Headshot of Rob Webster from the Paper Arts Board

Rob Webster

Everyone should have access to the arts, and the opportunity to make a living from the creative industries – to work at something that they find fulfilling. That is what Paper Arts has been achieving, by providing resources, opportunities and inspiration for young creatives across Bristol, and with a focus on St Pauls in particular. This is why I became involved in 2016; First to develop and support the marketing, and more recently as a board member. Having worked in a publicly funded artspace (Arnolfini) for 6 years (as Head of Marketing) I saw the inequity, lack of opportunity and jobs for young creatives, and looked for ways to change that.

I am commited to social justice and believe in the positive power of community owned, and worker owned, social enterprises, such as CIC’s (Paper arts) and co-operatives. I have worked in St Pauls for Social Enterprise Works, to promote social businesses, and in London with the Co-op, to promote co-operative principles.

In terms of creativity, I established the gallery/shop Other Worlds are Possible in St Nick’s Market, which promotes and sells local artists original work, alongside selling cards, books, games, ephemera and alternative products, produced by everyone from School of Life, and Radical tea towel company, to Bristol Radical History pamphlets.

I am in a band called do less. We released our second track in a series of anti-hate, pro-peace releases on the solstice (21/12/20). The first track was a tribute to the brilliant fluxus artist Yoko Ono, the latest is ‘Tell the Truth’ . The track has quotes and inspiration from Greta Thunberg’s address to the UN climate Change summit held in 2019. The UK hosts the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) this year, it is yet another chance to change direction, to give us a brighter future.

 

The future of paper arts

A Statement from the Board of Directors

 

Like many organisations, PAPER Arts has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. In 2020, on appointment of a highly skilled CEO, we made the bold decision to review our business model and begin a process of research and development in order to shape a new service and to better support creatives in Bristol with professional development, networking and the opportunity to learn new skills.

Throughout the pandemic we have proudly supported creatives in Bristol, with a focus on young people from St Pauls, our Creative Employment programme hosted over 20 sessions and we welcomed 17 young people to feed into our research and development proposal. 

However, the last 18 months have been a huge challenge, while we’ve been able to successfully deliver a plethora of projects since our inception seven years ago, we have been unable to secure the funding necessary to realise our ambitious plans for the future and to provide our organisation with much needed financial stability.

As a result, it is with a heavy heart that the current PAPER Arts team, made up of Grace, Kate, Katy, Lau and Amie will no longer be able to continue in their roles. Our small team has delivered a substantial amount of value to the community we serve and the Board of Directors are endlessly grateful for the skills and professionalism they bring with them each and every day. We are proud to know and work alongside such talented individuals and believe that the arts sector is a better place with them in it. 

The ideas generated by this team are inspiring and hopeful and the Board of Directors wholeheartedly believe in the importance of supporting the creative community in Bristol.

As September ends and the seasons change PAPER Arts will be going into hibernation in order to survive this adversity. Our voluntary Board of Directors will spend the coming months considering the future of PAPER Arts, the role we can play in the arts sector in Bristol and how we can sustainably move forwards. We don’t know what that will look like yet, but as soon as we are able to share more with you we will. 

In the meantime, should you have any questions or concerns or if you would like to speak to someone about the future of PAPER Arts please don’t hesitate to contact [email protected] – Kirsten Cree, one of the Board of Directors will be monitoring this inbox. 

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