Cultural Playing Field

Voluntary Arts Week 2012: 12 – 20 May by Robin Simpson
May 11, 2012, 4:14 pm
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Tomorrow marks the beginning of Voluntary Arts Week, which provides a unique opportunity to highlight and celebrate the often-neglected riches of the UK’s voluntary arts sector.

Around the UK nearly ten million people belong to voluntary arts groups and regularly take part in the voluntary arts. This includes activities such as singing in a choral society, acting in an amateur theatre group, folk dancing, painting, lace-making, calligraphy, pottery and bell-ringing. Every week millions of people take part in voluntary arts rehearsals, classes and meetings. This activity becomes such a vital part of people’s lives that it can be the main focus of their week: the day-job sometimes seems like a mere distraction from the preparation for our next performance or exhibition.

Participation in voluntary arts groups is, for many people, their main opportunity for social interaction – the place to make friends. It is incredibly difficult to measure the importance of the voluntary arts to its participants but it is clear that it makes a massive contribution to the quality of life, wellbeing, happiness and learning of millions of people across the country.

From 12 to 20 May 2012 Voluntary Arts is promoting the first UK and Ireland Voluntary Arts Week. Voluntary arts groups across the country will be running special events during the week to raise their profile and celebrate their achievements. Groups can add their events to the Voluntary Arts Week website where the full list will be published. We are also encouraging everyone involved in the voluntary arts to promote their activities through the ‘What’s in your Window?’ campaign, showing their skills by creating a crafty window display at home, or in a local community centre, library or charity shop during Voluntary Arts Week.

Please take a look at the Voluntary Arts Week website, take the time to visit some Voluntary Arts Week events, look out for the What’s in your Window? displays, try taking part in a voluntary arts group for the first time or take the opportunity of Voluntary Arts Week to tell people about your own involvement in the voluntary arts.

You can support Voluntary Arts Week in the following ways:

  • encourage more voluntary arts groups to register their events at (it’s not too late!)
  • attend the Voluntary Arts Week 2012 launch event in Falkirk town centre tomorrow: Voluntary Arts Scotland has secured the use of an empty shop unit at 43 High Street, Falkirk. Between 12 pm and 4 pm on Saturday 12 May the doors will open and passers-by will be welcomed into the space where they can try their hand at some of the arts and crafts on offer, watch a performance or two and find out more about the groups running in their area. There is a fantastic range of groups involved, with activities ranging from Floral Art to Martial Arts, and everyone is invited!
  • visit some Voluntary Arts Week events – use the events listing at to find events near you
  • tweet about Voluntary Arts Week using the hashtag #voluntaryartsweek
  • take photos of Voluntary Arts Week events and other voluntary arts activities and use the instagram app (free for iphone and Android) to upload them with the hashtag #voluntaryartsweek
  • keep an eye on the Voluntary Arts Week blog – go to and click ‘News’
  • encourage people to display their art or craft skill in a window, take a photo and upload it to the ‘What’s in your Window?’ page at
  • read my guest blog on the Department for Culture, Media and Sport website at:
  • join us online at 2 pm on Wednesday 16 May for ‘Voluntary Arts Week LIVE’ – a live video webcast which will feature Voluntary Arts Week highlights and interviews from across the UK and Ireland – go to at 2 pm on Wednesday to watch and comment live

Robin Simpson.


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