Plymouth Art Weekender

Trailblazing Plymouth Art Weekender storms ahead for 2020 event

Mary's picture
Authored by Mary
Posted: Friday, July 17, 2020 - 11:48

Proving that out of adversity comes creativity, the team behind the trailblazing Plymouth Art Weekender and Visual Arts Plymouth are striding ahead with plans for the 2020 Visual Art Festival. Despite most events nationally and globally being postponed or cancelled, from Friday 25th – Sunday 27th September 2020, venues of all shapes and sizes across Britain’s ‘Ocean City’ will play host to socially distanced exhibitions, events and community-based activity for all types of people. Set to invite dialogue, prompt questions, drive analysis and contemplation of life and the world as we know it, the artistic projects will be particularly interesting in the Weekender’s sixth year given the unique challenges faced by all. 

Thanks to a lifeline emergency Covid-19 grant that Visual Arts Plymouth has received from Arts Council England ensuring the survival and sustainability of the event and the true grassroots grit and determination typical of the team behind the event, the 2020 Weekender will see creatively Covid-adjacent commissions linked to exciting names springing up across the city - although not all of the public art works will be linked to the pandemic. This will be a particular cultural focal point this year, especially since much of the planned cultural activity around Mayflower 400 has had to be postponed with the Weekender fostering commissioning partnerships with Nudge Community Builders, Theatre Royal Plymouth and KARST for the Festival. 

Founded in 2015 by Visual Arts Plymouth CIC (VAP), after the British Art Show 7 in 2011 saw a growing appetite for ambitious artistic activity in the city, the Plymouth Art Weekender started off as a grassroots experiment to bring together emerging and existing artists in a ‘fringe-like’ fashion. The collaborative event has grown in magnitude over the past six years and despite a host of similar event cancellations across 2020 due to the Covid-19 crisis, the team behind Plymouth Art Weekender is determined that it goes ahead, by any possible means, with its usual passion and creative vigour.  

On behalf of Plymouth Art Weekender Coordinators Flock South West, Lucy Stella Rollins said, “We’re delighted to be cracking on with the organisation of Plymouth Art Weekender 2020. Despite everything that has happened this year, we are determined to make the three-day event a celebration and to offer a moment for the artistic community to come together again, in what has been an undoubtedly challenging year. In fact, it feels more important than ever to give artists a platform right now to express themselves and to open up connections through the medium of art. Whilst many in the creative and events sectors grapple with the challenge of converting or pivoting their events to accommodate complex social distancing requirements - or in the worst cases, cancelling entirely - our advantage lies in the fact that we are geographically spread out across the city in a modular fashion. Working closely with participants, The Weekender is diversified across different organisations and venues so we are lower risk than events that are located in one single facility or vicinity and cannot manage social distancing. Plenty of the works can be enjoyed in the fresh air too.”

Lucy continued, “We will shortly be making our first wave of PAW 2020 announcements. We have a plethora of exciting and ambitious artists showcasing their work this year with listings ranging from exhibitions, workshops and other dynamic activity to take place across the city. Expect everything from subtle interventions to public performative moment in this year’s showcase of the city’s creative talent.” 

Phil Gibby, Area Director, South West, Arts Council England, said, "We are delighted to support the 2020 Plymouth Art Weekender (PAW) through our National Lottery Project Grants and Covid-19 Emergency Response Funding programmes, made possible thanks to investment from the National Lottery. It’s encouraging to see how certain cultural activities are starting - where possible - to adapt their offer within social distancing guidelines. We’re really pleased that this three-day celebration will give local creatives more artistic opportunities, give the people of Plymouth the chance to enjoy a remarkable range of fantastic cultural experiences this September, and help to kick start the local economy by attracting more visitors to the Ocean City because of its growing reputation as a Visual Arts destination.”

Over the years, the Weekender has been made possible with generous support from sponsors, Plymouth City Council, partner art organisations in the city, continuing project grant funding from Arts Council England; and Plymouth Culture’s ‘Horizon’, a two-year visual arts programme from Arts Council England’s ‘Ambition for Excellence’ funding programme for Plymouth in 2017-2018.  This year, individuals and organisations across Plymouth and beyond have rallied together to raise funds for individual PAW participants through online seedfund pitching events. Through a combination of Arts Council England money, VAP’s Covid-19 Emergency funds and two crowdfunders, the team has distributed £4,017 (with £1,175 raised through crowdfunder) to 11 artists/ artist groups to continue making work during this difficult time.  

For more information on the Plymouth Art Weekender, see


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