We sent down our own in-house graffiti expert, Gareth, (who has been documenting the local street art and graffiti scene in Nottingham since 2012 over on his Instagram), to see what it was all about…
Its 10am on a sunny Saturday morning and I’m stood in an alleyway. I can hear the familiar sound of a spray can being shaken, and in the distance, there’s a scaffold tower being moved into place. The only strange thing about this start to my weekend is that I’m not in some inner city urban area. I’m in the small town of Beeston on the outskirts of Nottingham. This is the last place I expected to be photographing street art, but it’s the first day of Beeston Street Art Festival and here I am.
Beeston Street Art Festival is a community initiative, led by organiser Jeanie Barton. We caught up with Jeanie, to find out more about the event and how it all came about…
How has the first Beeston Street Art Festival gone?
We had a very productive weekend of painting despite the weather not being the best. I’m blown away by how much work the artists have put in. Four massive works on two walls at Round Hill Primary School were completed, as well as a mural on the back wall of the car park at The White Lion pub. Plus Beeston Nursery and one on the side of The Star Inn. Long walls on Willoughby Street and the Tornari-sports building are still ongoing and will be added to over the next few weeks. We also have three more works coming up on a substation, The Hive on Union Street and the side of Fred Hallam’s shop.
Can you give a little background on the event? I understand it started off as an idea on Facebook and grew from there?
It was a year ago we got together as a group on Facebook to work towards bringing street art to Beeston. With the support of the Beeston and District Civic Society, our original aim was to turn the dark ugly precinct walls on Station Road into an attraction with murals. The local council were keen to receive design proposals and costings, which we submitted last October, but with one thing and another, the submissions didn’t get acted upon. So, we decided to go directly to the planning department to see if we could get permission to do other private walls around the town. They replied to say painting and art were within the permitted development. We did not need planning permission, only freeholders’ permission—this was on the 19th March this year.
We set about creating a crowdfunding and sponsorship campaign and approaching building owners. We very quickly raised much more money than we expected and had so many people wanting art on their properties we had to stop asking! We have been overwhelmed by the offers of cash and help and interest from the street art scene. The results of just three months of preparation are what you see now.
The local Broxtowe Council became aware of our fundraising activities about a month ago, and this led to them asking for a meeting to resurrect the original plans. They now want to go ahead with murals on their property, so this festival has helped bring about our original aim for Beeston and we could not be happier!
Did it take much to get the local people and businesses and even a school to take part?
None at all—we have been inundated with requests. The school came to us and many other businesses too. They understand the value of art in public spaces. Encouraging socialising, culture, creativity and learning, as well as attracting trade and investment in our town.
How did you go about getting the artists on board for the event and did you have a vetting process of their past work or let them decide on the day?
At first, we just put a call out on social media, I also went on the radio and we had an article in the Nottingham Post. The tweets etc. were circulated and many internationally renowned artists came forward. I also enlisted the valuable help of Sylvie at Montana Paints in Hockley who is very well connected in the scene, supplying paints and running projects all over the world. She helped me match artists to walls when we had so many offered to us, she is a wonder—we owe her a great deal.
Was it easier than expected to get the local council to agree to the event? I understand they helped with funding as well.
They were not involved in this event as planning permission was not required so we dealt only with the building owners. Broxtowe does have a ring-fenced art fund of £8,000 inherited from the Henry Boot Corporation, which contractually must be spent on ‘art’ within a certain area. Their Finance and Resources committee are voting in July to hopefully release this fund for street art. We approached quite a few local firms and nine out of ten were more than happy to contribute to the pot, which was delightful.
Any tips or things to avoid for someone else wanting to organise this kind of event?
Can’t think of any! It was all new to me but it all seemed to come together with the power of social media mostly.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I just want to say thank you to Patrick Connor who heads up the QA team over at Serif for securing us Affinity’s sponsorship. We can do so much more in our town now because of your contributions!
I’ll be posting updates from the walls of Beeston on my Instagram @MostlyNottsGraffiti. If you happen to be passing through Nottingham and you have some downtime, I recommend taking a walk around Beeston and checking out some amazing art in a lovely town.