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Map with markers showing where CCC projects took place across the country. Greater Creative in Blackwell Parish in Derbyshire is in the midlands and highlighted with a pink marker.Located in Derbyshire and sitting south of the district of Bolsover, Blackwell Parish is made up of the villages of Blackwell, Newton, Westhouses, Hilcote and Old Blackwell. Our parish was once thriving with local mining, railway and framework knitting industries that are now closed.

Today our parish is nestled within a semi-rural setting and holds approximately 2,300 houses. We have poor transport links as well as inequality of access to general amenities and social and cultural activity.

Here, members of the Creative Civic Change project Greater Creative share their experiences of the programme. 

Celebrating people and place

Greater Creative is a community collective. We’ve been together since 2018 working closely with local, regional and national artists to co-design and co-create projects, revive and invent assets, hold events and create opportunities with, and for, our community.

Our work is informed by the local community, led by a ‘working party’ of Blackwell Parish residents and facilitated by local community arts organisation, Platform Thirty1.

We are working towards making Blackwell Parish a community-led, connected, playful and proud parish that pro-actively and creatively commemorates and celebrates its people and places.

You see a lot of places that had pits being regenerated with museums and cafés. We’ve had nowt! I’m really pleased Greater Creative has started to work in the community to change that.”
Blackwell resident

How creativity changed our community

With the help of funding from Creative Civic Change, we were able to celebrate our parish’s past by co-creating a digital trail with a downloadable app that takes people on a guided walk around our parish.

We also commissioned community-designed sculptures inspired by our parish’s past. Carved in wood by Andrew Frost, these were proudly installed along the old pit trails.

Other visible changes introduced to the local area included a series of community public paint projects and colourful themed murals in Newton, Hilcote and Westhouses.

A mural of a train

LMS Stainer Class F painted on abandoned Westhouses Workmans Social Club by Graffwerk. Bring The Paint To Blackwell Parish Project 2021. Photo by Dean Leivers Photography.


Our participation programme included the collection of local resident’s oral histories, workshops, learner to leader programmes, home packs, intergenerational activities, celebratory events, heritage trips and seasonal co-created projects.

During the pandemic, we even managed to keep creative activities going by encouraging residents to create their household crests on clay tiles which we later installed across the parish.

I haven’t worked on a project before that’s been as beautifully authentic as this one. It is special for the community and for me.”
Jodie, project facilitator

Learner to leader

Sadly young people in the community can be described as being “tarred with the same brush”, perceived as inactive citizens and not stepping up to bring good to the community. We run a programme called ‘learner to leader’ which gives young people the opportunity to be leaders in their community and role models that offer creative activities in a national ‘cold spot’ for culture.

With the help of our programme, young emerging leaders in the community got the chance to work with professional creatives designing and delivering activities for younger children in the parish. One of the first young leaders went to university and returned this summer to work as a facilitator on the project to support the new young leaders. Two other young participants recently said they want to be ‘Greater Creative young leaders when they grow up’.

We have created a programme that young people want to be a part of to help serve future younger generations.

A facilitator talking to a class of school children

Cultural visit to Lakeside Arts in Nottinghamshire for Newton Primary School. Photo by Dean Leivers Photography.

Looking to the future

We are proud of what we have achieved to date and we are excited about where we are going. We wish to continue work in a co-created way that brings about more opportunities for our parish residents with artists and creatives. Our strands of work are still important and current.

I think the Greater Creative project has been a brilliant approach to get the local community thinking about ways that they can use art to improve their area and how art can impact on the way we all feel.”
Emma Reynard, artist

Creative Civic Change has given us a great foundation to build on and we’re hopeful to secure future funding to enable this model and approach to work to continue in our community.

Watch Blackwell local history come to life