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Chelmsford’s creative community comes together to make their voices heard

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Ignite Chelmsford, a network of local creatives formed in 2017, has revised its objectives and developed a new Action Plan. This is in response to Chelmsford’s Cultural Strategy, aiming to amplify local artistic voices in decision-making and showcase Chelmsford’s creative talent.

A renewed focus on representing professional and aspiring creatives

Going forward, Ignite will focus on representing professional and aspiring creatives – particularly those who work, volunteer or study in the creative industries in Chelmsford. The aim is to hone a clear and prominent voice for the creative community, which Ignite can channel to influence strategy and investment across the district.

This will mean creatives on the ground will be given a voice to feed directly into the delivery of the new Cultural Strategy for Chelmsford, shaping the cultural landscape now and for years to come. Ultimately, Ignite hopes to grow a creatively thriving and significant district.

Central to its plans, Ignite intends to reach more communities, bringing in members that represent the full breadth of creative talent across Chelmsford.

An increased programme of events to support members

Chelmsford City Council has supported Ignite’s refocus, working with partners and the wider membership to facilitate the development of the new plan. Ignite already runs regular creative and networking events. The new plan aims to increase these activities to include:

  • Opportunities to showcase the work of members, such as art fairs, exhibitions, blogs, and podcasts.
  • Supporting new creative projects to get off the ground, for example helping much-loved local music venue Hotbox to develop a new multi-venue music festival for Chelmsford.
  • Bringing people together to collaborate, through Online Hub meetings, newsletters and Ignite Socials, including talks from ground-breaking local and national speakers.
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Artist Sian Fan shares details about her work

An open call for new partners to drive Ignite’s Action Plan

Driving the plan is the Ignite Partnership. Partners are volunteers who act as ambassadors for Ignite members. They work together to understand and champion the priorities of the creative community. This includes regularly meeting with independent charity Culture Chelmsford, the City Council, and other relevant organisations to discuss challenges, opportunities, and strategy.

Ignite has just launched an open call for new partners to help lead this new phase of work. They are looking for applicants who are professionals, aspiring professionals, or volunteers in the creative industries – aiming to represent a range of disciplines, different communities, and localities across Chelmsford.

Sangita Mittra, an Ignite Partner and Managing Director of the New Generation Development Agency (NGDA), says partners are crucial to the success of Ignite’s new Action Plan:

“As a community development worker on the ground, I often see good ideas fall by the wayside due to a lack of strategic support and what are often simple-to-solve barriers. Being part of the Ignite Chelmsford Partnership has allowed me to play an active role in listening, connecting people and encouraging creativity to flourish – whether that’s through developing new ideas or helping established initiatives to grow.”

Sangita Mittra, Ignite Partner and Managing Director of the New Generation Development Agency (NGDA)

Ignite Member Dave Hughes has seen his music venue Hotbox in Chelmsford benefit from Ignite’s support:

“Ignite Chelmsford encouraged us and gave us the confidence and connections to take a seed of an idea and start turning it into reality. Ignite provided the space and external expertise to help us develop a fundable proposition and connected us to national funders and peers across the country who could share relatable experiences and advice with us.”

Dave Hughes, Hotbox founder and Ignite Member

If you think the Ignite Partnership might be for you, you can express an interest via their website by Monday 18 September or email hello@ignitechelmsford.gov.uk to discuss further.

Get involved in Chelmsford’s growing creative community

While Ignite will focus on supporting professionals and aspiring creative members, anyone is welcome to be a friend. Friends can join Ignite’s mailing list and come along to monthly socials where you can share ideas and perspectives.

To become a member of Ignite sign up for free here. By becoming a member you’ll gain access to Ignite’s creative support and resources. To become a friend of Ignite sign up to our mailing list here. Come along to an Ignite Social or Hub meeting and see what it’s about – or tell a friend if they are interested in the arts. 

Upcoming Ignite Socials

The next Ignite Social is Thursday 14 September from 7pm. Young people will take over the agenda for September, sharing their cultural experiences and creative passions.

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Sandon school students performing at the launch of Chelmsford’s Cultural Strategy

You can check out the full list of Ignite Socials here. Topics in the coming months include Black History Month, neurodiversity and creativity, and storytelling. Admission is free.

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Cherelle Nightingill
Cherelle Nightingill

Cherelle writes about Chelmsford Theatre, Hylands Estate, Chelmsford Museum, the Mayor of Chelmsford and culture and events in the city.