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Arts advice

This page provides information about the arts in Cheshire West. 

Where to find help

Chainlinks

The Arts and Festivals team compile Chainlinks, a free bi-monthly newsletter for artists working in all genres. This lists opportunities for artists to exhibit, sell and perform their work and also advises of funding opportunities, competitions, awards and commissions. The latest issues of the Chainlinks newsletter can be viewed below. You can also tell us what you think of Chainlinks.

Exhibition venues in Cheshire West

A short list of galleries and spaces in the local area can be found on this website but there are many more potential art spaces out there.

Of the venues which do persist, national or local authority museums and galleries tend to have a very long lead-in time (18 months-three years), though you can sometimes jump this by being on ‘standby’, in case of short-notice cancellations by other artists.

Non-gallery venues (cafes and markets for example) are best assessed and approached by visiting and talking to staff. Empty commercial or other properties can offer opportunities for exhibition. Letting agents signs generally have phone numbers which may be called for negotiation, though there are often costs associated with ‘free’ lets. Central Government funding support for such initiatives was very limited and in most areas has been used up.

Arts funding

There are many sources of funding for the arts, though some of these are diminishing in size.

Arts Council England

Arts Council England operate ‘Grants for the Arts’ as their main way of supporting one-off projects; details can be found on the Arts Council website.

Trusts and charities

There are thousands of trusts and charities which either prioritise arts or support arts projects as part of their community work (Esme Fairburne Foundation and Wellcome Trust for example) and advice on these may be sought via the Council’s External Funding Service.

  • Telephone: 01244 977786.

A comprehensive listing of trusts and charities is published as The Directory of Grant Making Trusts (Directory of Social Change). This is best consulted through your local library.

Chester Voluntary Action also offers one-to-one support to find funding for voluntary community and faith organisations. They have access to the ‘GRANT finder’ funding database and can run funding searches specifically tailored to organisations, completely free of charge.

Local elected members

Local Elected Members (Ward Councillors) have access to small budgets for community projects, which could be applicable to relevant arts projects. The relevant local member should be contacted directly.

The tax implications of being self employed

Most of the work you will do as an artist will be on a self employed basis, for which you should register with the Inland Revenue.  This will mean that you have to do your own tax return. Visit the Gov.UK website for guidance on filling in a tax return.

Make sure you keep a record of what you are earning, and what you are spending so you can fill in the form accurately.

Disclosure and barring service (DBS) certificate for running workshops

As a result of the passing of the Protections of Freedom Act 2012 there have been changes to DBS, meaning the need for a DBS certificate will now be determined by the  definition of ‘regulated activity'. If you are an artist or cultural organisation, then there is use information on the Gov.UK website.

Unless working directly for an organisation where they feel a DBS is necessary for the role you have been employed for, freelancers should expect to have to pay. The fee to apply is around around £4), unless you do voluntary work in which case you can have a check done for free.  You can't get a check done directly for yourself but you can get them done through various umbrella bodies or organisations.

The Disclosure and Barring Service also provide an update service which allows applicants to keep their DBS certificates up to date online and allows employers to check a certificate online. For an annual subscription of £13 applicants can take their DBS Certificate with them from role to role, where the same type and level of check is required.

Venues suitable for running workshops

Some arts venues will allow you to hire workshop space to run your own workshops.  For example Castle Park Arts Centre in Frodsham will rent rooms out for workshops

You will need to have public liability insurance and you may require a DBS certificate to do this.  It is also good practice to do a risk assessment for any workshop.

Public liability insurance

There are many different companies offering Public liability insurance and Public indemnity insurance for artists, but you should shop around for premium quotations for the type and level of cover you require.

If you subscribe to Air membership with Artist Newsletter (A-N) you get £5m Public and Products liability insurance for free. The policy is very broad and covers the making, designing, creating, preparing, installing, exhibiting and display of any works of visual or applied art. It also covers the lecturing, teaching or demonstrating of visual or applied art including workshops, residencies and community projects. Currently the cost to subscribe is £36 a year.

Risk assessment for workshop and arts events

You need to identify hazards, assess the risks which may arise from those hazards, and decide on suitable measures to eliminate or control the risks.

You will need to consider the following:

  • The event: location, time, duration, nature
  • The venue: capacity, site location, evacuation, facilities
  • Profile of persons attending
  • Fire risk: use of materials, equipment, machinery temporary structures
  • Other considerations: weather, communications, first aid

The headings below may help you put together your risk assessment table or spreadsheet:

  • Activity 
  • Hazard 
  • Persons at risk 
  • Potential harm 
  • Existing control measures 
  • Risk rating (H/M/L) 
  • Further action required 
  • Residual risk (H/M/L)

You might also find it useful to read through the Councils guidance document below.

Local artist collectives and networks

In Cheshire West and Chester we have Cheshire Artist’s Network which is a friendly, supportive network of a diverse range of visual artists and craftspeople. They aim to expand the opportunities for artists to develop their practice, make high quality work and run workshops.

Promoting my art exhibition or project

There are several ways to publicise your art exhibition or project, such as creating a website to provide information; producing promotional flyers, brochures, posters and cards; writing press releases for local and specialist newspapers and via Arts Council England. You can also promote your event by adding it to the online What's on guide. 

Do try to build up a list of your own contacts (buyers, interested parties, potential and previous funders, exhibition venues) to invite to your projects.  Aim to build on this with every event that you run by using comments books for example. Any contact details gathered should not be shared with third parties unless permission is given. Please see the data protection pages on this website for further information.

Ensure you promote your activity via social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, and if your event is ticketed, you can also create a page on EventBrite.

Further information

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