Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Swanning around to give Burton a boost

I am delighted to be on the Burton Swans team - an exciting 'first' for my home town of Burton-on-Trent.

It will bring together businesses, established and emerging artists, community groups and schools, and create a 10-week outdoor art trail throughout summer 2020.

A flock of 25 super-sized, decorated swans will nestle into new homes around the town and its open spaces. The trail will be easy to walk in a day and will give local people and tourists alike a chance to rediscover some of the hidden gems of our town.

Now, businesses and artists have just a few weeks left if they want to be part of the project, which will also raise funds for the Burton & District YMCA.

My good friend and colleague Tilley Bancroft, of the award-winning Red Door Studios, had the idea for Burton Swans and is the project manager. She's thrilled that it’s all going swimmingly.

Tilley Bancroft
Tilley said: “We’ve had fantastic support from businesses of all types and sizes, ranging from Marston’s Brewery and Vodafone to micro-businesses and sole traders. There’s still a chance for more businesses to get involved, and for artists to submit designs, until the last day of December 2019.”

A mobile app is being developed that will unlock surprises, rewards or special offers from the swan sponsors when anyone finds their swan. 

The next exciting step comes at the end of January there will be a design exhibition in Burton where sponsors – or ‘swan-sors’ - can choose the design they want for their swan and network with other project partners. Artists whose designs are chosen will receive a £500 honorarium once they have completed their swan artwork.

The swans, which are 1.5 metres tall, will sit on a plinth inscribed with the details of their sponsor, or sponsors. Tilley added: “For businesses that don’t have the budget to sponsor a swan on their own we can put them together with other businesses to share the cost. Opportunities start from £250.”

Adam Bates, marketing manager from Hardy Signs, has explained that the Burton Swans project had instant appeal for them.

He said: “We recognised the project as a great opportunity to celebrate creativity, heritage and community spirit. We’re delighted to be involved and we are sure the project will have a hugely positive impact, inspiring pride across the town. It’s also fitting that, in the process, the project will help those in our community who need it most through the incredible work of the Burton & District YMCA.”

In October 2020, the swans will be auctioned to raise funds for Burton YMCA’s work with the homeless and people in crisis.

Getting into the Christmas spirit, over at Burton's Brewhouse Arts Centre, Tilley and her team have been decorating one of the swans.

The Brewhouse is also part-subsidising the cost of an artist visiting local schools with a smaller cygnet sculpture for pupils to decorate. Support for the schools' project has also come from the Transforming the Trent Valley fund.

Artists who want to submit a swan design can download guidelines and an information pack from the Burton Swans website

Would-be sponsors and artists can also contact Tilley on tilley@burtonswans.co.uk or call her on 07752 745035.