Cradley Heath Creative

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Cradley Heath Creative started in 2013 with members who either work in the arts or who have a well embedded practice in their lives. The group give profile to local artists and arts activity including organizing an annual programme of festivals. 2017 also sees them join The Big Sleuth and take their wonderful mobile venue the ‘Oss box’ out to events across the region. The group’s Fran Wilde tells us more.

What will the group be doing for the rest of 2017?
Following our Arts Festival during May we will be part of the Women Chainmakers Festival on 1st July, and the Christmas Lights in November. Some members of the group are interested in running a second festival, perhaps for film, so we will be looking at options for the autumn.
We are going to be working with volunteers and students from Halesowen College on The Big Sleuth – the equivalent of The Big Hoot in 2015. Our bear will be decorated and permanently installed in Haden Hill Park in the summer. This is the first time our group has worked directly with young people, so it will be good experience.

The Oss Box is a brilliant idea – how did you come up with it?
We were playing with the idea of a mobile venue to give artists and performers space to experiment, because managing a building was beyond our resources. A caravan was too restrictive, but a horse box gives open access and we have members who are skilled in construction and metal work. There was a trailer going on the internet for just about what we had in the bank, so Oss Box came our way. It’s available to organisations and individuals who want to use it for creative and community activity – we look to cover running costs and just ask that people have their own public liability insurance.

What have been your favourite art events since you started the group?
The Arts Festival is always fun and brings out people from the woodwork. Oss Box has provided a few – a food exchange at the Women Chainmakers Festival in 2015, creating a shadow puppet play – with the screen at the arched end. Paintball By Numbers – a whacking great image 10’ x 20’ – came out of a collective paint by numbers that we ran at a couple of festivals, and we decorated a young mulberry tree with old fashioned fabric light shades adorned with scrap jewellery as part of national tree decorating week.

Can you tell us how your partnership with Haden Hill House and the stables are doing? What plans you have for the future?
Last year, through our Open Access award from Creative Black Country, we started a working relationship with the Friends Group and museum staff at Haden Hill House. We ran five public events which gave us a practical basis for thinking about how we could work together. We recently had a meeting where we looked at opportunities for a Cradley Heath Creative presence at Haden Hill House’s open days, and how the House could be involved in our festival. One of our members would like to have a late night/overnight creative writing workshop in the museum.

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