Through the Bedford HSHAZ Cultural Programme, we wish to transform the Bedford High Street area with a series of events, activities, installations and opportunities for participation, so that it becomes a source of enjoyment, learning, community cohesion and civic pride.
The Cultural Programme is built around the delivery of three strands of activity over the course of the next 18 months until the 31st March 2024. Each strand will bring together local communities, local arts, heritage and cultural organisations, individual practitioners, and potentially, practitioners drawn from the wider region and nationally who are commissioned for their ability to catalyse, facilitate and offer expert skills to the local participants.
Our aim is to create a set of narratives that reflect the past and present lives of people in Bedford and how they interweave with or stem from experiences of the High Street, its built infrastructure, public spaces, heritage, businesses, institutions and shops. We want to transform the experience of the High Street so that it becomes a source of surprise, conviviality, learning, social cohesion and civic pride.
Small scale works – up to 10 of these will be funded between now and the end of the project in March 2024. They could take many forms and would generally attract funding of between £500 to £1000.
Mid scale works – 2 of these will be funded between now and the end of the project in March 2024. They could take many forms and would generally attract funding of around £5000.
A large scale participatory project with the capacity to bring people together to the High Street from across Bedford’s diverse communities, and which involves multiple partners will be commissioned by the Cultural Workgroup through the Delivery Partner.
We wish to be able to present a rich programme of work that animates history, heritage, private and public space, through multiple creative forms from dance to digital, installation to participation, and literature to live art. In order to achieve a balanced programme over the next 18 months based on the variety of forms and from as many different groups and communities as possible, an open call for small and mid scale commissions from community groups and individual practitioners will be made at the outset but it is appreciated that Projects may not be fully worked out currently. This should not put you off getting involved as it will be possible to submit to the delivery Partner an Expression of Interest early on which should set out the nature of the project and the possible cost. This will then be able to figure in the discussions on the balance of the programme. If considered for the programme you will be asked to complete the Application Form and proceed as required.
Strategic engagement priorities
Bedford has a diverse population and communities with both distinctive and shared histories. Key historic buildings, shops, the market, monuments and the public space of the High Street itself, all have different resonances for communities and individuals that we aim to explore.
We want, in conjunction with others, to identify under-represented communities and groups with low engagement in cultural activity, encourage them to bring forward ideas for projects and to support them in bringing those ideas to a state where the group can deliver it as they wish. It is not the intention to take over the delivery of those ideas in any way.
In order to achieve this we will be holding a number of workshops for groups and individuals to learn more about the project, bring forward their ideas and find out about the support they can get to further develop those ideas and their own capacity to progress.