What is Percent for Art?
Our Percent for Art team comprises of four arts officers who are based in our Community Investment Team and work across all areas of Bolton. Our arts officers work with residents, community groups, partners and other community stakeholders to develop socially engaged arts projects that help to improve our communities and benefit customers.
We commission appropriate artists or arts organisations, to work with the local community, and we manage the project from start to finish.
The Percent for Art service actively encourages individuals and community groups to get involved in schemes that can offer creative solutions to neighbourhood issues.
Ideas for arts projects can come from our neighbourhood teams and they will focus on specific neighbourhood priorities or be developed through conversations with community groups, partner organisations or other community stakeholders. Sometimes local arts projects are developed through wider Greater Manchester, regional or national networks or funding.
Our service also offers advice and guidance to our partners with regard to developing arts projects involving other social housing customers across Bolton. We have also been commissioned by partners to project manage a number of community arts and public / environmental art projects in Bolton.
Projects can be in any medium including visual arts, performance, music, crafts, digital art and film. They can take the form of arts based consultation, skills and confidence building projects, arts in health & wellbeing work, festivals and celebratory arts, as well as streetscaping and environmental arts projects designed to enhance the physical environment.
1997 Housing Percent for Art is born
If there was a defining moment for the planting of the seed it has to be when Gerry Fitzhenry, the then Bolton City Challenge Manager, showed George Caswell, then Director of Housing (Bolton MBC), what could be achieved with participatory arts work. He enthused and was persuasive when advancing the merits of arts work. This could probably not have been done without the richness of the material and consultancy projects that were all intertwined at the time. Nor could it have been done if the work hadn't aroused the excitement and passion that is special about the arts.
George was persuaded. His job was to set out in a strategy to be debated, argued and eventually agreed by the Housing Committee and Council. For a housing department to propose committing 1% of its capital budget annually to the arts, meant not only going into uncharted waters, politically it was like leaving all the paddles and sails and engines behind as well. Steering it through the Committee required political experience and determination, and much of the credit for that goes to the then Housing Chairman, Councillor Noel Spencer.
By 1997 the posts for one permanent part-time Housing Arts Officer and a second temporary post, for an initial three months period to help launch the project, were being advertised...
Excerpt from Graham Marsden's essay Housing % for Art: A History
Creative Solutions: The use of the arts in regeneration
Brian Lewis & George Caswell, Bolton MBC, 2001