More Than a Hundred Stories

We are two artists, interested in how art can animate, challenge and create communities. We’ve been commissioned by Creative People and Places to creatively map and respond to its achievements, the problems it faces, and the questions it has generated.

We are interested in the programme’s ambition to change how art is commissioned and experienced and will be exploring how and to what extent this ambition has been realised across all 21 projects.

We will be posting creative responses to conversations, observations and research throughout the project and will share our final work with you in autumn 2016. Do join us and follow our creative journey on this blog.

You can find out more about our work at: and

Sarah Butler and Nicole Mollett

Cycling the ‘Northern Belt’| Wednesday 23rd September: Right Up Our Street, Doncaster


darts, Doncaster Community Arts leads the community based strand of Right Up Our Street and have appointed Arts Supporters to develop artistic activity with local involvement and decision making in five areas of Doncaster. They decided to take me to two different areas, the first, Bentley, where there have been significant problems and delays with the project; the second, Mexborough, where the scheme has 'flown'.

Cycling the ‘Northern Belt’| Monday 21st September: Creative Scene, North Kirklees


It is raining in Dewsbury but this town is still immediately beautiful, with its rows of elegant stone buildings. There has been money here – from heavy woollen cloth, I am told, when I ask.

Again, I hear the story of the unloved cousin, the place that has been forgotten, the sense that somewhere else (Huddersfield in this instance) gets all the attention. And yet I am also told about local pride, about very strong attachments to specific places, an appetite for arts activity and a willingness to come along, to talk, to be interested. Still the story of being forgotten, overlooked, but more of a sense of confidence than I've picked up on in other places.

Rebecca tells me there has been a history in this area of new initiatives full of promises and injections of cash over fixed periods of time. 'Things come in and then leave,' she says, 'And so there is an element of distrust.' This is a huge issue for all the CPP projects I think – how to have impact; how to create something that lasts; how to avoid being just another initiative that comes and then leaves – or if that is unavoidable, then the question is how to do it well.

Cycling the ‘Northern Belt’| Week Two: Dewsbury to Hull


So, another week's cycling, this time from Dewsbury to Hull, moving from lush hills and limestone, through coalfields and along waterways to a much flatter landscape, traversed by drainage ditches and scattered with wind farms. Sitting in my hotel room in Doncaster I spoke to a friend in London – 'it's sheeting it down here', she told me as I looked out of the window at a rectangle of clear blue sky. Save for a soggy Monday in Dewsbury, we had only sunshine, beautiful, crisp autumn light, trees tinged red and yellow.

My GPS machine broke over the weekend, so this week we navigated with paper maps, strapped to the handlebars of our bikes. It is less convenient but also, perhaps, a more pleasant experience than following a flashing dot on a screen, Over these two weeks, I have heard again and again the phrase 'we want to put [insert CPP place of your choice] on the map'. There's something about travelling between places on your own steam, something about the long approach maybe, that gives you a sense of ownership of the place. These CPP projects have been my daily destinations, the places that have defined the route I have taken and the things I have seen; they are certainly on my own personal map.

Sarah Butler