Our 2020-21 Programme

2020 has been a remarkable year for Clayhill Arts. Like many organisations in the creative sector, we have had to make changes at a fast pace, the current crisis challenging us at every step.

Clayhill Arts is, by its nature, a slow-moving enterprise. We represent a stopping point in the career of a creative – an oasis of calm for weary travelers in what can be a long and all-consuming journey.  But there is also energy and strength here, and 2020 has certainly brought this out in us. We thrive on our industry-focused research and, like all true artists, our imaginative response to change is what enables us to grow alongside this ever-evolving world we inhabit. 

As we launch into our next stage, we aim to make our mark on the creative community in the same way that we have done on the physical landscape – thoughtfully, in harmony with our environment, and always with a pin-sharp focus on quality.

With this in mind, we are delighted to share with you our plans for the 2020/21 programme which we are going to be continually updating in response to you, our audience. Because that is, of course, the key ingredient – one which will transform us from a beautiful Somerset venue into a top-class art school.  And we can’t wait to welcome you back!

With Katherine joining the team as our Programme Coordinator earlier this year and having been given the opportunity to think and plan about our future during Lockdown, our 2020/21 programme has come about as a reaction to several things.

Firstly, our founding principles, focusing on facilitating communities and creating access to learning in everything we do.  Secondly, as a reaction to the changing art world around us during the ongoing Coronavirus crisis.  And lastly, out of a personal drive and ambition from the team here as a whole, which we hope is part of the defining character of Clayhill Arts.

So, what is the upcoming programme going to look like?  

Our overarching theme for the 2020/21 September to September year is ‘Physical/Digital’.  As a result the Coronavirus crisis, and the general acceleration of the digital world, we want to examine the effect of lockdown from both sides of the coin and offer courses throughout the year that reflect the positives we have taken from this time – and what we need to get back to.

On the one side we have the need for Physical – Can we replace a digital screen for its analogue counterpart for a day? How does physical making create a sense of community and well being, and how can a Clayhill Arts course provide this?

On the other side, we have the rapidly-changing digital world and its influence on the creative arts.  In many ways, lockdown has propelled artists towards a digital future and expanded connections with science and technology faster than ever. And are there places where the physical and digital collide? 

In addition to this we will have our regular Masterclasses, life drawing evenings, and Clayhill Connect networking meetups, and we are also offering for the first time a series of recurring themed weeks which will change throughout the year.  We are calling these ‘Hot Topics, ‘International Weeks’ and ‘Heritage Weeks’:

Hot Topics

It is clear that the creative economy is worth a monumental amount to the UK.  Not just in financial terms – although this is a substantial £13 million every hour according to the latest DCMS report – but also as a way to express ourselves and to keep connected in times of trouble. In light of the Coronavirus crisis, people have turned to the arts like never before but there are still so many ways in which art and creativity is failing to reach people; through lack of diversity, ever-increasing financial hurdles, generational disconnect, mental health problems and more besides.

We want to seek out those critical challenges faced by our audience and help make them part of the conversation. As part of our continuing programme, we are planning a series of ‘Hot Topics’ throughout the year where we will be shining a spotlight on those areas within the arts where the biggest challenges lie; championing underrated artists, sharing information and research, hosting interviews and live discussions and, of course, using our workshops to bring those all-important role model tutors to our classes.

One of the first of these ‘Hot Topic’ weeks is starting in February and will focus on the issue of the representation of women in the tech and games industry.  You can read some more about this in Katherine’s blog post.

International weeks

We are also excited to introduce our new regular ‘International Week’ spotlights, where we will highlight arts and culture from our neighbours from across the globe.  More than ever we live in a globalized world.  We may be based in the English countryside but in a technologically connected society, the reach of art goes far and wide, and so we want to find a way to celebrate that culture from across the globe in our little corner of Somerset.  

We will be holding workshops on world crafts, looking at historical influence and contemporary artists, and will even be hosting some internationally-themed immersive events for all those travellers itching to be transported abroad again.

This is kicking off in May 2021 with ‘Japan week’ where we will be focusing on the Japanese history of craftsmanship, as well as the country’s continuing influence on global arts and culture.  Read more about the workshops we have in store for Japan week here. 

Heritage weeks

At our heart is a deep connection with the land, our local history and with the tradition of craftmaking.  Many of these ancient arts are becoming lost, so we want to create opportunities to learn about these skills within the vitally important historical context in which they developed.  But heritage is about more that ancient history.  It is also about the places and events in the UK, that are meaningful to every generation – be it an ever-changing mural in Bristol or a Somerset cider festival. 

To celebrate this, we are going to be highlighting local crafts, industries and events through a series of themed ‘Heritage Weeks’ where we will run traditional craft workshops, host lectures and unearth some creative historical gems on our social media channels.

The first of our Heritage Weeks is going to be focused on Somerset and the incredible history of performing arts throughout this wonderful county, as a result of our free-spirited ‘festival culture’.  Keep an eye out on our social media to see what we have in store for you.

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