Vital Sparks marks third anniversary with new bursary awards

Four more Plymouth-based groups have been awarded Vital Sparks bursaries to help realise or kickstart their community arts projects.

North Prospect Community Choir, Red Velvet Cinema, Devonport Lifehouse and Mutley Matters will all benefit from funding for their initiatives which include combating isolation, tackling mental ill health and championing community cohesion.

Vital Sparks is a city-wide partnership project between Plymouth City Council and Plymouth Culture designed to inspire arts, culture and creativity throughout Plymouth. 

Since launching in December 2013 its bursaries have supported 33 different of community projects across the city. More than 3,500 people have so far taken part in over 250 workshops. More than 50 different artists have been given 200 days of paid employment which have resulted in 21 new commissions and over 2,000 performance or exhibition days.

Councillor Glenn Jordan, cabinet member for culture said: “The figures for Vital Sparks are phenomenal. We are so proud to be involved in a scheme which helps make a difference in peoples neighbourhoods and really pleased to see four more really worthy projects added to the Vital Sparks family.”

The bursaries awarded in the sixth round of Vital Sparks funding are:

North Prospect Community Choir: £2,509

This brand new choir based at the Beacon Community Hub has been awarded funds to enable it to provide North Prospect residents with the opportunity to sing and make friends. This new venture has already been booked to lead carol singing at school concerts and Christmas fairs. As the choir becomes established it hopes to attract people of all ages from across the city.

Red Velvet Cinema: £2,046

This pilot project will bring classic film screenings to local elderly residents in Devonport. Film screenings in a neighbourhood café will help to combat isolation. Along with enjoying a movie, film buffs will have time and space to socialise and form new friendships.

Devonport Lifehouse Homeless Centre: £2,750

Professional drama tutors in collaboration with On Course South West will be using their Vital Sparks funding to explore the experience of being homeless with residents of the Lifehouse in Devonport. This therapeutic project which tackles mental ill health will also give residents the chance to rehearse in a real theatre environment and enjoy a theatre visit.

University of Plymouth Students’ Union: £500

A Vital Sparks bursary of £500 will support a crowdfunder campaign for a memorial in Moor View Park, Mutley Plain. Coordinated by Mutley Matters, the group has been working with local artist Sarah Jane Hodge to produce a design for a bench to mark the passing of Jeanne Hinton. Jeanne was a well respected community activist who championed community cohesion in her ever-changing corner of the city.

Dom Jinks, chief executive for Plymouth Culture said: “What Vital Sparks has achieved and enabled other people to achieve in the last three years is really impressive. The key to its success is its bursary scheme which brings communities and artists together and enables more people to enjoy and participate in some brilliant creative experiences.”

Applications for the seventh round of Vital Sparks funding are now open. The deadline is 30 April 2017.

For more information about Vital Sparks visit