Ossett Observer’s Annual Round-Up

What an interesting year 2013 has been for us here at The Observer Office. We started this year saying ‘No No, we want a rest, we can’t possibly do what we did in 2012, it would kill us’… The Herculean effort that went into 2012 made us approach 2013 in a different way, we wanted to carry on making lovely things with and for people in Ossett, but knew that without funding and staff that we just couldn’t keep up the pace of 2012, that our model wasn’t sustainable.

So it was with a determination to not let our imaginations exceed our resources that we headed off into the new year. We wanted to work small, work with artists we know and not compromise the quality of what we offered, but just do it smaller.

We’ve just finished compiling a list of all the projects and opportunities we created this year and frankly it’s astounded even me.  We started the year with a recreation of Flock To Ossett as part of the Wakefield Artwalk, complete with some of our flock, our woolwork, that lovely BIKE!!! and an updated copy of The Ossett Observer. Then came 3 Swap Shops, 2 Pecha Kucha events, 9 Ossett Ukulele Philharmonia gigs, Mr Beaumont’s Platter That Matters, 3 Memory Walls, #TheCouple, The Pop Up Poetry Parlour, 5 Ukulele Flashmobs, The Awesome Ossett #FlashChoir  AND we published our first book ‘Cigarettes, Beer and Love’ which was a total JOY to work on from start to finish. No wonder we’re ready for a lie down.

We’ve inspired more folks than you can shake a stick at to make things, pick up a Ukulele, start their own clubs, sell their artwork, write poems, tell their stories, start their own community projects and just view their corner of the world in a slightly different way. We said goodbye to one of our projects the AWESOME Ossett Ukulele Philharmonia which is now a self managed community music project.

This has been great this year for us to connect with others working in the same way, the DIY spirit is thriving in the Wakefield District lots of different people are volunteering their time to create opportunities for us all to come together and make and do and create. Long Division, Wakefield Jelly, Wood Street Market, ArtWalk Wakefield, to name but a few, are bringing lots of smaller and bigger organisations together to share creativity, ideas, create communities and make friendships.

Beyond the Wakefield District our work has had an impact, our use of Social Media, particularly twitter, has spread the news about the great things we’ve been doing in Ossett as far as Russia and Stockholm and it came as a total but very welcome surprise to us when we won the Action For Market Towns ‘National Trailblazer’ Award for ideas that can transform a town.

We dedicated a large chunk of this year to working with Trinity Church on their continued bid to transform one of Ossett’s grandest and oldest buildings into a space that can be used by the whole town. We assisted with community consultation and programme development, and have devised a series of activities to engage the whole town in its heritage and history. We’re really looking forward to being able to deliver those ideas very soon.

Our work to date has been voluntary, we don’t make ANY money and we don’t charge participants to take part, we’re just a very committed group of artists, arts workers and creative people who believe that the arts have the power to transform lives and that Ossett should have a share in that too. It takes a massive amount of effort and energy to raise the kind of money it cost us to run Ossett Observer in 2012 so this year we have relied entirely on the generosity, kindness and awesome good natures of many folks.

I’m reluctant to name people because doubtless I would miss someone out and I’d be mortified if I caused offence but I want to thank people personally for their continued belief in and support of our ethos, for giving their time, kindness and expertise to our projects and to making them work. I’m going to run the risk of you giving me a bollocking if I forget you and name names, here we go …

Tony Wade and all at Faceless Arts, Sharon Shephard, Helen Thomas, Cassandra Kilbride, Ralph Dartford, Tony Shephard, Caitlin Robinson, Kerry Balboa and Irene Rhodes, THANK YOU. YOU! are Ossett Observer and made our projects happen for those who swapped, sang, strummed, poetted, mused, laughed, cried and pondered in 2013.

We’re now off for a lie down with a small sherry and a mince pie. See you next year when we’ll be celebrating 150 years of Ossett Observer. I know … we don’t look a day over 35 😉



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