Make this the year to join the culture club 17 Jan 2020
Hertfordshire has many places, attractions and events that draw visitors from all over the UK – and indeed the world – but this year, there will be an added incentive for people to visit in the shape of Hertfordshire Year of Culture 2020 (HYOC2020).
The county-wide initiative, supported by all 11 Hertfordshire local authorities, University of Hertfordshire, Visit Herts and St Albans-based Trestle Theatre Company, aims to showcase Hertfordshire as a county of creative and cultural opportunity.
In the words of Hilary Shade, chair of the Hertfordshire Association of Cultural Officers, HYOC2020 is a broad campaign. “It’s basically anything you do that gets your creative juices flowing – be that gardening, cooking, dancing, singing, drawing, knitting, celebrating or visiting local heritage. The aim is to focus on the stories, dance, music and arts that have the power to bring us together and improve our health and wellbeing.”
To kick off the year, HYOC2020 is taking on the 64 Million Artists January Challenge in businesses, schools, libraries and homes across the county. The January Challenge is 31 days of quick creative challenges.
And following on from this, there will be a wide range of cultural activities taking place during 12 themed months that will celebrate different types of art, share cultural experiences and explore our creative heritage.
Months will include promoting local museums and theatres, exploring the county’s culture in our towns and parks, encouraging people to try something new or get involved with volunteering.
Locally, Trestle Theatre Company will be running M-ask, using theatre practice to support young people aged 11 to 18 experiencing issues with their mental health.
Abbey Theatre is planning a number of events including a production of Andrew Keatley’s Alligators by The Company of Ten.
St Albans Museum + Gallery is running a secondary school art exhibition from this month and has plans for an art open exhibition in collaboration with UHArts and a major Manuscripts exhibition later in the year. St Albans Folk Festival will celebrate the 21st anniversary of the New Roots national under 25s folk competition and the 90th birthday of St Albans Morris Dancers.
St Albans Arts Team will be providing a special Street Buzz year including a major Pavement Poetry project working with local homeless organisations, a year in culture photographic retrospective, a diverse musical collaboration project, several mini Busker-town Festivals and a few surprise pop-ups.
Other local organisations with Year of Culture plans include St Albans Cathedral, St Albans BID, Hertfordshire Community Foundation, Marlborough Road Methodist Church and Montet Designs.
Make sure you keep a lookout for Medieval-themed activities and events taking place across St Albans City and District throughout the year as part of the county’s Year of Culture.
While there is a packed programme of events and activities planned throughout the year, we are still on the lookout for local groups to put on an events and activities. Whether you are an existing group already involved in culture, an individual artist, musician or dancer; a school or local group, please do join us to celebrate, share and explore Hertfordshire’s cultural offer.
To find out more about HYOC2020, visit our website at HYOC2020.org.uk;
To get involved with the 64 Million Artists January Challenge, you can sign up for free at 64millionartists.com/our-work/the-january-challenge/ and let us know how you get on using #HertsMyCreativeCounty #64MillionArtists.
By Liz Gore, project co-ordinator, Hertfordshire Year of Culture 2020.
This article first appeared in the Herts Advertiser on behalf of the St Albans Visitor Partnership on 16 January 2020.