First Art

Building relationships across communities in Ashfield, Bolsover, Mansfield, and North East Derbyshire to make inspiring cultural things happen.

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First Art is one of a network of projects around England that form the Creative People and Places programme, funded by Arts Council England. We work with communities in the former coalfield areas of North Derbyshire and North Nottinghamshire where there is low engagement with the arts, helping them to experience and shape great art and challenge perceptions. First Art produces The Full Shebang Festival which takes places in Mansfield and a key event supported as part of the Without Walls Touring Network partnership.

First Art Highlights

Why we joined Without Walls

Without Walls gives First Art access to world-class acts which organisations can take to places that wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to experience them. It also means First Art is able to tap into the latest acts and talents. There is also something reassuring about being part of the Without Walls network, it assures quality which in turn gives First Arts’ audiences confidence in trying new things. Being part of a network is a huge benefit to our learning in terms of audience development.


The First Art team

First Art are a small core team who work with partners and communities to develop the events we put on. Karl Greenwood, Director, leads the Artistic programme development together with Project Manager, Vanessa Oxspring, and Marketing and Audience Development Manager, Kate Learmouth. In April new team member, Anna McGrath, joined as an Event Assistant Producer.

This position is supported by Without Walls. For The Full Shebang, where First Art have worked most extensively with Without Walls, as well as using the team’s knowledge and experiences we are in the process of consulting with Mansfield’s business community so that they can feed into the programme for this year’s festival, together with other partners.

Events at First Art

One of the main events First Art put on with Without Walls’ support is The Full Shebang. The Full Shebang was a brand new festival in Mansfield town centre in September 2019. It was a huge success with nearly 8,500 people attending to see spectacles across the town centre. Without Walls acts made a huge impression and were loved by young and old alike. It left a big impression with lots of positive comments from audience members and stakeholders (see infographic, right). The 2020 Full Shebang is currently being planned and has got the full backing of Mansfield District Council and the Mayor, as well as key venues across the town.

Audiences at First Art

The audiences First Art are targeting are those that have low engagement with the arts. By creating events that bring world-class acts like those that are part of Without Walls, the team are able to show just what’s out there. This helps to inspire those low engagers to give more of the arts a try, seeing that there is more to the arts than they may have first thought. It also means audiences in the communities within which First Art work, a number of which are quite rural, see acts they wouldn’t otherwise see in their local area.