Arts group celebrates 40th anniversary

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow and that is certainly the case with Derbyshire’s Junction Arts the seeds for which were sown 40 years ago in South Normanton.

The village community arts group was first set up in 1976 to provide alternative entertainment in the shape of shows, street events and workshops.

Today Junction Arts is run by a team of six, including two project co-ordinators and a managing director.

The participatory arts organisation and charity, which has been based in Newbold Road, Chesterfield for the past three years, works with artists of the highest quality to deliver challenging programmes which push boundaries and break new ground for people of all ages and abilities in the East Midlands.

Jane Wells, one of the project coordinators, is bursting with enthusiasm about not only the work they do but also the fact that they have been doing it for four decades.

“This is a significant organisation which we have sustained, evolved and adapted. Times are tough now and there have been tough times in the past for this community but we have a lot to celebrate and to be proud of,” she said.

To celebrate the landmark birthday the group have come up with a new conservation and interpretation project which will involve cataloguing the extensive archive they have collected since the beginning.

It seems they are not an organisation to have an annual spring clean – stashed away in 38 boxes were photographs, meeting notes, posters and various other ephemera all holding clues to the history of the group.

“It has been fascinating to see how styles and trends have changed over the years. Once the posters had to be hand drawn and some of them are really quite detailed,” said Jane who added that they were having a problem deciding what needed to be kept and what should be thrown away.

“The Record Office in Matlock is very strict about only taking a single copy of anything so we are having to be a bit ruthless.”

They have discovered that by 1983 South Normanton Community Arts had taken the name of Junction 28 because they were based near Junction 28 of the M1. Later when the group moved to new premises in a different area they dropped the 28 in favour of Junction Arts – the name they have today.

“We have also found photographs of people making beautiful banners some in villages we have yet to identify. We have been wondering what happened to the banners and would love to track them down as they will be a terrific historical record of how the places looked in those days.”

As part of the JA40 project the group are also recording oral histories from people involved with their work and they have commissioned a 20 minute documentary film telling their story  as well as a five minute piece of celebratory music.

Some of the archives, the film and the music will form an exhibition which will tour places where the group has been based down the years: South Normanton, Shirebrook, Creswell, Bolsover and Chesterfield.

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