Saltaire Inspired’s ambition is to make the village an internationally recognised centre for the visual arts, so the Review asked Julia Calver, the charity’s chair, to talk about their work and events

It’s your first Arts Trail as the new chair of Saltaire Inspired. What does the role involve and how are you finding it?It’s a privilege to be involved in Saltaire Inspired, from being a frequent visitor to now, as Chair, working with a team of passionate and creative people. The role of chair is rotated every three years, which I think ensures there are fresh eyes and energy building on the amazing work of the previous Chair, and yes – this is my first year. There are some core tasks required of every Chair such as adhering to the organisation’s vision – to inspire people of all ages and backgrounds to participate in the arts, sustaining its funding and managing key partnerships. This enables the team to run a successful programme of events over the year. These include Saltaire Arts Trail 27-29 May, The Makers Fair at Saltaire Festival in September and the Saltaire Living Advent Calendar which runs throughout December.

These events couldn’t happen without the support and commitment of volunteers, local venues and the Grade II listed homes of Saltaire residents, as well as a large number of fabulous artists and makers who exhibit and sell their work. It truly is a privilege to be part of this.


What can people expect to see at this year’s event?
Well, 2017 celebrates 10 years of the Saltaire Arts Trail and this year’s theme – Inside Out – means an exciting and engaging visual arts programme. At the heart of the Trail are the now famous Open Houses – a village-wide gallery set in the homes of residents and local businesses.

There’ll be free creative activities, workshops, demonstrations and drop-in sessions for all ages across the village, and thanks to Arts Council Funding, some special events – two large-scale light-based special commissions – art projections on the outside of Open Houses, an Artquest trail of 15 QR code plaques with downloadable digital artists work, again a new thing for this year based on the Inside Out theme, a highlight from last year, and the Lasting Impressions exhibition returns to the rooftop space of Salt’s Mill – please do check this out, not only for the wonderful artwork, but also the astonishing space.

ARTbound Community will be managing a Pay-and-Display exhibition at Shipley College’s Exhibition Hall, our knitted red creatures will be back and dotted around the village again, there’ll be a postcard competition managed by the College’s Enterprise Students, and a range of workshops run by Bradford College.

Bigger than ever this year, the Makers Fair in Victoria Hall will play host to 68 designer-makers across three rooms and over two floors. The Fair offers unique and affordable contemporary craft and design to buy or commission, directly from some of the UK’s best creative talent. Always be sure to bring some cash.. there’s something for everyone.

There’ll be free demonstrations by exhibitors, with visitors having the opportunity to discover more about the crafts of pottery throwing, textile weaving, screenprinting, woodworking, clay sculpting, and more, as well as giving visitors the chance to have a go.

Based on previous years, we expect audiences in the region of 6,000 – 8,000 across the weekend. Please check the website for the information on all the activities!

Are there any artists you’re particularly excited about?
All the artists and designer makers are selected by an independent panel and we’re always amazed by the creative talents who apply to be part of the Arts Trail. Over the weekend we ensure there are times they can come and meet each other and these networking opportunities stimulate collaboration and further plotting of exciting new projects. This year we’re delighted to have received Arts Council funding to commission digital and installation artist Steve Manthorp of ADEPT to create visual arts projections at dusk on the Friday and Saturday evening of the Bank Holiday weekend. If you want to volunteer or find out more please do contact

How did the opportunity come about and what’s your background?
My background is varied, ranging from establishing and managing the Education programme at Bradford Festival 1989-1996 to working at the Arts Council for ten years. I now teach Events Management at Leeds Beckett University, focussing on creative event design. I’ve always been passionate about the arts and volunteering in my local community, and Saltaire Inspired brings these two passions together beautifully.   

Has your experience with events such as the Saltaire Festival and the Bradford Festival been useful?
Oh, absolutely! No matter how simple it appears to put on an event, it’s always far more complex than it seems. There are negotiations with and applications to partners and funders, financial and legal processes to adhere to, public safety regulations to be aware of, marketing and publicity campaigns to manage, volunteers to recruit … and this is all before the event happens! However Saltaire Inspired has a really fabulous team of experienced volunteers and we’re lucky to be able to have a professional part time event manager, Rebecca Henshaw, and publicity manager, Gillian Allmark.

Do you still get time to pursue your own artistic projects? What else have you got going on?
With a full time teaching role and as the volunteer chair of a fabulous event with a growing reputation, it’s hard to find extra time – however I’m undertaking some funded research on the state of circus events in the North in preparation for the 250th anniversary of the birth of circus in the UK in 2018. There’ll be all kinds of celebratory events over the year across the UK – maybe a theme for us to consider at Saltaire Inspired?


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