The Culture in Essex Small Grants Schemes are funded and run by Essex County Council, offering one-off project support to arts and culture projects within Essex (excluding Southend and Thurrock).
Deadlines fall on the 31 March and 31 October each year and awards of up to £2,500 are offered to projects which meet the schemes criteria.
With plenty of time left before the October deadline, Gemma Tully from Saffron Walden Museum shares hare experiences of the scheme:
I have experience of applying for and working on two projects funded by the ECC small grants scheme over the last 3 years. Compared to other funding applications, the ECC form is clear and straightforward and takes a matter of hours rather than days to complete. The Small Grants team and MDO are really helpful and are willing to discuss projects before you begin applying, they will also read through draft versions and/or offer advice over the phone if you ask nicely!
The two projects that we have had success with have been strongly collaborative and involved a number of individuals from different backgrounds from within Uttlesford (our local authority district).
The first project I co-ordinated was called ‘Re-imagining Egypt’. This was an art/archaeology project between the museum (and our Egyptian collection), an Egyptian artist and over 100 local school-aged children (aged 7-18) from two different local schools, one museum youth club and a local home-school group. The project focused on looking at the entire human history of Egypt, from the Stone Age up to today, and getting children to rethink their ideas of Egypt’s history so as not to see it purely as the land of the Pharaohs. The objects that we studied formed the basis of artwork that the children created with input from Khaled Hafez, an Egyptian artist, as well as museum staff. The artworks focused on different themes which run through the whole of Egyptian history: symbols/writing, the human figure, gods/religion and the use of colour in society. The artworks reinterpreted this history through these themes to represent a more inclusive vision of Egypt’s past. The children’s artworks, alongside art by the Egyptian artist Khaled Hafez and Egyptian artefacts from the Museum’s collection (as well as some artefacts loaned by the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge) were then incorporated into an exhibition, co-curated by the children, Khaled and museum staff, which brought together 300,000 years of Egyptian history and contemporary art works that re-imagined Egypt’s history as one integrated story, rather than simply prioritising Pharaonic Egypt above all else. The children had their own private view, designed their own posters and got involved with publicity campaigns, meaning that they also learn about the entire museum exhibition process. The exhibition was a great success, with visitor numbers increasing significantly during the 4 months the exhibition was on display. More information is available here.
The second project is currently underway. ‘Uttlesford: A community of Collectors’ is a joint curatorial venture between the museum and local residents who wanted to showcase their collections to a wider audience. After a public call was put out, a group of collectors were selected to take part in workshops, learn how to care for and curate their collections and finally exhibit and publicise them in a temporary exhibition. From walking sticks to jubilee memorabilia, animal skulls to national dolls, a range of collectors aged from 11-85 have taken part. While the first round of collectors’ exhibition is only just under way, there has already been significant interest from the local public, with many visitors coming just to see friends and families collections on display. We are currently working with the collectors who are in round two and their exhibition will open in late November of this year. Both staff and local collectors have found the experience really rewarding and learnt a great deal from each other and it is something that we are hoping to sustain in the form of a community exhibition case once this particular project draws to a close.