Caldmore Village Festival

‘The common denominator in the communities were the similarities, and not the differences, between cultures in Caldmore; an enjoyment of food, the arts and music.’

Caldmore is a culturally diverse area in central Walsall. The Caldmore Village Festival project was a massive undertaking to involve all communities to celebrate the area. The creation of it was a team effort involving scores of people.

There were two people in particular who saw the potential of using the arts as a cohesive force in the Caldmore community: Mark Webster and Mohamed Arif.

Mark, a Caldmore resident for over twenty-five years and a founder member of Walsall Community Arts Team, approached the Team and suggested the idea of looking into a multi-cultural festival.

The chance to make it real came when Arif, a Walsall Councillor representing St Matthew’s ward, worked with the Team on a Council- led, borough-wide evaluation of the Local Committee process. After an initial evaluation, Arif asked the Team to come back and take a much more in-depth look at Caldmore’s social problems and see if they could, working with local people, find a way forward.


Public Art & the Brownhills Miner

The Brownhills Miner was part of the ‘Gateways’ project, a Walsall-wide initiative to improve the visual impact for people entering and travelling through the Borough.

Brownhills was awarded SRB (Single Regeneration Budget) funding in the round awarded to Walsall Borough.

After a series of meetings with the SRB committee and much background work, the project began in 2004. The Miner was finally installed on 17th May 2006.
The Team’s job during the two-year process was to make sure the public art project was a success and was delivered on time and on budget. Our focus on local people’s needs, hopes and aspirations was fundamental to how we approached the task.


Max Bailey and Varied Ability

“We arranged for this pioneering Disability Arts artist from London to come to here as part of the Rampant tour. We were used to basket weaving and other such day centre arts and crafts activities here in Walsall. As I stood there wide-eyed while he threw himself out of his wheelchair in an ‘artistic’ display of passion I leaned over to Max and said: ’I’m not quite sure Walsall is ready for this mate…!’”

Donna Mendonca, Project Manager, Social Care and Inclusion, Walsall Council

Amongst a sea of community arts Luddites, Max Bailey was a pioneer of new technology. Many years ago he was quick to realise that technology needed to be at everyone’s fingertips in the fight against inequality. His project PEALS helped scores of people from single moms to out-of-work steel men access the Internet for the first time and learn how to use a computer. PEALS earned him the respect of the Black Country Consortium, leading to work across the other Black Country boroughs as well as Walsall. They loved the way he could communicate their corporate messages to a community audience in a language they not only understood, but responded to.


Mix It Up and Make It Nice

“It was about things that parents could do or recreate at home for 50p. They couldn’t necessarily do a professional puppet show but they could make a puppet out of something that their child had spilt their dinner down, or their tights that they’d ripped, or the single glove when they’d lost the other one.”

“Mix It Up and Make It Nice” was a three-year project exploring parent-child communication and the development of self-esteem in young children. The Team worked in partnership with Walsall Primary Care Trust and the Early Years Unit to develop participatory arts projects to encourage parents of young children to explore new ways to communicate, build positive self-esteem and implement change in their own relationships with their children.


Looked after Children

“Remember when it was me who was that age and we used to do all the Team A arts and drama stuff? Great fun that was. I get it now, what you were doing with us. I know what they’re going through and even though I’m an adult now it still hurts sometimes. It’s great being a mentor but it’s hard to distance yourself from the kids and be a role model for them, because there have been times this weekend when I just wanted to sit down and cry. How can people hurt kids like we’ve been hurt? I haven’t told any of the little ones that I was brought up in care, but I thought it may help them if I did. Do you think I should? They could see then that you do grow up OK. Thank you for what you do. I mean that.”

Teenage Mentor on the LoL project

One of the Team’s greatest joys was working with the borough’s Looked After Children and Young People. On average, there were always around 450 youngsters in the care of the local authority and the Team developed a whole range of arts projects over the years to cater for all ages, from tots to teens.


Let’s Talk About Sex

(Quote from Carol)

By September 2000 the team’s arts and health work commissioned by Walsall NHS Primary Care Trust was rapidly growing. There was a recognised need as well as an aspiration by Walsall Healthy Schools Team to have a designated post to support mainstream schools, special schools and pupil referral units in the borough to creatively deliver the personal, social and health education curriculum (PSHE).

Teenage Pregnancy lead Diane McNulty and Walsall’s Healthy Schools Co-ordinator Fran Oaker provided the initial funding and strategic support for the recruitment of a post which then led to the delivery of a varied and unique programme of Arts into PSHE projects. What started as a one year post extended for many more years due to the success of the projects delivered which has included teacher training days, arts project delivery and the legacy of hundreds of PSHE resources produced in consultation with local children and young people, health professionals and teaching staff.


End of Life Care

Through the different healthcare-based projects the Team has been involved in, it was evident that the arts aid people’s self-expression and communication. Using the arts strengthens relationships between people. The use of the arts creates calming, enriching and contemplative activities in all healthcare settings. 

We were privileged to work with people being cared for at the end of their lives and delivered three projects over seven years. The work began in September 2009 with ’Goscote Monumental Arts Project ‘, at the then still to be built Walsall Hospice, now known as St Giles Hospice. Here artists took as the theme for their work ’Celebrating Life’ with day hospice patients, staff and volunteers. Their job was to create new pieces of public art work for inside and within the grounds of the new Palliative Care Centre.