmes for under 5s
  • develop as an exemplar organisation delivering arts activity for young people with disabilities
  • develop and innovate digital arts within Nottinghamshire

Plans for Year 1

The library service was able to draw on Inspire arts, music and youth arts colleagues to create and plan a delivery programme during the bidding phase, which began in April with already some great success in terms of attendance and feedback. We aim to deliver in our first year:

  • 24 performances (over 3 seasons) of high quality touring family theatre - reaching 1,400 people (children aged 5 – 9 and their families)
  • 12 visual artist sessions and 12 literacy artist sessions in 3 libraries, engaging 360 people
  • 12 school sessions with a visual artist supporting schools with STEM subjects through art and connecting 12 schools to the National Initiative – The Big Draw including the creation of one new artwork and a touring exhibition of young people’s work
  • 8 performances of high quality classical music targeted at children aged 5 – 11 and their families in 7 libraries, reaching 700 people
  • 36 10 week block musical activity programmes in 12 libraries (3 per library) reaching 1000 children
  • Creativity Club sessions at 12 libraries (one per month) from Sep 18 – Mar 19 reaching 720 participants
  • 2 arts projects with disabled young people engaging at least 40 young people
  • 2 digital projects reaching 40 young people
Banners advertising two of the programmes running in Year 1: the Big Draw, and Adventures in Music
Banners advertising two of the programmes running in Year 1: the Big Draw, and Adventures in Music

Where next ?

Our plans for years 2 – 4 are to build on the year 1 programme, finding and nurturing new audiences.

We are developing strong relationships with other NPOs and cultural organisations to help us realise our vision, one the library service has had for many years, but without the regular funding required to sustain the growth in new audiences.

We are committed to sharing our experiences and will be working with the other library NPOs and through Libraries Connected and ACE to share our learning.

If you would like to find out more about Inspire and its NPO programme visit our web site or contact

Please note, this is a guest blog. Views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of DCMS or the Libraries Taskforce

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