Arts and Cultural Fund Projects

The following list details recipients of the Essex County Council Arts and Cultural Fund, supporting organisations and creative practitioners to deliver an exciting range of work and activity to engage with and bring communities in Essex together. Find out more about the fund here.

Since launching in December 2021, the Fund has supported 74 projects across Essex and enabled approximately 300,000 Essex residents and visitors to get involved or benefit from creative and cultural activity across the county.

Year 3 Recipients (2024)

Essex International Film Festival

An Essex wide short film festival celebrating the best of regional and international film talent will be delivered by Essex Film Collective. Taking place over one-week as the start of an annual initiative, the festival will be jam packed with screenings, masterclasses and networking events focused on bringing together professional like-minded individuals as well as providing a platform for emerging industry talent.

Taking place across venues throughout the county, the festival aims to put Essex on the map as an industry leading hub for film, support local and professional emerging filmmakers and make world-class independent cinema accessible across the county.

Essex Book Festival

To mark its 25th edition in 2024, Essex Book Festival will be devising and producing a series of countywide community workshops/activities under the heading of ‘The Book Project’. All of which will reflect and respond to EBF’s wider 2024 festival theme ‘THIS LAND’, which celebrates the rich diversity, heritage and natural environment that makes Essex so special.

The project will also include developing a festival charter, a collective community vision for Essex Book Festival looking forward to the next 25 years, as well as the return of Midsummer Madness at Cressing Temple Barns – including a series of five free family workshops around bookmaking and eco-craft.

Future Arts

Working alongside the Creative Tech Festival in Basildon, artist Connor Turansky will develop a new, innovative, interactive installation with the ambition to create a new artist-led tech-art festival for South Essex. As well as an interactive artwork, the project will include a talk and network event inviting leading tech-art innovators to showcase their work and contribute to a music event generated by algorithm technology.

The Feelgood Music Project

A collaboration between music charity Ewans Music Trust, Northwick Park Academies Trust and The Song School. The project plans to create messages of positivity, unity and pride of place that uplift the young people of Canvey Island, helping them to move towards better life outcomes. Delivered via a summer holiday music making workshop, the project will include an exploration of Canvey’s musical heritage, with the express aim of linking participants passion to their pride of place.

The project itself will bring together children and young people from the Island aged 10 to 16, who are interested in music making. Activities will include songwriting, singing, music production, recording, storyboarding, and filming. Participants will have the opportunity to experience life both in front of and behind the camera, as well as learning practical music performance and technical skills, such as recording.

Sounds Good

A new project from grass-roots music venue Hot Box Live in Chelmsford. The programme will include a pilot two-day city centre festival featuring local and national artists, training and development opportunities for sixty young people aged 14 to 25.

Art Exchange

A series of weekend outdoor arts activities for communities taking place from July to September 2024. Led by arts organisation Art Exchange, a contemporary art gallery situated in University of Essex’s Colchester campus, the programme of events will celebrate Wivenhoe Park and encourage residents to take part in green exercise and wellbeing activities over the summer of 2024.

Each of the arts activities will celebrate an aspect of John Constable’s 1816 painting of Wivenhoe Park, the last picture he painted outside at an easel. The programme will feature a series of artist-led workshops on sculpture, painting, foraging, and filmmaking, as well as a series of family-friendly events including a picnic in the park and den building.

Life Stories

Working with patients and families at St Helena Hospice in Colchester, this project will capture life stories through oral history, photography, film and writing. The project will aim to advocate that there is more to a person than being defined by their illness, capturing stories of life before death, and celebrating everything that made them who they are. The project will culminate in a physical and online exhibition which will coincide with the 40th anniversary of St Helena Hospice in 2025.

Asha + The Troll

‘Asha + The Troll’ will be a travelling theatre production for KS1-2 children by Harlow-based theatre company Matipo Arts. It will integrate a breadth of storytelling techniques to engage with 480 children across 8 settings in Essex, including those with additional communication needs. Using puppetry, percussion and visual storytelling, performers will explore themes of friendship, connection, and difference.

The production will be developed with children before being performed in schools and the community in Harlow and beyond into Essex. The project will also include an associated digital pack to accompany live performances in schools, focusing on literacy and other activity relating to educational outcomes.

Saffron Sounds Live

An inspirational concert experience and will reach 800 Key stage 2 students and their teachers in Harlow and Epping Forest. Led by Saffron Hall Trust, the project builds on Saffron Hall’s ten years of experience working in Uttlesford, and work in partnership with organisations across Essex, to draw communities together through high quality music and learning experiences.

Saffron Sounds is a package designed to facilitate multiple levels of engagement to enrich learning opportunities in schools. This includes a free-to-access online resource bank, school workshops and a specially created 75-minute performance from award-winning saxophonist Jess Gilliam and her ensemble for up to 800 Key stage 2 students and their teachers.


Orchard explores the natural and human constructed landscape of Cherry Orchard Jubilee Park in Rochford. The work brings together local residents, custodians of the park and artists, evoking the importance of green spaces through walking and creative action. Artists Close and Remote (Sophie Mellor and Simon Poulter), will collaborate with a range of people on a processional discovery through the park, alluding to the traditions of nature writing, hand making and music of the East of England. Participants will encounter surprise events across the orchard and park in general. The project is part of a wider ranging initiative developed by Cultural Engine and the University of East Anglia and will result in a short film that can be presented at other parks and spaces.

Brightlingsea Lido

Led by visual artists Chrissie Richards and Becky Jackson, this community engagement project will include a series of artist-led workshops in response to the history of Brightlingsea Lido in North Essex. Working with local community groups – including local care homes, craft groups and volunteers – the project will conclude with the permanent display of ten new artworks around the perimeter of the lido.

As the last remaining lido in Essex, the project will respond to its unique 90-year history, as described in a new story by author Ruth Loten. This story will provide the basis for the project, with each workshop and artwork responding to specific event or time in the history of the lido.

Youth Eco Project: ‘Our Coast’

This project will involve young people, especially those who are care experienced, involved with the Youth Justice system, families in crisis and those with SEND, from coastal towns in Tendring in a visual art project exploring local history and environmental issues affecting their town.

Led by Tendring-based artist Jane Stewart, young people will be engaged through a series of creative workshops across Harwich and Dovercourt where they will learn different techniques and mediums to create work around their own ideas and concepts.

Year 2 Recipients (2023)

Age Well East Ltd will develop a new Veterans’ Choir formed of attendees from Colchester and Harwich Veterans’ Friendship Groups, providing vital regular social connection for local ex-service personnel.

Chelmsford Community RadioCIC will run a new Radio Drama Festival with local schools, providing workshops on radio broadcasting, listening sessions and the recording of a new radio play broadcast online and on Chelmsford Community Radio.

Elevator Arts CIC will deliver ‘Hidden Voices’, a creative project in partnership with young carers’ charity Kool Carers, working with young people aged 12 to 15 in Basildon to amplify voices of young carers and improve their mental health and wellbeing.

Essex Book Festival are leading a dedicated family and young people’s mini festival under the banner of Midsummer Madness to be hosted at Cressing Temple Barns in Braintree.

Estuary Festival will host an artist residency on Canvey Island. Working closely with local communities, RSPB, Buglife and local community partners to develop a new public realm artwork in response to diverse local people’s ideas and perspectives about the environment, nature, and ecology.

Fresh Air Festival will bring leading outdoor artists to perform at a series of community events in Tendring including Brightlingsea Free Music Festival, Brightlingsea Food and Drink Festival, Brightlingsea Regatta, Back to School Fun Day, and Brightlingsea Carnival.

Harlow Art Trust will deliver a high-quality programme of exciting and inspiring arts and cultural experiences in partnership with Harlow Creates to mark its 70th anniversary.

Laura Jean Healey will produce a new short film, ‘After Ophelia’, which will be used as a vehicle to promote filmmaking as a career in Essex. The project will also offer trainee roles to emerging female, non-binary, and/or trans creatives. An inaugural presentation of the film will take place at Wat Tyler Country Park with a series of events exploring the portrayal of women in art and film.

Maldon Festival will launch a new ‘Get Going with Art and Music’ initiative. This will provide new opportunities for children, young people, families, and schools in Essex to enjoy and appreciate art and music and to enable them to access new performance and exhibition opportunities in the county.

Matt Gurr will deliver a community engagement project to platform the voices and experiences of young people in Essex who identify as LGBTQI+. Developed in partnership with OutHouse East, the programme will run concurrently alongside ‘Cowboy’, a new play by Gurr based on his experience of growing up gay in Essex which will performed at the Mercury Theatre and Harlow Playhouse.

Orchestras Live will launch ‘Good Company’, a radical new creative day-care programme which harnesses the power of the arts to engage and support vulnerable people living with dementia and other age-related illnesses/disabilities in Brentwood and south Essex, alongside their carers.

Shephali Frost will develop a new refugee world music project that will incorporate poetry and music from the refugee communities across Essex to capture their cultures and languages.

Thaxted Festival will launch a new Developing Artists Programme to provide a platform for professional musicians and composers at the earlier stages of their careers, both within their main summer season and through concerts and outreach programmes.

The Paper Birds Theatre Co. are leading a new project ‘The School of Hope’, which will give voice and opportunity to young people in Maldon aged 14 to 18 with multi-art workshops to explore the theme of empathy.

Wild Arts will deliver early years concerts, primary school opera and singing projects, as well as recitals in secondary schools, young talent showcases and a young talent apprentice scheme in Colchester.

Year 1 Recipients (2022)

Rob Ball: A community photographic project in Jaywick with accompanying exhibition at Jaywick Martello Tower.

We Are Music: To support the Simple Things Festival in Harwich, showcasing young artists and bands, and the ‘Rock the Tower’ music sessions project in Jaywick.

Ace Music Therapy CIC: To deliver choir activities for people with disabilities, dementia, parents with children with disabilities, and mothers and their babies.

Livewire Trust: An arts theatre programme across primary schools in Harlow.

Maldon Youth Orchestra: An instrument zoo and open rehearsal for primary school pupils in the Maldon area.

Craig Tyler Trust: A 12-week arts and mental health programme.

African Families UK: Music, drama, poetry, drawing and mental health sessions over the year.

Zinc Arts: Young people’s arts activity taking place in school holidays at Zinc Arts Centre.

Eastern Angles Theatre Company: To deliver theatre productions to towns and villages in rural Essex.

Applause Rural Touring: A pilot programme to develop community promoter relationships with rural and low engaged communities across Essex.

Signals Media Arts: A year-long programme of work to develop young talent, strengthen the creative sector, improve employability, increase digital and creative skills, support wellbeing and provide increased digital access for children from disadvantaged communities.

Dominic Morgan: Filmmaking masterclass and an introduction to the world of ‘zero budget resources filmmaking’.

The Christmas Carol Experience: An interactive installation of live and digital performances and art taking place across Colchester Town Centre, drawing visitors to the town centre, and entertaining shoppers, workers and residents.

Sabotage Theatre Company: A theatrical puppet show for pre-school children which will tour playgroups and multiple venues, inside and open air, across Essex over the next year and a half.

Shaun Badham: A series of artistic outcomes and public events to explore local knowledge associated with rambling and the preservation of Public Rights of Way.

Angela Moeke (Tape collective): To support the production and presentation of a 15-minute coming-of-age comedy drama film short film, Essex Girls, that explores the underrepresented and marginalised regional identities of Black girls growing up in Essex.

Dance Network Association: A dance on Prescription, Dancing with dementia and for new-borns and their carers programme.

INSTAR: A year-long, creative programme resulting in transformative creative opportunities and experiences culminating in the production of new public artworks and exhibitions.

Basildon Pride: To support a Discovery Hub at the 2022 festival and other elements of support for 2022.

Colchester Arts Centre: Intergenerational daytime variety shows across Essex.

Harwich Festival: To support the 2022 festival including public art exhibitions, theatre and music.

Lata Upadhyaya: A touring exhibition which will be exhibited outdoors in country parks, indoors in libraries consisting of a family of three lifesize Matryoshka dolls, representing the rich diverse communities of Essex.

Grand Theatre of Lemmings: A month-long artist led, community engagement event, culminating in a oneday Outdoor Arts event and lantern festival, in Manningtree in December 2022.

Hannah Walker: Public art and workshops in and around Saffron Walden.

Gibberd Garden Trust: To catalogue, preserve and share the unique materials of Frederick Gibberd’s personal collection.

Magnum Photos: A community engagement photography project working in collaboration with local arts professionals. As well as the printing and distribution of work amongst educational and cultural institutions across Essex.

Bethany Briggs-Miller: To develop the Eerie Essex podcast via pop up interviews and recordings.

Daniel Falvey: An exhibition of Martello towers at Jaywick Martello Tower.

Abigail Smith: To create, rehearse and perform a production of ‘Persephone’ – a retelling of the Persephone and Hades myth, alongside an outreach programme that will target young women and girls in Essex to encourage them to reevaluate what it means to be an ‘Essex Girl’

En Form: Children’s activities at the Colchester Eco Festival 2022

Walter and Zoniel: Public art project including outreach, design, production, installation and filming of project.

Aura Films: To support the 2022 Festival in October 2022 at Firstsite.

Theatre Temoin: To deliver a climate change theatre performance to coastal communities in Essex.

Rhiannon Faith Company: The Creation and national premiere of a new dance theatre show by the award winning and critically acclaimed Rhiannon Faith Company. CARE (a symphony) is a fierce, physical and heart-breaking dance theatre show about emotional poverty and community in the search for a better future.

Samuel Padfield: A participatory project taking the Harlow Sculpture exhibition and learning programme outside the Harlow Art Trust’s gallery space into the community.

Colchester Chinese Society: A 10-month programme of activity that will support diverse communities in Tendring to engage with the diverse communities via a series of events and activities that will support further engagement and participation in the arts.

Damilola Lemomu: To celebrate 75 years of Harlow Town, the project will include the research, development and presentation of an intergenerational audiovisual installation highlighting the lives, memories and opinions of Harlow residents from 1947 to date.

Unfamilars: Female led multi-disciplinary arts project on Mersea Island, exploring folklore and climate change.

Colchester Festival of Rice and Spice Group: To support the 2022 festival at Firstsite.

Essex Symphony Orchestra: To support 2022-2023 programme, including community and youth engagement strands.

Brightlingsea Free Music Festival: To support the 2022 Brightlingsea Free Music Festival.

Sharon Rawlinson:
 To support a mobile arts performance space, which will tour Essex events and locations throughout the summer.

Frinton Summer Theatre: To develop the festivals box office, capacity, participation, and audiences.

Sarah Bracey: Arts workshops with Safer Places refuge Harlow (formally Women’s Aid).

Ayodele De Souza: A Hair and Adornment programme.

Naze Tower: A year long programme of connecting people with heritage and the Arts at the Naze Tower with education workshops, illustration and digital workshops.

Wyrd Flora: Unique public pop-up events/ creative professional development workshops that will take place in various locations across the county over the late spring/ summer and autumn.

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