The Reach Art Project was a programme of artist-led public engagement devised to tie in with my commission for landscape designs for the regeneration of the promenade at St. Anne’s. A second artist, Sarah Jane Richards, was commissioned to design signage for the stretch and we collaborated on the public engagement side of the commission. We provided 16 different workshops, engaging a total of 335 people in the sessions.
We worked with 3 mainstream local primary schools, both in the schools and outdoors at a local park scheme ParkView4You. We also worked with Red Rose School which caters for the needs of vulnerable children between 8-16 with Specific Learning Disabilities. As a result of these sessions the children were able to exhibit their work publically at St Anne’s Swimming Pool (which was a focus for the regeneration plans). We provided sessions as well for the Fylde Sharks and Otters Disability Swimming Clubs, which swim at St Anne’s pool.
We delivered a series of drop-in workshops at various venues to engage the wider community in photography, drawing, artist’s bookmaking, kite-building, chalk street art and knit-and-natter sessions. In these sessions we explored the heritage of the area, finding out what made it unique and what people cherished about their town. We used two strategies; the bookmaking and photography projects for instance were explicitly focussed on the town and its history. Other sessions were more about having conversations, we found that crafting alongside each other allowed people to open up and reveal their character and priorities.
To celebrate the project we ended up putting on The Reach Art Festival, attended by 800-1000 people. There was an art market, bands, Punch and Judy, a storyteller and even a mini double decker for rides.
You can see more details at https://reachartproject2014.wordpress.com/2014/05/15/reach-art-festival-2014/
The designs and concepts which were inspired by the project are now with Fylde Borough Council who are planning to implement them as part of the Fylde Coastal Plan in the next 5 years.