Jemima Waltho, Arts Connect’s Operations manager, reflects on the first few months of our activity.

I’m not known for my grace and poise, preferring a gambol to a gavotte, but in this case I feel it’s fair to claim that we have been pretty swan like here at Arts Connect towers. Whilst presenting (we hope) a steady and calm presence across the West Midlands we have, since April 2015, been beavering away in the depths of the murky lakes of arts, culture and education. Wait, does that sound right?

What my clumsy analogy is trying to convey is that we have had a busy but productive initial few months, including; the establishment of a new team and working structure, developing and refining our programme, creating and maintaining new partnerships and networks, producing and delivering opportunities to engage with Arts Award and Artsmark and making sure we have a growing representation across the West Midlands.

Through our Partnership Investment programme we have invested over £100K to support innovative and collaborative programmes and will continue to encourage applications for support, to enable the roll out of transformative partnership working across the West Midlands. We will soon be announcing the successful applicants for the Development programme, which will award up to £75K to emerging artists and practitioners, supporting them to develop sustainability within their work or practice.

Staff have been proactively seeking opportunities to engage with new and established partners and have been out and about meeting with creative, cultural and education organisations across the West Midlands to ensure that effective strategic partnerships and networks are maintained, developed and grown.

We continue to grow our online presence and with the launch of our new website and brand we hope to increase the reach and accessibility of all our communications.

As we enter the last phase of our first year as Arts Connect, it is heartening to reflect on what we have achieved so far. But fear not, our combined webbed feet shall continue to whir away and whilst my metaphors may leave much to be desired, I hope our offers of support, networks and programme activity will not.