It seems that more and more we are hearing about Jersey Arts Trust helping to cultivate what is a thriving arts scene on our small island and providing opportunities to artists in all mediums; from visual art to literature, theatre, film or music, the Arts Trust have demonstrated expertise and commitment to pushing art to the forefront of the local community.

2010 has been a huge year for the Trust. Before looking forward to a busy twelve months ahead, after having secured £150,000 funding (from Education, Sport and Culture, to be distributed accordingly through grants and to fund events and educational projects), we take a look back at the last year and its success stories.

One (if not the biggest) achievement of 2010 for the Trust was the New Plays Project. In association with the prestigious Old Vic New Voices, the project aimed to seek out new playwriting talent in Jersey. Kicking off with a workshop by National Theatre writer Mike Bartlett and BBC director Claire Grove, the project received over forty submissions from local playwrights and a final four were chosen by award-winning writer Duncan MacMillan. The Trust then invited four visiting UK directors through Old Vic New Voices to each direct one of the winning plays but with a catch – they, and their casts comprised of local actors – would have just one week to produce them. A high risk strategy but the event turned out to be a resounding success with a packed-out Arts Centre turning out to see four flawless performances and one reviewer declaring ‘Four gold stars for Jersey’s drama project.’

Earlier in the year, the Trust had also initiated the CI Writers Competition, in conjunction with Gallery and sponsored by Jersey Post – receiving over 300 entries, the competition demonstrated not only the wealth of writing talent in the islands, but also the degree to which the artistic community are keen to engage with such projects that the Trust initiates. The reward for entrants was an anthology featuring the best work, including winners Tomas Weber, Michael Marret-Crosby and Toby Chiang.

Far from confining itself to writing, the Trust also hosted the hugely successful Open Studios exhibitions in June, coinciding with the release of the 2010 Artists Directory, a resource detailing all of Jersey’s visual artists and their galleries. It also teamed up with a number of other organisations to host exhibitions (the Red Dot Group’s exhibition at Hamptonne being a case in point) and programmes such as Branchage Film Festival educational workshops, with events like the Short Filmmakers Masterclass featuring Kidulthood director Menhaj Huda.
One of the Art’s Trust’s key roles is that of grant-giving. Each year it receives a high number of applications from individuals or organisations seeking funding for projects, travel expenses or education fees. With a limited budget for the demand, the Trust must be selective in its choices, basing their decisions on a criteria that takes into account how much that individual will benefit and how their artistic endeavour may potentially have a positive effect on Jersey’s arts community on the whole. In 2010 so far it has invested £45,000 in grants, including funding to help start up indie night Club Kamikaze, covering costs for local band Marvel’s recording sessions with producer Jason Wilcock (Ghost of a Thousand, Reuben) and offering financial support to new Jersey film production Ghosts of Rome.

Continuing to play a part in Jersey’s artistic and cultural development, the Arts Trust has a busy year ahead, with the New Plays Project set to return, mainstays such as Open Studios, Literature Week, the CI Writers Competition and PoAttic events continuing, and a number of new initiatives and projects, which will be announced in the December issue of Gallery. We wait with bated breath, and Jersey Arts Trust – we salute you.