West Suffolk Arts Centre CIC (WSAC) was founded in 2004 by artist, writer and historian Leigh Driver, as a loose collective of practicing visual and literary artists committed to sharing their ideas and expertise with anyone who was interested!
Now in its 15th year the organisation is led by a dedicated team of volunteer directors with the recovery and harnessing of creativity at the heart of everything we do. Operating as creative producers, cultural project curators and as a peripatetic art school (including online courses) WSAC is committed to developing new ways to promote engagement with the arts for all.
As specialists in developing bespoke learning experiences, along with a proven track record in working alongside communities to co-create and successfully deliver multi-layered arts projects, WSAC has offered a wide range of high quality creative opportunities in town squares, pubs, village halls, community centres and even domestic kitchens.
In the early 1980s, Leigh trained in Fine Arts at the Hertfordshire College of Art and Design under the excellent supervision of Graham Boyd. It was at this time she met professional photographer, and fellow WSAC director, Paul Cotter.
Talented visual artist, Emily Chapman joined WSAC in 2012 and, along with the remaining directors, Daniel Yeager and Stephen Lewis who deal with the admin, has contributed expertise and enthusiasm to WSAC’s volunteer board.
Since her time at art school, Leigh has achieved an MSc in English Local History (Oxon) and written two heritage-themed travel books: The English Village (2005, New Holland) and The Lost Villages of England (2006, New Holland). However, the visual arts remain a key focus for her creative output.
Over the past fourteen years WSAC has established an excellent reputation for delivering high quality, accessible arts experiences for people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. The organisation has worked on a number of successful community arts projects, often participatory in nature and drawing on local heritage and stories. Our aim is to challenge and inspire local communities to view their environment with fresh eyes as well as to promote a culture of creative enquiry and exploration.
WSAC’s young filmmakers have worked on a number of media projects, notably producing a DVD of their feature-length documentary film ‘Brandon: One Day in Summer‘ created for and supported by Forest Heath District Council, which was a big hit at the First Brandon Film Festival, an event that they also curated. This led to the same team being asked to put together a video in support of the Brandon Town Team’s Portas Pilot bid 2012.
The organization had also developed a programme of technology enhanced learning opportunities in the arts and successfully piloted an online drawing course.
Continuing the emphasis on new media and technology we are currently exploring the creative possibilities of augmented reality through Near Field Communication (NFC) and sound installations.
Since its inception, West Suffolk Arts Centre has successfully guided a number of young people working to achieve Trinity Guildhall Arts Awards at Bronze, Silver and Gold levels. Our last round of moderations took place in the Spring of 2019.
Current and previous partners include:
• Arts Council England (CPP Market Place)
• Smiths Row
• Activities Unlimited
• Anglia Community Leisure
• Forest Heath District Council
• Suffolk County Council
• Education Otherwise
The legal bit…
West Suffolk Arts Centre was officially incorporated as a C.I.C. on August 15th 2011 and is a not-for-personal-profit organization..
Its executive directors are Leigh Driver MSc. Oxon (MD and Creative Director), Paul Cotter (Strategy and Development). Non-executive directors are Emily Chapman, Stephen Lewis and Daniel Yeager.