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Heritage: Arts

Arts projects can be a powerful way to engage people by stimulating thought and emotions to consider new and deeper ways to look at life’s big questions and current issues.

The Diocese of Chester has an Arts and Faith Network. If you have been involved in an arts project or are considering this in the future, please get in touch.

Below are resources and suggestions to consider in managing the care of art works and developing art projects.


Art, Artefacts and Conservation

Guidance on how to care for church treasures is available from the Church of England’s ChurchCare website, which provides the following advice:

  • Conservation Principles
  • Building performance
  • Managing Conservation Projects
  • Working with Conservators
  • Conservation Reports
  • Caring for Your Treasures
  • Protecting Treasures
  • Display Cases
  • Grants
  • Case Studies
  • Introducing New Art

Ideas for Arts Engagement projects

The arts can take many forms, from painting and drawing to craft, textiles, sculpture, light installations, music, dance, film, animation, photography and creative writing to name a few. Here are suggestions for projects that could run in your church, although by no means an exhaustive list:

  • Community art classes
  • Arts healing workshops, classes or events
  • Community art event that enables people to explore the church building in a different light. As one example of linking with a national drawing event, you might like to consider The Big Draw- the world’s largest arts festival
  • Arts festival, perhaps for the church to be one venue in a town/village festival
  • Art exhibition of work produced by professional artist(s)
  • In partnership with community group(s), a project to produce artwork as a response to the church building, its heritage or its role in the community and exhibit in the church
  • Touring exhibition of art work in a selection of churches
  • Art installation in the church building, for example, sculptural piece in the galleries
  • Light installation inside the church or projected on the exterior of the building
  • Music performance or concert series
  • Dance performance
  • Film performance
  • Poetry reading event
  • Creative writing project
  • Schools project, encouraging schools to visit the church building for studying art
  • Commissioning a film or music piece
  • Commissioning art work as a permanent feature in the church building and/or grounds
  • Commissioning a photographer to record a church building re-ordering or conservation project, which could later form an exhibition and/or on-line gallery
  • Guided tours of the church with an arts and architecture focus
  • Interpretation material for the arts and architecture in the church building, for example, a trail leaflet


Finding artists and developing projects

The following organisations include examples of artists work for inspiration and assistance with sourcing artists. Some also offer guidance on developing projects, including running a grants scheme or suggesting other funding sources:

Christian Arts organisations

  • Diocese of Chester: Arts & Faith Network. The Arts & Faith Network have produced a list of artists offering workshops, exhibitions and performance for parishes and communities. See the 'RESOURCES' section of their webpage.
  • The Anchor Foundation support Christian charities concerned with social inclusion particularly through ministries of healing and the arts, including offering grants
  • Art and Christianity Enquiry provides a wealth of information oneducational projects and publications, advice, information and skills. See their section 'Ecclesiart' for a list of national art commissions and installations in places of worship- great inspiration!
  • Art and Sacred Places  provide a national arts consultancy and commissioning agency which specialises in promoting interaction between faith and the contemporary visual arts
  • Christian Arts  are an ecumenical organisation supporting artists. They run an annual conference and have a newsletter for members
  • Christian Arts Trust. A charity dedicated to the advancement of the Christian faith and promoting and encouraging appreciation of Christian arts. They run a small grants scheme.
  • Church of England ChurchCare offers advice on commissioning new art
  • Cottham Will Trust  (administered by Friends of Friendless Churches) provides small grants for commissioning new works of art in medieval churches
  • Art Alive in Churches. Useful inspiration to see what's happening in Dioceses in East Anglia
  • One Friday- a new ecumenical initiative to support churches across the nation in running community arts projects around the themes of Good Friday


Local authority Arts Development teams

It may be useful to make links with Arts Development Officers, if your area has such as post. They may be able to assist with finding artists for running events or commissioning art work, offer advice on delivering projects, provide up to date knowledge of initiatives and funding and so on.

  • Cheshire East Details of the Arts Team and arts/heritage provision in the area.
  • Cheshire West and Chester Details of the Arts Team and information on arts activities and groups in the area, as well as guidance on planning activities.
  • YourCheshireWest also has useful information on the arts
  • Cheshire West and Chester Voluntary Arts Network. A new organisation is being set up to act as a coordinating body for voluntary arts groups across Cheshire West and Chester. Sign up to their regular ArtsLink e-bulletin by sending them an email.
  • Chainlinks enewsletter . A enewsletter from Cheshire West and Chester Council. Sign up to receive regular information about arts in the area
  • Halton The Arts Development Team is based at the Brindley Arts Centre and can offer guidance on developing an arts project in the area
  • Stockport There doesn't seem to be an Arts Development Officer but the Art Gallery may (or may not) be able to assist/be open to collaborative projects
  • Tameside. Details of the Arts and Engagement team. The council's funding page includes mention of 'The Arts Funding Guide' 
  • Warrington There doesn't seem to be an Arts Development Officer but local cultural venues may (or may not) be able to offer guidance

Local community arts

There may be possiblities to partner with a local organisation to create a project. For example:


Regional arts organisations

In addition to the Diocese of Chester Arts and Faith Network,  below are suggestions for regional arts organisations that may be of benefit:

  • Action Transport Theatre  A young people’s theatre company
  • Art Up Close South Cheshire group of 100 artists. Useful resource for finding an artist for an exhibition, commission or running a workshop
  • Axis Arts Centre Based at Manchester Metropolitan University: Cheshire campus (Crewe)
  • Business in the Arts North West  Programmes include providing free help to the arts and museums and opportunities for businesses to connect with community projects, for example, volunteering to be on a Board and sharing business expertise
  • Cheshire Artists’ Network  A network of a diverse range of visual artists and craftspeople. The network makes links between artists and communities, for example, exhibiting artwork, running community workshops, sharing information and running Cheshire Open Studios event
  • Cheshire Dance An organisation dedicated to dance, including running a programme of performances, classes, supporting practitioners and learning and development opportunities for young people
  • Cheshire Rural Touring Arts  A network of villages that host arts and entertainment events in community venues. Their work spans theatre, music, dance and literature
  • Development of the arts (Northwich) Provides guidance that will also be useful to churches across the Diocese, including funding guidance
  • Urban Cheshire Arts and Chuff Chuff Urban Cheshire is a Creative Urban Arts skills project for young people in Cheshire East
  • WearPurple Arts for older people in Cheshire, run by Age UK Cheshire and supported by Cheshire West and Chester Council


National Arts Organisations

The Arts Council England provide ‘Advice and Guidance’ on managing arts projects and provide ‘Funding’. The North area has several offices, of which the nearest is Manchester. Reading the criteria is essential to see what can and cannot be funded for churches.

There are other organisations that include the arts in their remit, for example, Esmee Fairbairn  is a large funder whose focus is improving the quality of life for people in the UK, including through the arts.

Voluntary Arts. This organisation has a range of guidance sheets. They also run Voluntary Arts Week, which you might like to consider.



Main funders for arts projects

  • Jerusalem Trust for new commissions (artworks) in churches and cathedrals
  • Christian Arts Trust (for wider arts projects)
  • Cottam Will Trust (click on 'Funding for Art' tab for new art works in medieval churches)
  • Garfield Weston ('religion')- although primarily focused on building repairs, it may be worth talking through your project with them
  • Anchor Foundation- small grant scheme for arts and healing projects
  • Local sources- speak with your local authority Arts Development Officer (see links above) or Community Development Officer. Your local area may also have an Area Forum offering funding.
  • Speak with arts organisations for advice, see above section 'Finding artists and developing projects'
  • Conservation of historic art and furnishings. Church of England’s Church Buildings Council (ChurchCare) administers a grants scheme for the conservation of art work
  • Conservation of church treasures and arts projects. The Church of England’s Parish Resources have produced a 'National List of Charitable Grants for Churches'. A range of national grant-giving trusts for arts projects- worth looking through the whole document.
  • Open4Funding (previously known as GrantNet). May be useful. It’s a free and easy database to use on the Diocese of Chester website.


Further funders

  • Big Lottery, Awards for All. Any community group, not for profit group, parish or town council, health body, or school can apply for £300 – £10,000 fo such activities as events, performances, equipment, course, conservation work etc.
  • B&Q.The company donate unsaleable products and waste materials for re-use by recognised community groups and charities, such as slightly damaged tins of paint, off-cuts of timber, broken tiles for mosaic projects
  • Golsoncott Foundation. An arts-funding trust, its declared object is to promote, maintain, improve and advance the education of the public in the arts generally and in particular the fine arts and music
  • Granada Foundation Grants Programme (North West). To encourage and promote the study, practice and appreciation of the fine arts, including drawing, architecture and landscape architecture, sculpture, literature, music, opera, drama, cinema, and the methods and means of their dissemination
  • Radcliffe Trust - Music Grants. The trust supports classical music performance and training especially chamber music, composition and music education
  • vInspired Cashpoint grants scheme. vInspired, the Volunteering Charity, runs a Cashpoint grants scheme of up to £500 to give young people (aged 14-25) the opportunity to bring their ideas to improve their local community to life
  • Youth Music - Grant Making Programmes. Youth Music is England's largest children's music charity, which provides funding for music-making project.  Youth Music will focus on funding developmental music-making projects for children and young people up to the age of 25 and including early years (0 - 5) as well as projects that support the development of the workforce, organisations and the wider sector


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Image credits

  • Wooden sculpture. 'The Cross FOR YOU'.  Dee Rollinson 2010. St John’s Church Centre, Hartford. The designer, Dee Rollinson, states that the conceptual thinking underpinning its construction was to depict the belief that: Jesus died for you, the past and the present are inextricably linked - this centre is for you. 
  • Making the mosaic. St Oswald's Church, Bollington. The church invited people to help make the chosen design for a new permanent art installation in the exterior wall of the church.
  • Painting. 'The Three Faces of Christ', Original Triptych, Oil on oil paper, Dee Rollinson 2005. St John’s Church Centre, Hartford. Inspiration for the triptych came from the poem by author, Trevor Dennis (reproduced in this painting by kind permission of the publishers SPEK).  It forms part of the permanent exhibition, Light of the World. 
  • Stained glass window. St George's Church, Hyde. New commission, 2015.
  • Messy church arts fish, Spring 2015, Holy Trinity, Whaley Bridge
  • Easter Arts Trail, St Alban's Church, Offteron

SStaineStainedSt George’s Church, Hyde. New contemporary stained glass window, installed 2015Stained glass window (interior and exterior photographs). St George’s Church, Hyde. New contemporary stained glass window, installed 2015Stained glass window (interior and exterior photographs). St George’s Church, Hyde. New contemporary stained glass window, installed 2015.Stained glass window (interior and exterior photographs). St George’s Church, Hyde. New contemporary stained glass window, installed 2015.   


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The DAC Office - The office of the Diocesan Advisory Commitee (DAC) has responsibility for progressing faculty applications and providing policy advice on church building matters.  The answer to most popular enquiries will be available via these web pages but do contact the DAC Office if not.  Where appropriate, the DAC Office can put you in touch with churches who have undertaken similar work to any scheme you might be proposing yourself.