Appetite for making art happen puts SWOCA centre stage

Branching out into the arts has led to new recognition for innovative community group SWOCA.

SWOCA – the Stoke West and Oakhill Community Association – were named Stoke-on-Trent Arts Volunteers of the Year at the 6 Towns Radio Awards.

Sponsored by Appetite, the new award was set up to give recognition to the unsung volunteers who work tirelessly to stage arts events for the people of Stoke-on-Trent.

The winner was decided by a public website vote.

SWOCA has been working in the community for several years and, in common with many similar groups, regularly staged fun days for local residents.

In 2010, SWOCA embarked on an ambitious plan to host an arts festival weekend, transforming London Road, Stoke, into a backdrop for arts installations, music, crafts and dance.

Marg Hardcastle, of SWOCA, said: “We wanted to get the message out that Stoke is a great place to live and work. London Road is a main road into Stoke town used by thousands of people each week, so we decided it would be good to transform it into an unmissable art experience.

“We commissioned professional artists to work alongside local people to create artworks which were blown up onto huge banners, which were displayed all along London Road.

“Attractions included 3D art along London Road and in our local park, a classical music cafe, bands in the park and an art gallery in a disused pub. We commissioned a group of singers and musicians to create a programme of new music and songs for the festival.

“We are hoping to do the same again in June this year and are waiting for the Arts Council to advise us of their decision to hopefully support us again.”

Marg added: “This year, we are going to be working with Appetite to present another arts event in the town centre of Stoke.

“We do it because we want people in Stoke to feel good about themselves and about the town and city where they live and using the arts is a great way to achieve that.”

Gary Cicinskas and Karl Greenwood of Appetite presented the award to Marg’s colleague Liz Perry.

Gary said: “SWOCA are extremely worthy winners. They have worked with passion and commitment to produce regular high quality events which enhance the life of the city.”

The Arts Volunteer award was a new addition to the 6 Towns Radio Awards which is now in its third year. The event highlights the achievements of a diverse range of people who have made a difference to life in Stoke-on-Trent during the previous 12 months.

ENDS

For media enquiries contact Nigel Howle by phone on 0776204346, Email: nigelhowle@o2.co.uk

Notes to Editors:

Appetite is the Creative People and Places programme taking place in Stoke-on-Trent from 2013 to 2016. Appetite aims to get more people in Stoke-on-Trent to experience and be inspired by the arts. This investment in the arts and cultural sector of the area aims to mobilise and strengthen the skills, knowledge and infrastructure that already exists within the area and provide unprecedented opportunities for more people to see, make and influence more art in the city.

The Appetite programme is funded by Arts Council England and is led by the New Vic Theatre in partnership with B Arts, Brighter Futures, Partners in Creative Learning and Staffordshire University. It is supported by Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

For further information on Appetite contact Karl Greenwood, Project Director. Telephone 01782 381373 (ext 310) or email karl@appetitestoke.co.uk

Visit the Appetite website at www.appetitestoke.co.uk