“Arts Alive in Libraries” is a project funded by Arts Council England.

ADeC is delivering the scheme in partnership with Cambridgeshire County Council Library Service and CS3 (Cambridgeshire and Suffolk culture & sport consortium).

The project covers 8 libraries in the north of Cambridgeshire:

CHATTERIS (2 Furrowfields Rd, PE16 6DY), March (City Rd, PE15 9LT), Whittlesey (13 Market Street, PE17 1BA), WisbecH (5 Ely Place, PE13 1EU), Ramsey (25 The Great Whyte, PE26 1HA), Sawtry (Fen Lane, PE28 5TQ), Yaxley (Landsdowne Rd, PE7 3JL), Littleport (Victoria Street, CB6 1LU).

Each library decides how they will spend their allocation of the funding.

To help them with this, we created a varied and exciting menu of projects, shows and workshops for them to choose from; and provide ongoing support and guidance.

We are delighted with how the project is progressing. All eight libraries are fully engaged with the scheme and have all requested, selected and delivered events and workshops in accordance with the project plan.

The events kicked off in Whittlesey on 21st February 2015 with a Chocolate themed day of films and demonstrations including, chocolate stalls, chocolate making, chocolate tasting and golden raffle tickets.

One of the most popular menu selection was Robert Lloyd Parry’s ‘Casting The Runes’ ghost stories which toured no less than 7 of the libraries throughout March 2015. Here is a selection of the many positive comments:

Amazing. I thoroughly enjoyed the evening. It was a remarkable performance. Very different and imaginative. Excellent, atmospheric, absorbing, entertaining, spine chilling! Great event. So nice to come to something local and affordable. Simply brilliant! Hope there will be more future events like this. Thanks for a fantastic evening– first of many I hope!

All the libraries have experimented with film showings and ‘encore’ Theatre Productions to explore how their library space could act as a local cinema. Several of there have been themed events including craft activities, themed food and specially decorated spaces. Showing have included: Grease Sing-A-Long (Littleport), The Grand Budapest Hotel (Ramsey), Frozen Sing-A-Long (Sawtry), The 100 Foot Journey (Yaxley), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (March). The results have been positive with further screening being booked in.

The Opera Dudes have wowed audiences around the region (including a sell-out performance of 77 in Whittlesey).

Would like to see another evening of fun like this’

Audience Feedback

The Opera Dudes was a fabulous evening and well attended - the most successful event we have held. The two Dudes entertained us all with beautiful singing and lots of humour and they are two really nice men too. It was the hottest evening for ages so the fact we ran a bar was a good decision!

Friends of the Library Feedback

There have been a number of workshops for: Poetry, Creative Wring, Manga Arts, Spray Can Art and Lyric Writing. In Sawtry, 13 young people attended Manga workshops and the following comment appeared on Facebook:

Just wanted to say THANK YOU for being so generally brilliant! My two children have just had a fabulous half-day manga drawing workshop in Sawtry and borrowed lots of comic books that they can return to our local library (Bar Hill) ... and we're doing it again on Friday ...

In addition, we facilitated several highly successful book festivals in Yaxley, Ramsey and Chatteris (Audience feedback below)

This is the best day ever! Really excellent event – we’ve had such fun. It was amazing and really enjoyable. Amazing. Thank you! Fantastically entertaining, lovely event. Brilliant! Super! Fantastic! Excellent idea! Please do it again. My 8 year old daughter and I have thoroughly enjoyed the whole day – great to meet the authors and illustrators. The events were great fun. The crafts and book stall were also very good. We would love for this event to be repeated please.

The decision to identify an equipment budget for each library has proved very success; with each library choosing to utilise this in different ways that best suit their needs. In Littleport the library opted to spend all their allocation in one go to install black out blinds. These were installed in time for their first event and are now not only a wonderful addition to the library but are also invaluable to the Arts Alive scheme. The first two events held at the library were candle lit ghost stories and sing-a-long cinema - without the blinds neither of these events would have had the impact they did.

It has been very encouraging to see all the libraries embracing the idea of exploring how their space can be used. Library friends and volunteers have shown great commitment and initiative in moving furniture, bringing in lighting, setting up bars, blacking out windows and producing promotional displays. The results have not gone unnoticed by the public who have been genuinely (and pleasantly) surprised by the transformations of these familiar spaces.

Each library has brought in income from their events from tickets sales, refreshments and also donations. All this will help support the sustainability of future library events.

The events to date have been very successful and provided opportunities to engage with people who haven’t accessed libraries before. There has been a great deal of positive feedback about the events and communities have embraced the arts/cultural offer. It has helped to raise the profile and awareness of what libraries also have to offer.

Library staff feedback

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