Parade is set to continue despite community arts group's closure

COMMUNITY arts organisation HEADS will close in February but one of its most celebrated events, the Hebden Bridge Handmade Parade, will go on.

The HEADS’ Board of trustees has taken the decision to wind up the organisation due to difficulties securing funding.

Chair of HEADS, Lee Comer said: “I would like to thank the staff and board for their commitment, dedication and creativity, and wish them well with their new ventures.

“I would also like to thank, all of the participants, volunteers and the local community who have helped to make our projects so successful, and our funders, in particular the Arts Council of England, Yorkshire, Hebden Royd Town Council and the Community Foundation for Calderdale for their support over the years.

“I am pleased that the Handmade Parade is continuing and I wish the project every success in the future.”

Co-founded in 1999 by painter and poet John Lyons and writer Jean Rees, the Hourglass Educational Arts Development Services (HEADS) began as a charity to advance the education of the public, including children, in the arts of painting, drawing, sculpture, other visual art forms, performance and creative writing.

Regular exhibitions and weekly art classes run by John Lyons at HEADS’ premises, the Hourglass Studio Gallery, flourished.

The organisation also started taking art workshops out into the community and this became a key part of the work.

In 2005 it was decided to scale down HEADS’ work due to the departure of John and Jean, and concentrate on community arts projects only.

From here, arts projects manager Jude Wadley and operations and finance manager Mel Rix took up the reins and successfully delivered a range of projects including dance, music, photography, poetry, video, visual arts, textiles and sculpture projects as part of the Drawing on Water and Drawing in Air programmes.

From a textile project with users of Age Concern, to the Dreamflags project with Hebden Bridge community groups and individuals, HEADS created opportunities for individuals to develop their creative skills through practical involvement in a wide range of activities, helping people to develop their potential in an exciting and supportive learning environment.

Jude Wadley said: “We’ve delivered many amazing projects and worked with hundreds of participants of different ages, social and cultural backgrounds in Calderdale.

“We always aimed to raise confidence and self esteem through positive artistic experiences and gave people the opportunity to work with high calibre artists and present their work in a professional way.”

During the past two years HEADS has worked in partnership with Thingumajig Theatre to deliver the two highly successful Handmade Parades.

Hundreds of people, aged from one month to 95 years, danced through the streets carrying and wearing fantastic parade art which they had made at pre-event workshops.

Mel Rix said: “The closure of HEADS is tinged with sadness but I am thrilled that the Handmade Parade will continue to grow and evolve.

“I would like to thank Northlight Art Studios for being a great landlord, and I am also delighted that Northlight is providing quality creative education at the Back Door Project. The programme offers something for everyone.”