Voluntary Arts

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Voluntary Arts
Voluntary Arts logo.tif
Head union President – Beeban Kidron
Key people

Robin Simpson, chief executive;

Peter Stark, Chair
Office location Cardiff, Derry, Edinburgh, Welshpool
Country United Kingdom, Ireland
Website www.voluntaryarts.org

Voluntary Arts supports, celebrates and promotes creative cultural activity. It works across the UK and Ireland to help create an environment where amateur arts and crafts can flourish. Voluntary Arts recognises that participating in cultural activities helps physical and mental well-being, and can play an important role in social and economic development.

Through a devolved structure across the UK and Ireland, Voluntary Arts provides information and training, works with policy makers, funders and politicians to improve the environment for voluntary arts and crafts, helps promote existing activity and encourages newcomers to get involved. It works with over 300 national and regional artform umbrella bodies, and through them, their member groups.

Voluntary Arts is registered in Scotland as Voluntary Arts Network Company No. 139147 and Charity No. SC 020345.

What are the voluntary arts?[edit]

The voluntary arts are defined as creative cultural activities that people undertake for self-improvement, social networking, leisure and fun - but not primarily for payment. The range of art forms is wide and includes crafts, dance, drama, literature, media, music, visual arts, applied arts and festivals.


Voluntary Arts has offices in Cardiff, Edinburgh and Derry~Londonderry, as well as project workers in various other locations. Each nation has its own website: Voluntary Arts England, Voluntary Arts Ireland, Voluntary Arts Scotland and Voluntary Arts Wales.


Voluntary Arts Week logo.jpg

Voluntary Arts Week[edit]

Each year, Voluntary Arts helps facilitate Voluntary Arts Week. Taking place for one week in May, across the UK and Ireland, the aim of Voluntary Arts Week is two-fold:

  • to celebrates the wide range of amateur arts and crafts participation which is carried out throughout the year
  • to encourage newcomers to get involved

Amateur arta and craft groups are encouraged to do something special for Voluntary Arts Week, such as run an open rehearsal, hold a workshop/taster session, put on a special performance or exhibition – anything which shines a light on their activity, and encourages others to join in. Events are then listed on its website.

The 2013 Voluntary Arts Week featured the first ever national 'CraftBomb'. This involved crafters of all kinds taking their creations out into the public domain, leading to a burst of colour in parks, gardens, on railings and outside buildings.

The next Voluntary Arts Week will take place frp, 9–18 May 2014. www.voluntaryartsweek.org

Epic Awards logo.jpg

Epic Awards[edit]

The Epic Awards are Voluntary Arts' annual prize for innovation and inspirational amateur arts projects. The Awards have been running in England since 2010, and from 2011 have included Awards for projects in Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

The Awards are open to any amateur arts or crafts group that is run by volunteers for no financial gain. They can be based anywhere in the UK or Ireland, practise any kind of art or craft form and work with any age group. Nominated projects can be long or short-term, as long as some or all of it took place in the twelve months prior to the Award deadline. Entries might include:

  • Groups who have teamed up with other partners
  • Projects that reach out to their local community or beyond
  • Special celebratory performances or exhibitions
  • Activity that sets out to educate, engage or increase participation
  • Groups who use new technology in innovative ways

One winner and one runner-up is usually chosen from each of the five nations, voted for by a panel comprising Voluntary Arts staff and board members, and representatives from local arts councils. In addition to this, there is a ‘People’s Choice Award’, voted for online by members of the public, and the ‘Peer Award’, voted for by the shortlisted nominees. An Award ceremony takes place each January/February, attended by the main winner from each nation.

Previous winners have been as diverse as the amateur arts sector itself, and have included a breakdance crew, all-male choir, drumming group and photography project.

The winners of the Epic Awards 2014 will be announced on 26 February at a reception in Glasgow. Details of the 24 shortlisted groups can be found at www.epicawards.co.uk


External links[edit]