Arts Collective Go For Top Award

As the recession continues to hold the country in a vice-like grip, fledgling arts ventures up and down the country are feeling the pinch. With the government having announced Arts Council funding cuts of 30% over the next four years, many arts groups find themselves with a financial mountain to climb.

Urban Strawberry Lunch is one such group. Based out of the ‘bombed-out church’ on Berry Street, they officially became ‘artists in residence’ in 2007, hosting concerts, exhibitions and film nights. Originally existing as a music collective that specialised in making musical instruments out of bits of old junk, USL has blossomed not only into a creative hub but also a community outreach initiative.

Hollywood Homeless is a project they started which was aimed at helping homeless people to engage with their community. The idea was to send them out into the streets with digital cameras and take photographs of anything that interested them. They also learnt design and photo-editing techniques, skills that would stay with them as they re-integrated into society.

It is projects such as this that could be stifled when USL’s funding dries up in April 2012. With this ominous blotch on their calendar, Urban Strawberry Lunch has entered Natwest’s Community Force competition, in which social enterprises around the country enter a public ballot for a chance of winning £6,000.

Liz Carlisle of USL explained the impact of the cuts:

“100% of our core funding comes from the Arts Council. The rest comes from small grants or is income-generated. Although we entered the competition under Arts and Culture, if we do win, part of that money will be used for the Hollywood Homeless project.”

The idea that art can be created and enjoyed by people from all walks of life, not just a privileged elite, seems to be at the heart of USL’s bid.

They’ve got my vote. Have they got yours?


1 Response to “Arts Collective Go For Top Award”

  1. 1 oldrope
    October 23, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Nice one for bringing this to my attention. I have seen them working out of St Lukes a million times and it would be a real shame if their projects were to fold.

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