Lucky Number Seven for New Vital Sparks Projects


Bringing theatre making skills to the pub, celebrating the city’s lesbian heritage and crafting your way to health and wellbeing are just three of the five exciting projects that have been awarded bursaries in the seventh round of Vital Sparks funding.

This brings the number of Plymouth-based creative ventures that have been supported by the scheme to 39. Many of the projects in this current round will also feature in the Plymouth Art Weekender (22-24 September).

Vital Sparks is a city-wide initiative designed to inspire arts, culture and creativity. Small bursaries of £500 to £5,000 are available to community, youth and residents groups who are looking to make a difference in their neighbourhood. This unique Plymouth Culture project is led by Plymouth City Council and funded by Arts Council England.

The bursaries awarded in round seven are:

Ernesettle Community Forum - £3,500

Vital Sparks funding will enable a large-scale mural to be painted at the entrance to the Ernesettle Allotment Project this summer. Opened in 2016, the allotment has 16 individual plots, a communal shed and tool sharing facilities. Encouraging amateur gardeners to share skills and knowledge with their community is a focus for the work. Artist Bill Finch is aiming to create a thought-provoking and engaging piece of art, working with local people to help promote the allotments.

The Art, Craft and Laughter Studio - £3,150

This project uses art and craft workshops to promote good mental health and wellbeing in adults. The studio believes that the act of creating produces a relaxed environment where people can open up about their mental health challenges. A Vital Sparks bursary will see the work produced from 18 weeks of free community workshops showcased during the Livewell Arts Festival in October. A free workshop will also be available during this year’s Plymouth Art Weekender - a three-day celebration of the city’s visual arts which features a diverse range of activities by local, national and international artists.

Pride in Plymouth - £2,500

Plymouth’s lesbian heritage will be explored through newspaper articles, archival interviews, short audio plays, video clips and text. These resources will then be used to produce an innovative trail focusing on hidden stories like the one of Mary Read who was born on the Barbican in 1695. After the unfortunate death of her brother she was dressed as his replacement. This set the scene for a life of adventure as the lover of the equally famous Anne Bonny on the pirate ship of Calico Jack Rackham. The trail will be launched next year during the 2018 Plymouth Art Weekender.

Plymouth Fijian Community - £998.57

A Vital Sparks bursary will support ‘Bula!’ - a fascinating programme of Fijian cultural activities which will take place between now and Fiji Day in October. These include wood carving, bark cloth printing, sulu (wrap-around skirt) making, weaving fans and salusalu (necklace) making. A free jewellery-making workshop using fresh flowers, shells, wood and raffia will also take place at the School of Creative Arts during this year’s Plymouth Art Weekender.

The Playwriters Organisation - £800

‘Upstairs at the Ark’ is Plymouth’s smallest theatre and a fitting venue for a series of free evening workshops in playwriting and an introduction to theatre production. The programme will be launched at the Noah’s Ark Pub during the Plymouth Art Weekender.

Dom Jinks, director for Plymouth Culture said: “It’s amazing to see projects green lit through the Vital Sparks initiative that are adding a rich community emphasis to the Plymouth Art Weekender. The event provides an opportunity for people to experience the best visual art the city has to offer. Vital Sparks is helping to ensure that some of this is generated locally in our neighbourhoods through grassroots activities.”

For more information about Vital Sparks and the many other projects it has funded since 2013, visit


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