Voluntary Arts

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

Robin Simpson, Chief Executive;

David Bryan, Chair
Office location Cardiff, Derry, Edinburgh
Country United Kingdom, Ireland
Website www.voluntaryarts.org

Voluntary Arts supports, celebrates and promotes creative cultural activity. It works across the UK and Republic of Ireland to help create an environment where participation in everyday creativity can flourish.[according to whom?] Voluntary Arts recognises that participating in cultural activities helps physical and mental well-being, and can play an important role in building a healthy, engaged civil society.[according to whom?]

Through a devolved structure across the UK and Ireland, Voluntary Arts provides information and training, works with policy makers, funders and politicians with a goal of improving the environment for voluntary arts and crafts, promoting existing activity and encouraging newcomers to get involved. It works with over 300 national and regional artform umbrella bodies, and through them, their member groups.[citation needed]

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[by whom?] as creative cultural activities that people undertake for self-improvement, social networking, leisure and fun - but not primarily for payment.[citation needed] The range of art forms includes crafts, dance, drama, literature, media, music, visual arts, applied arts and festivals.


Voluntary Arts has offices in Cardiff, Edinburgh and Derry[1], as well as project workers in various other locations. Each nation has its own organisation: Voluntary Arts England, Voluntary Arts Ireland (covering Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland), Voluntary Arts Scotland and Voluntary Arts Wales.


Voluntary Arts Week[edit]

Beginning in Scotland in 2011 and extended across the UK and Ireland the following year, Voluntary Arts organised Voluntary Arts Week. This followed similar models in other European countries including the Week of Amateur Arts in Flanders. 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 art 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.

In 2017, the ten-day event was renamed Voluntary Arts Festival.

Get Creative campaign[edit]

Voluntary Arts was one of the founding partners in the Get Creative campaign in 2015 as an initial year-long programme[2]. The campaign has evolved and has produced an annual celebration of creativity each spring, beginning in 2016. Get Creative Weekend took place from 7-9 April 2017 and included over 650 events across the whole of the United Kingdom[3].

The chief executive of Voluntary Arts chairs the steering committee for Get Creative which also includes representatives from BBC, Arts Council England, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Arts Council of Wales, Creative Scotland, Crafts Council, Creative People & Places, Fun Palaces and 64 Million Artists.

From 2018, the Get Creative Weekend and Voluntary Arts Festival are merged to become the Get Creative Festival. The dates for the 2018 Get Creative Festival are 17-25 March 2018[4].

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[5], 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 year, 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 Epic Awards winners' reception has previously taken place in London, Derry~Londonderry, Glasgow, Salford, Cardiff and Gateshead[6].


  1. ^ "Voluntary Arts | Contact Us". Voluntary Arts. Retrieved 4 August 2017. 
  2. ^ "Get Creative launch". BBC. Retrieved 4 August 2017. 
  3. ^ "Get Creative Weekend 2017". BBC Arts. Retrieved 4 August 2017. 
  4. ^ "Get Creative". Voluntary Arts. Retrieved 4 August 2017. 
  5. ^ "About the Epic Awards". Voluntary Arts. Retrieved 4 August 2017. 
  6. ^ "How to enter the Epic Awards". Voluntary Arts. Retrieved 4 August 2017. 

External links[edit]