`

Tate Gallery plans Doncaster link-up as arts centre marks 20 years

Artist Nick Lewis pictured with attendees during a family workshop at The Point, in Doncaster. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP The Point MC 2
Artist Nick Lewis pictured with attendees during a family workshop at The Point, in Doncaster. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP The Point MC 2

Nearly 20 years ago, Doncaster was celebrating a new arts centre.

Two decades on, The Point arts centre on South Parade is firmly established in the map, with plans to mark the anniversary later this year.

Rufus Sylvester, 11 and Trinity Bayley, 13, pictured taking part in the Music Workshop at the Point. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP The Point MC 4

Rufus Sylvester, 11 and Trinity Bayley, 13, pictured taking part in the Music Workshop at the Point. Picture: Marie Caley NDFP The Point MC 4

Details of how the venue, the home of the Doncaster community arts group, Darts, will mark its two decades of providing arts for the Doncaster public later this year, have not been finalised

But plans for projects include joint programmes involving the both the Tate Gallery and the National Gallery of Scotland, galleries which house some of the most famous art in the UK

Assistant director at The Point, Helen Jones, said: "Darts was founded in 1998, and we're working towards marking that this year. We're about accessing the areas for people of all ages."

Work on its attractions for the year is well on.

"We've got some fantastic things coming on," said Helen. "We're looking at having the Tate involved for September.. We will be working with the Tate Gallery and the National Gallery of Scotland."

It is part of one of the organisation's stated ambition to bring great art into Doncaster, but no more details on the scheme are yet available. An announcement it due later in the year.

But the bread and butter work at the Point is the many free activities that the centre provides for families and the wider Doncaster community, including many activities for people with disabilities and illnesses.

Those activities are part of a busy schedule, which those who run the venue want to build on.

At present The Point has 800 workshops and 40,000 visits a year. In addition to that, there are 65 other organisations using the building.

Over the last five years, they have extended their opening hours by 20 per cent, and increased the activities going on there by 50 per cent.

However, occupancy rates of the rooms at the venue are only 40 per cent, It is one of the organisation's ambitions to increase that figure. They are looking at creating an action plan to double that occupancy rate over the next five years.

The last couple of years have seen the group work with more than half the borough's schools, but they are hoping to double school visits to 50 classes a year by next March

There have been many changes since The Point first opened. It has always housed artwork, but it has housed a proper gallery since 2011.

Helen said: "If you took a working week, we would be working with adults with mental health issues, adults living with dementia in what has been a really successful programme, and young children with disabilities. We have families, school visits, family workshops with artists, drama productions and a music festival, which everyone can access in terms of the public.

"We recently had a group of year nines from Hall Cross School, and many of them had never been here. They were blown away by it.

"But I think our accessibility is what we are most proud of. My passion is about putting really brilliant art on people's doorstep, which is for free."

Programmes manager Hayley Beecher tries to make sure there are plenty of activities available.

They include Saturday family workshops and and Tuesday art clubs, a junior chair and young writers group for teenagers.

She said: "The main thing about the Saturday workshops is that families can come in and create something together - something in the moment, or something to take home. I think its unique in that it is adult and child friendly, with the adults involved too so they can work together.."

Tate involved in exhibition

The Point has been selected to be part of the national Artist Rooms programme in September.

Artist Rooms is a touring collection of over 1,600 works of modern and contemporary art.

A spokesman for the programme said: "The collection is displayed across the UK in solo exhibitions that showcase the work of more than 40 major artists, and this touring programme gives young people the chance to get involved in creative projects, discover more about art and learn new skills. Since 2009, 40 million people have visited more than 150 displays at over 75 museums and galleries."