Hearts for the Arts Shortlist: Ipswich Borough Council, Eye for Ipswich


Shortlisted in the inaugural National Campaign for the Arts/What Next? Hearts for the Arts Awards 2017 for Best Local Authority Arts Project encouraging community cohesion.

The Norwich Road area of Ipswich has a high immigrant population and has experienced ethnic tension. Locally it is seen as an area to avoid and local businesses are suffering.

The area falls under the Central Area Committee of Ipswich Borough Council, who wanted to address Priority Areas One and Two of their area plan – tackling anti-social behaviour and improving community cohesion – and decided that an arts project would be a positive way to do this.

The Community Engagement Officer approached local pop-up arts organisation, Oyster Community Press CIC, to work with the Committee to develop a community arts project that would tackle poor community cohesion along the Norwich Road and attract people back to shop there. Other project partners included local immigrant support organisations, county councillors, schools, churches, businesses and charities.

‘Eye for Ipswich’ taught the visual language of printmaking to 24 local people, many of whom did not speak English, to give them a voice and means of expressing themselves so that they could create an exhibition to be displayed in the County Library during National Refugee Week. The exhibition aimed to portray life in the Norwich Road through their eyes. 13 nationalities, including local British people, were represented on the project.

Participants completed feedback questionnaires and all respondents said they now felt able to take part in activities with people from other countries. They also felt more confident in using English and felt they had learned about other cultures and about the history of Ipswich.

What the judges had to say:

Deborah Bull, former Royal Ballet Principal Dancer: “An imaginative partnership between the Borough Council and a wide range of local partners to address community cohesion issues locally, driving change and delivering positive experiences for the participants.”