A CREATIVE project designed to raise the profile and celebrate the strengths of “one of the most persecuted” communities has resulted in a piece of artwork that will go on display in Rotherham thanks to a funding boost.
Rotherham-based Artful — a social enterprise using the arts as an inspirational tool for community engagement — received £800 funding from IVE, a creative education provider, as part of its micro-commission fund to support Yorkshire artists.
Artist and creative director of Artful Vicky Hilton, who founded the not-for-profit social enterprise in 2018, said the aim was to “open up access to high quality art provision and experiences in communities and work with partners to engage with people”.
She said: “We put in a proposal to IVE about working with the Romany community which is one of the most persecuted groups.
“We asked young people to share what things they were proud of.
“We chatted about heritage and culture, and there was a lot of idea generation through group discussion.
“Some people shared the importance of family, others food, or music. One young boy said he was proud of his community’s ‘resilience’, which is great.
“It’s about holding onto feelings and traditions and being proud of them, as well as dispelling myths.
“The next session was about turning the themes into a piece of art to be displayed in libraries and at events giving a voice to younger people.
“It’s been designed to look like a protest banner from the Miners’ Strike or the Suffrage Movement to make sure people look at it and see the important message.”
Vicky, who has worked in Rotherham for 20 years including previously as a youth engagement officer at Clifton Park Museum, said some of the people Artful worked with on the project included workshop support workers Mario Gabor and Roland Sarissky.
“I started working with Mario when he was a child aged eight — he’s just turned 20!” she said.
“We’ve established those relationships of trust that can help tackle negative perceptions.
“People can initially be quite suspicious — and rightly so when your community has been persecuted for years.
“But it just shows we’re committed to developing those long-term relationships and ensuring these role models are there representing people in their community.”
The artwork will go on display at Ferham Spring Festival — in Ferham Park on April 30 — then later at Ferham Children’s Centre.
The micro-commission funding from IVE — a bridge organisation for the Arts Council of England — went to 15 projects across Yorkshire to “develop creative practices that reflect the diversity of the region”.
Verity Clarke, IVE programme director, said: “There are many barriers that young people face in finding high quality creative opportunities that are easy to access and respond to their needs.
“Through our micro-commissions, we are supporting practitioners to be proactive in developing their practice so some of those barriers are lifted.”