The Live, Laugh, Love Test Valley website continues to grow and attracts many visitors. Crescens George – TVAF Vice- Chairman and Julie Drury continue to manage it including adding more material to it. Bryan Beggs who has produced two editions of The Churches of Test Valley donating all the proceeds to TVAF handed all his book stock to us. The book is available through our website and selected bookshops. Sadly Bryan recently passed away earlier this year – he will be fondly remembered for his engaging enthusiasm and huge knowledge of the Test Valley.
Be Wiser Insurance, particularly Mark Bower-Dyke the Managing Director and Chairman, continues to support TVAF. They are particularly keen on supporting projects that encourage young people to write creatively and the Talk About Festival, the planning for which started last year, organised by Cat Randle involving a number of local schools, will launch at The Lights in June 2018. Very early on in the life of TVAF we recognised the need to do much more to engage and encourage the creative spark in the young people of Test Valley. The generous and steadfast support of Be Wiser has been invaluable in helping us to do what we can to make this happen. Aviva Insurance through Be Wiser awarded a grant of £1000 to TVAF for a Digital Technology schools Arts project to be managed and run by Chapel Arts Studios. The objective is to use IT – software and hardware - in educational creative projects, mixing up art and IT which is often separated within a school. These ideas were put into practice as a pilot with the anniversary of Capability Brown, the renowned landscape architect, and Mountbatten School in 2016. Work is progressing to build a library of equipment and ‘knowledge’ that can be used by all participating schools, with volunteers facilitating many workshops.
Chapel Arts Studios (CAS) based in what was a derelict chapel building in St Mary’s Church yard, Andover, was refurbished and modernised some ten plus years ago. TVAF was able to secure funding for both this building project and the employment of a part-time artist. David Dixon arrived in Andover! Over the years David has been involved in numerous projects involving probably every organisation in the area. Using CAS as a base David began recruiting a team of Associate Artists who, besides creating their own work, are also involved in many local community projects. These projects happen by securing funds through, for example, local schools and are often supported by grants from the Arts Council, Hampshire County Council and the Test Valley Borough Council. CAS has established a national reputation for running a number of very successful arts projects rooted in the community, often on a shoe string budget. This, together with the fact that TVAF has very finite cash reserves, meant that the Board quickly recognised that CAS required to find a more secure funding base from which it could grow. During 2017 CAS submitted an application for grant aid support as a National Portfolio Organisation to the Arts Council of England. The application was for a four year period which would involve CAS becoming an independent Arts Organisation with its own programme, governance and artist network. A huge amount of work went into this highly competitive and over-subscribed application process. The application succeeded! It would be impossible to list all those who contributed to the effort which went into the application – David was the key co-ordinator with Maija Liepins, our Treasurer Roy Chatfield and Mark Courtice. The investment by the Arts Council of England in CAS is a huge vote of confidence in the Test Valley and the County of Hampshire. CAS now begin an important journey to become an independent Arts Organisation – it will be challenging and invigorating but TVAF can be justifiably proud of CAS and wish it the very best for the future!
TVAF continues to hold dear its core belief that innovation and creativity continues to bring forward new ideas– the future will be even more innovation, creativity, joy and laughter!
Yinnon Ezra MBE MA FRSA –Chairman Test Valley Arts Foundation