We are looking for new trustees
The Forge is looking for new trustees/board members. This is the opportunity to get involved in a small, but highly experienced and effective organisation that creates participatory arts projects with disadvantaged communities, with a particular focus on supporting children and young people in areas of socio-economic deprivation to improve their life chances.
The first and most important criterion for membership of our Board is a shared commitment to our objectives and values, particularly the importance of participation in arts-based activity to enrich lives and broaden horizons.
We are keen to find people whose life and professional experience reflect an understanding of our work and the communities in which we operate, and who will add to the strength of the Board. We have a deep commitment to equal opportunity principles and would welcome applications from all.
We would be particularly interested in people with experience of working within the education sector, particularly with vulnerable students or young adults. We would also like to strengthen the finance and accounting expertise within the Board.
Who are we?
We are a specialist participatory arts organisation based in Stanley, County Durham and operating primarily but not exclusively in the County. The company is limited by guarantee with charitable status incorporated on 5 July 2000, registered as a charity on 3 May 2001.
We are a compact but effective organisation. We have a core team of three, which we expand with short term appointments where necessary and we have a far greater impact that our size would suggest.
Our turnover was £224,156 in 2021/2 and we are financially secure. We have been a National Portfolio Organisation of Arts Council England since 2012 and that status was recently renewed for 2023 to 2026.
What do we do?
We deliver creative programmes in schools, colleges and in community settings to give people the opportunity to shape, participate in and experience a range of different art-forms that will support their well-being, personal development and unlock their creative potential.
Durham is one of the most deprived local authorities in England. Our programmes, developed in response to this data, secure life-changing outcomes for our vulnerable beneficiaries.
Over the past 21 years, we have developed an unrivalled reputation for our impactful, data-driven and research-led programmes, particularly in developing creativity in schools.
We have long-established partnerships with schools and communities and a trusted profile within the region. We know and are well integrated into County Durham networks and infrastructures, and our Executive Director has an influential role within these structures.
We support people and communities in a range of ways. Here are some examples:
- Our recent Working in the Arts programme developed in partnership with DurhamWorks, offers Durham’s unemployed, working-class artists designated as Not in Employment Education or Training (NEET), the opportunity to train with a professional participatory artist to develop the skills needed to get arts industry employment. 75% of participants gained employment in the arts or education sectors on completion.
- Our 2017-2019 Paul Hamlyn Foundation (PHF) supported Seeing Things Differently school programme was an innovative photographer-led project that supported children’s creative writing development by making explicit connections between photography, image making and creative writing. After the first year of delivery, primary school participants achieved a 79% increase in the higher Greater Depth score for their writing SATs compared with their non-participating peers. Teaching Things Differently, our 2019-2022 PHF funded teacher development programme, drew on these findings to develop teachers’ practice across seven North East primary schools.
- We have a strong track record in delivering successful community based and community-led programmes. One example is our Stanley Social Neet project. Working with a professional writer, women and girls from Just4Women (a charity working with vulnerable women), a Stanley youth group, and other young people from Stanley, devised and performed Stanley Social Neet, presenting their experiences of living in a former mining town. Participants then performed their play to councillors, MPs, local government staff, their local secondary school, and to members of the public.
- In our youth focused Northern Writes programme, local school children worked with poet laureate Simon Armitage and local poets, then exhibited their poetry on the outside of a GO North East bus, and shared their Song for Stanley at a sold-out public concert.
- We have a service level agreement with Durham County Council to deliver a range of creative programmes with young people, including the education programme for the Durham International Brass Festival. Pre-pandemic, we delivered DCC’s BRASS education programme to 60-70 schools per year.
What do we ask of trustees?
We have a minimum of four board meetings a year, but there are also subgroups of the Board that meet more frequently. In the past, members of the Board have also brought their professional expertise to the team in other ways through specific engagement in planning and delivering projects as well as their role in governance, and we’d like that to continue.
We do not pay our Trustees, and they cannot benefit financially from their role. But we will meet travel expenses as appropriate for attendance at our meetings, which are in Stanley.
Trustees will serve initially for a period of three years, which can be renewed.
Historically we have been a close and supportive Board, working well with the operating team, and we’d like that to continue. But we take extremely seriously our role in the governance of the organisation, in respect of finance and strategic direction.
We will give newly appointed trustees induction into the work of the organisation and, if they would find it helpful, the role of a board member/trustee.
How do you apply?
If you are interested you should initially contact Sue at firstname.lastname@example.org who will arrange an introductory, informal conversation with our Chair or Deputy Chair. If, after that, your interest remains and we all agree with you to take it forward, we will ask you to complete an application form. The next stage, again if we agree with you to take it forward, will be a formal interview with key members of the Board. Applicants might want, before that, to meet informally with members of the team or observe one of our Board meetings.
We would like to recruit three new trustees over the current year and recruitment will be ongoing over the year.