Greetings from breezy Blackpool!
Aunty Social is a community arts organisation that gives people opportunities to develop their creativity, learn new skills and connect with others through positive arty activities.
We coordinate a diverse programme of arts and cultural activities designed to bring people together in a safe, supportive, gentle space.
A little history
We started out back in 2011 as a group of friends who wanted something fun, affordable and social to do. There were very few ways to meet new people that didn’t involve going to a pub or a bar. So we raided our attics, scoured our wardrobes and went off to a car boot sale to raise £30 for our very first workshop.
Since then, we’ve done all manner of lovely activities and reaching thousands of local people. In the past, we’ve received funding from a variety of sources such as Arts Council England, Blackpool Council, BFI, Richmond Fellowship, Leftcoast, Street to Scale and EU Youth Initiatives, but we receive no regular funding.
Grant funding is not the majority of our income. We really believe in sustainability and work hard to earn our own income through workshop delivery, research and creative retail sales; making sure that projects can pay for themselves or each-other.
Fast forward to 2023 and we now have a variety of projects on the go as well as online arts and culture magazine Blackpool Social Club and the Winter Gardens Film Festival. We’re still completely volunteer-run and led; we are super proud of all our helpers who help us put on events and activities to a professional standard.
We’re led by volunteers who identify as traditionally marginalised members of the community. It follows that we’re strong advocates of social justice and run ongoing projects that centre and uplift the voices of others who are marginalised, namely LGBTQIA+ people, women and people of colour. Our projects not only raise awareness of current issues, but often go on to raise funds and resources for local support services. We are active campaigners, often supporting people into civic engagement and participation around issues such as climate change and the harassment of women in pubic spaces.
What about the future?
Well, we’re keen to build on everything we’ve achieved. We’re looking to employ staff to help us with our new venue and with office work – hey, if we can do all of this in our free time on evenings and weekends, imagine what we could achieve if we had some help!
All in all, we want to continue offering the people of the Fylde Coast even more great things to do and opportunities to connect. We want to share and make great art in our local communities so we can all enjoy all the social benefits.
Aunty Social is a collective and group of colleagues that treat each other and the people who take part in our activities with respect and fairness, working together to ensure a safe and caring environment for everybody.
We know that many current systems and institutional practises damage the potential and wellbeing of artists and local people. We seek transformation by centring the needs of those who are ignored by or who face barriers put in place by current systems.
We choose to do better.
We choose to create space where creatives (both current and in-waiting) can feel safe and supported. We believe that this type of environment helps all of us to be our most creative selves.
We’re proud to be a feminist organisation and the following principles play a central role in our work.
- We want to help our community feel more empowered.
- We’re all about creating safe and comforting spaces where creativity can flourish.
- Equity, justice and the fair distribution of resources drive us.
- We’re constantly learning and growing and want to do this hand in hand with our community.
We want to give people opportunities to develop their creativity, learn new skills and meet new friends by coordinating specialist projects relating to:
- Film exhibition and filmmaking
- Creative Retail
- Visual Arts and Crafts
- Hyperlocal Arts Reporting
- Local Heritage
- Informal and structured arts learning and professional development
How we want to work
Aunty Social is an organisation and group of colleagues that treat each other and the people who take part in our activities with respect and fairness, working together to ensure a safe and caring environment for everybody. We believe that this type of environment helps all of us to be our most creative selves.
- Treat eachother with respect – we will not make personal attacks or rude, disrespectful or offensive comments/actions.
- Take every care that Aunty Social is an harassment-free experience for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, or religion. We do not tolerate harassment of any form, including (but not limited to) offensive comments, deliberate misgendering or use of ‘dead’ or rejected names, deliberate “outing” of any aspect of a person’s identity without their consent, threats of violence, unwelcome comments regarding a person’s lifestyle choices and practices, including those related to food, health, parenting, drugs, and employment.
- Not tolerate bullying or intimidation of anyone – we will call out anything that might be construed as bullying or intimidation, whether the comments relate to an individual, organisation or anyone else.
- Not disclose confidential information.
- Use content warnings when appropriate
- Credit work appropriately. We will make sure that we give appropriate credit for writing, images and artistic work.
- Pay artists fairly.
- We will pay the Real Living Wage as a minimum in our PAYE posts.
- When advertising freelance opportunities, we will base payments to freelancers on the Artists Union rates of pay.
- As we are a voluntary organisation, artists may want to volunteer their time. In these cases, we will (as a minimum) offer to cover materials and expenses.
- De-programme from grind/hustle culture.
In 2019 The World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared burnout to be an occupational phenomenon. It stems from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed, leading to “feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy.”
Our working practice needs to be centred on rest, kindness and care, for ourselves and for each other.
Paying a Real Living Wage
On 14 June 2021 we were accredited as living wage employer. This means that all of our colleagues, including contractors, receive the minimum hourly wage set by the Real Living Wage foundation each year (currently £10.90).These rates are significantly higher than the government minimum for over-23s, which currently stands at £9.50 per hour.
The Real Living Wage is the only rate calculated according to the costs of living. It provides a voluntary benchmark for employers who wish to ensure their staff earn a wage they can live on, not just the government minimum.
For more information on the Living Wage, please visit the Living Wage UK Website.