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Press Release 1st June 2012
Exciting new changes at Zinc Arts
The arts organisation Zinc, based in Chipping Ongar Essex, which works with disabled and socially excluded children and adults and the wider community is announcing today some changes to their senior management team.
Chief Executive, Jeff Banks and Creative Director, Anna Wallbank, will be leaving Zinc at the end of June and Head of Creative Education and Learning, Heather Stradling, has been appointed the new Director.
Jeff Banks said: “I have been with Zinc since 1990 and am tremendously proud of what we have achieved and the difference we have made to the lives of the disabled and disadvantaged people we work with. I am truly delighted to be handing over to Heather Stradling who has been a driving force in the development of our organisation over a number of years”.
Jeff Banks led Zinc through its capital development and through sheer hard graft and determination secured the former Great Stony school buildings which became the home for the organisation. Working with the Board of Trustees and Directors he then led the campaign to raise £6.2m funding to transform the site into a national centre of excellence for disability arts and a fabulous local arts facility. The new centre, which comprises teaching and exhibition spaces, a cafe, theatre and fully-accessible residential centre along with housing for disabled people, was opened on 23rd November 2011 by HRH Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex. The residential centre has been described by visitors as giving the top boutique hotels a run for their money!
Anna Wallbank joined Zinc shortly after its inception and has led the artistic and educational programme since, developing its unique approach to creative education and training. Anna Wallbank said: “I have been privileged to have worked with some fantastic artists over the last twenty years and have wonderful memories of the amazing arts projects, productions, exhibitions and residential courses we have run. I have been truly inspired by the lives and experiences of the young people and adults we work with and believe Zinc has grown to represent what a 21st Century cultural organisation should look like”.
Andy Smith, Chair of trustees said: “Jeff and Anna’s vision, passion and relentless hard work has culminated in a beautiful building and a portfolio of work, recognised for its high quality and the positive changes it has inspired for thousands of participants over the past 21 years. We will be sad to see them go but are delighted with the appointment of Heather Stradling who will lead the organisation superbly in the future.”
Heather’s leadership is welcomed by the Board and she will work with an exceptionally strong and dedicated staff team at Zinc.
Keith Tait, local Councillor and trustee of Zinc said: “These two individuals, who I am proud to have called colleagues and friends, have made a profound difference to Ongar, literally transforming the landscape and community assets of the town. Whilst I am sad to see them moving on, I know their work will have a lasting legacy for generations to come”.
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Press Release 24 November 2011
ZINC LAUNCHES UK’S FIRST FULLY ACCESSIBLE RESIDENTIAL ARTS CENTRE
Our ground breaking centre that offers facilities and activities for the local community as well as arts, training and housing for disabled and disadvantaged people was opened this week in Ongar, Essex, by HRH The Earl of Wessex KG GCVO.
Zinc Arts Centre is the first fully accessible centre of its kind in the UK, dedicated to education, innovation and excellence in the arts for disabled people and socially excluded groups. The Centre now offers 25 fully accessible bedrooms, a community/performance hall, nine supported housing flats, exhibition facilities and teaching spaces available for hire for activity groups and businesses across the UK.
The new centre includes two types of accommodation: 25 short stay rooms for residential courses and nine supported housing flats that are fully self contained. The supported housing scheme, called Tolpuddle House, was delivered by project partner and supported housing specialist East Thames. Residents of Tolpuddle House will also receive a tailored programme of support, education, training and employment at the neighbouring Zinc Arts Centre. This package is designed to help people with support needs become more independent and learn new skills and East Thames will manage the flats and provide any personalised care and support the residents need.
Zinc engaged with over 7,500 disabled and disadvantaged people last year and the new centre will mean that this number will increase significantly. The total capital cost of the Zinc Arts Centre was £6.2 million, with over half of the funding raised independently. Despite significant Arts Council cuts in March this year, the team at Zinc has been determined to see the project through to fruition and it now represents a working example for arts organisations to survive in an environment of public sector funding cuts.
European Regional Development Funding of £435,399 has been provided for the project, which will enable organisations to cut costs through energy saving and waste reduction techniques as well as supporting them to expand existing businesses and develop new ones, through green and sustainable procurement.
This will be achieved through establishing a new pilot social enterprise based at Zinc model Arts Centre, which will pioneer new approaches in green and sustainable procurement, and roll out these approaches through offering advice, guidance and support to new and existing enterprises interested in sustainable development, thereby providing a long lasting legacy and model of best practice for the Eastern region.
Tolpuddle House is the first East Thames scheme to be developed without upfront Supporting People funding. That is, the revenue will be provided through the residents’ personal care budgets, as part of the new personalisation agenda. These nine units were built with a Homes and Communities Local Housing Grant of £720,000 which was supported by Epping Forest District Council, whose residents get first choice of the placements.
Jeff Banks, Chief Executive of Zinc, says: “Today is the most important milestone in Zinc’s 21 year history. We believe that this centre is truly a national landmark for social arts organisations. It will allow us to increase our work in support of the most vulnerable and marginalised groups in society to engage in the arts and help them lead a rewarding and fulfilling cultural life. In difficult economic times it is even more important to invest in creating opportunities that will provide these groups with the chance to develop new skills and benefit from pathways to employment.
Chris Woodhead East Thames Assistant Director of Care and Support said: “The vision for Tolpuddle House was to create a unique service combining supported housing and employment training which will help adults with support needs become more independent and build new skills. Improving employability skills in disabled and disadvantaged young people is more important than ever and we hope the package available at Zinc Arts Centre will break down some of the barriers to independence these young people face.”
New Tolpuddle House resident Jason, 26, said: “I’m most looking forward to getting into more drama training and fitness. Drama is my strong point, but I’m also interested to learn about other things at Zinc, like catering. I’d also like to get a job and once I’ve got more experience here I will start sending out my CV. Being here has given me new motivation and I’m looking forward to getting as much new experience as possible.”
Some comments from the project's funders
The 23rd November was a proud day for Zinc and Tolpuddle House I was hugely impressed by the hard work, enthusiasm and dedication of so many people and organisations who worked together to bring this project to fruition. The result is a facility of which they can be very proud and the new young residents of Tolpuddle House, are clearly very excited by this new opportunity that gives them the best possible chance in life for independent living. This facility is not just for the residents of Tolpuddle House but will be a wonderful local resource for the Town as well. EFDC can be justly proud of its own involvement in helping, with others, to facilitate this project.
Councillor Ken Angold-Stephens, Chairman EFDC
Zinc has been working tirelessly over the last 10 years to make their vision for a bespoke fully accessible arts centre of the highest quality into a reality, and Arts Council are happy to have played a part in this process. The opportunities offered by the new theatre studio, residential accommodation, exhibition and meeting spaces will ensure many more possibilities for the public to engage in high quality arts experiences both as participants and audiences. We hope that new creative partnerships also spring from the opportunity to work with Zinc and utilise their fantastic facilities.
Mark Richards, Arts Council England
I was delighted to be part of the Royal Opening and see for myself how the donation from Essex County Council has contributed to such an innovative development for disabled and vulnerable young people in Essex. I wish the centre every success in the future.
Councillor John Jowers, Essex CC
I am delighted to be supporting the launch of Zinc Arts Centre which has received funding from The East of England European Regional Development Fund. It has demonstrated exemplary low carbon technologies and supported work with organisations from the creative industries, facilities management and social care sectors. It has given support to help business develop plans to create, or become, sustainable social enterprises, during the projects lifetime. I look forward to seeing the impact of this exciting proposal.
Communities Minister Baroness Hanham CBE
I am personally delighted that we have been able to support this scheme which not only supports young people with their individual housing needs but provides them with an environment in which they can gain skills and employment through the arts centre. This is a real asset to the local community.
Naisha Polaine, Head of Area for the HCA
Press Release 7th October 2011
Inspiring Theatre Course for Unemployed Adults Returns
Epping Forest based arts charity Zinc, are looking for participants to take part in their next community theatre course Re:act aimed specifically at unemployed adults from the local area. The free course will run from Monday 31 October until Friday 18 November, week days 10.00 am - 4.00 pm.
By working as a group, setting up a theatre company and putting on a production for schools over a three week period, the project sets out to build transferrable work skills for participants whilst helping them to become more engaged with their communities and move closer to the job market.
Tamara Hall, Project worker at Zinc said, "we were delighted by how successful this project was when we ran it in the spring. It allowed participants to gain and develop confidence and skills and play an active role in devising and putting on a theatre production for primary schools, be that behind the scenes or performing on stage."
A participant from the Spring project added, "The course gave me a whole boost with confidence. I left work very demoralised as I was made redundant and retired into a shell. These 3 weeks made me feel valued again."
The Spring course involved seven unemployed adults and it is hoped that double that number will take part this time.
Re:act is part of the Team East for Skills initiative which uses the inspiration of the Lonodn 2012 Olympics and Paralympic games to engage unemployed adults (aged 16+), in training, mentoring and volunteering opportunities to help get into work.
This Autumn's production will centre around the topic of bullying and peer pressure with a particular focus on standing up to your friends if they are being nasty to someone else.