Meet the artists online

For some years now, the months of May and June have been widely known as the time when artists from across Nottinghamshire join forces to bring a very special event to the county.

Open Studios Notts in its usual form obviously wasn’t an option for 2020 but that didn’t stop all those artists coming together – virtually of course! – to bring the event to the audience it would normally attract.

Instead of inviting people to join them in their studios, they’ve been inviting them to join them online. And in the last couple of months, they’ve made no fewer than 47 videos to make this possible.

Here’s just one of them, featuring former Girls Around Town presenter Tina Bettison. in which she talks to six of the artists taking part. this year…

Find out what they had to say to Tina about their work – and if you want to see and hear more, just follow this link to watch some of the other 46 videos uploaded to YouTube!

Get ready for five more years with the Girls Around Town!

Although your favourite show is off air at the moment, as Newark and the rest of the UK headed towards the eighth week of lockdown there was good news for the town, Radio Newark – 107.8FM and the Girls Around Town

After five years broadcasting live 24 hours a day, seven days a week from its purpose-built studios at Barnby Road Academy, the station has now been awarded a second five-year licence by Ofcom, securing its future all the way to 2025.

Which means that as soon as lockdown restrictions are lifted JuneRosalynRachel and Claire will be back in the studio between 10am and 12 noon every Sunday, chatting to lots of lovely guests and keeping their equally lovely listeners entertained and informed for a very long time to come!

Watch this space to find out when they’ll be back on air and, in the meantime, find out what two of the station’s directors had to say when they spoke to June about the new licence and what it means for the whole team, the town and the local community.

First up it’s technical director Phil Johnson, who began by looking back to the station’s beginnings. “As someone who’s worked in local radio for many years, when I moved to Newark I was keen to explore the possibility of setting up a new community station within the town,” he said.

“The idea very quickly became a reality after a conversation with the then headmaster of Barnby Road Academy at a parents’ evening. Within weeks, we’d accepted his generous offer to set up a studio in the school and started to recruit a team of experienced presenters ready to take to the airwaves as soon as we were given the nod by Ofcom.”

Almost a year to the day after trial broadcasting began in November 2013, Radio Newark – 107.8 FM was granted its first five-year licence and full time broadcasting began on Saturday 2 May 2015.

“Since then, it’s been a roller-coaster of a ride for everyone involved,” added Phil. “We’ve had our ups and downs of course but through it all the unwavering support we’ve had from so many organisations and individuals has ensured we’ve achieved what we set out to do and created a station that is truly at the heart of the community.

“Installing a new transmitter in the tower of Newark’s parish church has extended and improved our reach locally while the development of two free apps has enabled us to increase engagement across the country and the world, with over 70,000 unique listeners tuning in online to the FM station and the commercial station Radio Newark DAB  last year alone.“

A member of the board of directors since it all began, former Mayor of Newark Tony Roberts was appointed managing director of the station last year. “From the very start, I’ve seen first-hand just how much hard work and dedication everyone has put into giving the town a radio station of which it can be proud,” he said.

“Whether they’re presenting excellent live shows on air, providing valuable business and technical support, working with local businesses to help promote the town, engaging with children from local schools or taking part in a wide range of events, they’re all passionate about what they do and why they do it.

“It’s no coincidence that one of the one of the phrases most often associated with the station, heard regularly on air and used in many of its promotions, is ‘We Love Newark’. Those three words sum up perfectly not only their own feelings about the town and the station but also their dedication to inspiring the same pride in Newark among its businesses and residents.

“Spurred on by the news of the second five-year licence, which comes at what is for all of us such an unsettled time, it’s great to have a brighter future on which to focus. The directors are already exploring different ways to build on past successes by working even more closely with the community, especially where local schools and families are concerned

“I’m immensely proud to have been part of what we’ve achieved so far and, along with everyone else involved, I look forward to helping to build on that success in the years to come.”

The board of directors all paid tribute to everyone involved, thanking not only the 18 volunteers who between them gave 6,960 hours of their time over the past 12 months alone but also the school, the district and town councils, local businesses, St Mary Magdalene parish church, guests taking part in several of the shows and listeners in Newark and beyond, whose continuing support has helped the station to achieve its aims over the last five years.

Like them, the Girls Around Town have their eyes firmly fixed on the future and they’re raring to go – make sure you’re ready to join them on 107.8FM when the next leg of the journey begins!

Bringing artists into view

Their studios may be closed to the public right now but artists across Nottinghamshire will still be welcoming ‘visitors’ throughout May and June, thanks to a special initiative designed to bring Open Studios 2020 to the county ‘virtually’.

“Of course it is no longer possible to run Open Studios in its usual format this year,” said Michael Trueman, co-ordinator of the initiative. “However, the creative community is the best at keeping morale high when times are rough, not only for the wider public but for ourselves too.

“Hence we have decided to use the online and digital opportunities available to continue to fulfil our mission of ‘bringing artists into view’.”

OS Notts will be sharing virtual studio tours and videos of artists’ work in progress on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and on a dedicated YouTube channel. There will also be opportunities to meet participating artists on social media and a new Meet the Artist section on the OS website.

Linked photographic exhibitions showing artists and makers at work that would normally be held in libraries across the county courtesy of  Inspire: Culture, Learning and Libraries will also take place online.

Links to the exhibition, which launches on Friday 24 April, will be posted on social media and on the OS website. For the third year running, the photographs have been taken by Neil Pledger and curated by Lucianna Gallucci.

And don’t forget to keep an eye on the Girls Around Town social media feeds for regular updates about this year’s Open Studios…

Photographs by Neil Pledger