Regular readers will know that I am a graduate of the Writer Development Programme run by Yorkshire Art Circus, a fabulous organisation based in Castleford, which began life to help regenerate the coalfields decimated by job losses in the late 70s and early 80s; since then, they have supported all kinds of creative developments within their immediate community and beyond - WDP covered the whole of Yorkshire, and included me from East Yorkshire, plus people who have become friends from North, West and South Yorkshire. They are not only an organisation who support the creative endeavours of their immediate population and preserve the stories of their locality via oral history, poetry and short stories, they also reach out across the county to bring writers together and build up supportive networks.
It's really simple: I would not be where I am now without the help and support of YAC, and in particular, Lesley, Angela, Beccy and Lucy.
And now they need my help, and by extension, I'm hoping any ex WDPers reading this, or anyone who really cares about community arts, or oral history, or anyone who thinks that people's stories should be heard, will act.
This is the letter I got from them this week:
Dear friends of YAC,
YAC had hoped to celebrate our 30th anniversary next year, but unfortunately Wakefield Council has decided to cease supporting those organisations that are not regularly funded by the Arts Council. This affects a number of grass root organisations, and for YAC the consequences are serious. Angela, Beccy and myself are officially on redundancy notice, and unless there is a complete turn around from WMDC we will be winding the charity down and we will be made redundant at the end of this month (next Weds 30th April). we were informed of this decision at 4.30pm on 31st March, so the cuts were immediate from the following day (start of the financial year). Upon hearing of the consequences of their decision Wakefield Council has expressed some real concern and desire to help us. They have asked us to supply them with information about the affect we have had on the groups we have worked with, so we are trying to contact all of the writers who have gone through our Writer Development Programme. Any words of support from you would certainly be listened to!
To me it seems insane - the Arts Council has taken away your money, so we'll take it away too. Where's the logic in that?
Please, if you have had any contact with YAC and they've helped you at all, write and support them. Send your letters to Lesley Wilkinson at YAC, School Lane, Glashoughton, Castleford. If you'd like to see the press release, or would like any more info, please get in touch.