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Wakefield’s Faceless Arts closes after funding double whammy

Faceless Arts' Driftwood looked at migrant experiences in Wakefield and Leeds. Photo: Tony Glossop Faceless Arts' Driftwood looked at migrant experiences in Wakefield and Leeds. Photo: Tony Glossop
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Wakefield-based charity Faceless Arts has closed after losing its funding from both the local authority and Arts Council England.

The charity, which provided free arts experiences for people in areas of deprivation and in outdoor spaces, shut its doors last week.

Its most recent project, Driftwood, looked at migrant experiences in the UK and culminated in a large wooden driftwood boat being ‘sailed’ through a town.

Artistic director and co-founder Bev Adams said: “We loved bringing people from all walks of life together to create great art and we take with us some very fond memories. For example, a 100-year-old lady beaming as she proudly posed for a photo with the first painting she’d made since primary school. Another heart-warming story is of a selective mute speaking for the first time to say a line I had given her in an outdoor show.”

Faceless Arts was formed in 1990 to increase access to the arts in the outdoors. According to its website, the charity served around 40,000 people each year. It ran the Pontefract Liquorice Festival from 2000 to 2008, and founded the Wakefield Kite Festival in 2001.

Erin Braithwaite, vice chair of the board of trustees, expressed the board’s reluctance to close the charity.

She said: “For a company that has a proven track record of working with members of our society who may not otherwise have access to the arts, we feel disappointed that, despite the continued demand for Faceless Arts’ work, vital funding for our continuation has not been forthcoming. This is a regrettable decision.”

From 2012 to 2015, Faceless Arts was an Arts Council national portfolio organisation, and received about £180,569 in core funding across the three years. It was dropped from the national portfolio in 2015. During the 2015/16 financial year, the charity received £51,000 in Arts Council Grants for the Arts funding, £48,000 in Arts Council Strategic Touring funding, and £10,000 from Wakefield City Council.

Adams, together with creative director Tony Wade and creative producer Charlie Wells, have stated their intention to pursue freelance opportunities.

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