New direction for Fleet Arts

Changes are taking place at Fleet Arts in Belper thanks to the appointment of new arts director Jane Hardstaff.

The community arts charity has been behind many exciting projects over the past 25 years, but with the growing interest in the arts in the mill town Jane believed she could see a more important role for the centre.

She is an artist, curator and community arts leader who had been working at Derby Museums for ten years. She is also the founder and co-director of the arts organisation Common Threads as well as a co-manager for the Six Streets Arts Trail in Derby.

“I could see that it was a great opportunity to really shape something and make a difference,” explained Jane, who lives in Derby.

“There is a lot going on in Belper and I want Fleet Arts to be a big part of that creative momentum.”

The centre will still stage children’s art workshops, creative projects and music events as well as other community activities, but it will also become more of an arts centre – more of a gallery space with workshops, artists’ studios, classes, courses and other events.

“The building is not in a brilliant state and we are going to bring in a new broom, refresh the building and give it a new image,” said Jane enthusiastically.

“I envisage focusing on visual arts, participatory arts, music and health and well-being. The centre needs to be instantly recognisable as a vibrant and relevant centre for creative practice and somewhere people want to come and exhibit their work.”

Soon after she arrived they got stuck in to taking part in the Belper Arts Trail which she says was a great success and they have just hosted a poetry workshop with the former Derbyshire Poet Laureate River Wolton to celebrate National Writer’s Day on June 21.

Drawing and painting workshops with Derby artist Deb Allitt have also begun on Saturdays and there will be the usual Children’s Art Club during the summer holidays.

Fleet Arts is run by a voluntary management team that meets quarterly and Jane says they would like to appoint some new members.

Anyone interested in getting involved with Fleet Arts as a management committee member, a volunteer or by simply sharing ideas can contact her on