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World Craft City bid seeks to put Stoke-on-Trent’s heritage on global stage

An ambitious bid to have Stoke-on-Trent recognised as a ‘World Craft City’ for ceramics has been unveiled. The plans were launched at a special event held at the Victoria and Albert in London.

Organisers say the aim is to shine a spotlight on Stoke-on-Trent’s newfound confidence as a leading city of crafts, artistry, innovation and industry. The bid is seen by organisers as an “exciting new era in The Potteries’ cultural life”.

The launch was hosted by London’s Stoke-born Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries, Justine Simons OBE, and the director of the V&A, Dr Tristram Hunt, a former MP in the city. Leaders from across the UK’s business, civic, education, culture and creative worlds joined  philanthropists and ex-pats from Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire at today’s launch.

The event, organised by Stoke Creates and New Philanthropy for Arts and Culture, brought together members of the Made in Stoke ex-pat network and invited guests to hear about Stoke-on-Trent’s rich philanthropic tradition as the city officially launches its bid to the World Crafts Council for Stoke- on-Trent to be a World Craft City for Ceramics.

Run by the World Craft Councils, the World Craft City programme recognises cities of craft excellence. If successful, Stoke-on-Trent would join a global network of over 50 craft cities from Trinidad to Jaipur, with the aim being to promote cultural, economic, and social contribution around the world.

Meanwhile, there’s more good news for Stoke-on-Trent with the Arts Council England announcing their commitment of £100,000 as part of their investment in priority places where they want to increase their support and opportunities for creative engagement. The number of National Portfolio Organisations in Stoke-on-Trent, which receive regular funding from the Arts Council, has increased from three to eight.

The £100,000 new funding announced today will enable Stoke Creates to participate in the Arts for Impact campaign led by the Big Give. Through taking part in the campaign, Stoke arts and culture organisations will have all donations they raise matched, leading to an additional £100,000 for arts and culture in Stoke.

London’s Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries, Justine Simons OBE, has also announced her commitment to support the ‘Stoke Promise’ for every child to have the opportunity to experience high quality arts while at school in Stoke-on-Trent. This will include developing their life skills, increasing their aspirations and confidence and asserting their place in the world as creative individuals.

Building on Stoke-on-Trent’s rich heritage of arts and cultural activity, Stoke Creates, the Cultural Compact for Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire, has received £850,000 as part of Arts Council England Place Partnership programme to create “cultural action zones” across the city.

Organisers say this will bring communities alive and animate them with the very best arts and culture. In addition, the city is now part of an accredited Local Visitor Economy Partnership to boost the visitor economy and has been chosen as one of 20 locations to get a share of the £200million National Lottery Heritage funding.

Building connections across all of these initiatives are the Made in Stoke Diaspora. This is a community of more than 500 members with a link to Stoke-on-Trent.

The aim is to connect people with opportunities to give back to the city, by gifting their time, providing opportunities or offering financial investment. Over the past 12 months, organisers say they have seen a significant investment from others, offering life changing experiences to young people by hosting a visit to the States, financing sports and ballet classes for children and launching a speakers in schools programme.

Lucy Frazer, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said “Stoke-on-Trent has a rich philanthropic tradition, and improving people’s lives through the culture, rich heritage and creativity it has to offer is at the heart of that. I applaud the work of Stoke Creates, Made in Stoke and New Philanthropy for Arts and Culture in connecting local children with this.

“I’m pleased that Arts Council England has used public funding to help create cultural action zones across the city and supported five more organisations to bring arts and culture to the doorsteps of millions across Stoke and beyond. I encourage everyone that can to contribute, so the city can continue to offer life changing experiences through the arts.”

Dr Tristram Hunt, Director, Victoria and Albert Museum, said “Since the days of Josiah Wedgwood and the birth of the Industrial Revolution, Stoke-on-Trent has been admired world-wide as a beacon of art, design, and enterprise. Our challenge is to ensure that spirit of creativity is nurtured for the next generation.

“The V&A is proud to partner with the many friends and allies of The Potteries to support this new era of cultural ambition with learning programmes, exhibitions, and teacher training”

London’s Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries, Justine Simons OBE said “Culture and creativity are the life force of our cities. They can be transformative for people as well as places.

“I’m thrilled to support my hometown’s bid for Stoke-on-Trent to become a World Craft City for Ceramics and put Stoke’s heritage on the world stage. There is a renewed sense of pride and passion in the Potteries and I am committed to help make real our ‘Stoke Promise’ for every child to get their hands in clay and to experience high quality arts in the city.

“I am so proud to be ‘Made in Stoke’ and I’m looking forward to seeing the potential this great city unleashed through creativity.”

Tonya Nelson, Executive Director Enterprise and Innovation, announced: “This new funding of £100,000 from the Arts Council will help leverage in additional investment in Stoke-on-Trent to increase opportunities for people from across the city to enjoy and take part in creative and cultural activities. The cultural sector in this country thrives on a mixed funding model of earned income, donations and public investment and we’ve been working with partners to unlock philanthropic investment for arts and culture.

“Our ambition is for everyone to have access to a remarkable range of high-quality cultural experiences, and for the creativity of us all to be valued and given the chance to flourish.”

Paul Williams, Stoke Creates Board Member said: “Applying to become a designated World Craft City is a fitting way to show that Stoke-on-Trent is an aspirational place of living heritage born of clay; a connected place of cultural, creative and community assets; an ecology of entrepreneurs, artisans, creatives and pioneering change-makers primed to make their mark on history again.”

Alison Wedgwood, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer at eWater Services and philanthropist, said “Everyone attending today’s event at the V&A cares deeply about the people of Stoke-on-Trent and this is really about them. It’s about embracing their fantastic heritage and the shared cultural legacy which, let’s be honest, really comes from a bunch of entrepreneurs making beautiful things from clay and successfully marketing them globally.

“In the 21st Century, we’re lucky that the UK is one of the most creative nations on the planet, and our mission is that every person in Stoke has an opportunity to be the most creative version of themselves; and to have the confidence to contribute to a thriving, energetic city.”

Clare Wood, Stoke Creates Board Member and Artistic Director and Chief Executive of the British Ceramics Biennial said: “For centuries, the people of Stoke-on-Trent have been united by artistry, craft, industry and innovation. Ceramics from The Potteries have reached every corner of the world, and so have those born and raised in this incredible city.

“Cultural consortia such as Stoke Creates are brilliantly positioned to harness this diaspora, bringing strategic and philanthropic partners together with those most passionate and knowledgeable about the future of their city. It is invigorating to be fully realising the potential in Stoke-on-Trent for delivering memorable and life-enhancing cultural experiences and contributing to health, learning, economic and social aims.

“Stoke Creates extends its sincere thanks to all those uniting behind the initiatives announced and launched this evening.”

For more information on ways to support this initiative, from investing in the Stoke Promise campaign, acting as a creative ambassador for the city or exploring wider opportunities, contact susan@stokecreates.com. More on the Big Give can be found on the website here.

Made in Stoke say they would like to hear from anyone with a connection to Stoke on Trent. They say that to find out more about ways to support opportunities for people in Stoke or to experience the joy of giving something back to the city and be part of a journey to transform the lives and aspirations of the communities of Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire, please contact kaye@madeinstoke.com or visit the website here.

 

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