Ossett Observer wins a national award for artistic drive to promote the town

Ossett Observer
Ossett Observer

An arts collective has won a national award for using the power of creativity to encourage people to spend more time in Ossett.

Ossett Observer’s projects have got people both in and outside the town working together to create new things and promote local pride.

Its Flock to Ossett event last summer drew thousands of people into the shopping precinct for a celebration of the importance of wool to the town’s heritage.

And it was also responsible for starting Ossett’s Ukulele Club, which has now become its own organisation boasting several festival performances this summer.

Ossett Observer won a Towns Alive Award for the North of England in the environment and culture category.

Jacqui Wicks, who founded the organisation in 2011, said: “We’re really pleased about this award, it’s such a positive thing for Ossett which lets people know about the work we’ve been doing. We’re sharing it with the whole town.”

Ossett Observer has worked on projects in partnership with Faceless, Wakefield Council, Building Ossett Better, Trinity Church and playwright John Godber.

And Ms Wicks said the projects had helped to connect Ossett better with the city centre and wider area.

She added: “The idea of the award is that we’ve created a good model which other towns can use.

“All you need is to look around at all the good things you have got. Here in Ossett, we looked into the heritage of the town and were able to base some of our projects on that.

“But I’ve also been able to work with professional artists so that the projects are always of a very high quality.

“We’ve raised a lot of money to do what we’ve done, and are thankful to Arts Council England for funding.”

Last winter Ossett Observer got the town creating snowflakes for an exhibition at the Wellgate Centre.

And the Ossett Ukulele Philharmonia, which was originally founded as an informal club, has become so successful that it made it onto the Grassington Festival and Long Division line-ups this summer.

It has now become an independent organisation, run by its members, which has freed up Ms Wicks to work on more projects.

Towns Alive judges said: “The project created art with a sense of place; actively engaged over 600 participants and an audience of more than 7,000; and has lead to relationships and partnerships which will develop further accessible community arts projects and an independent community music project.”