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Character Portraits Project

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Arts Council England approved MFAA's application for £15,000 grant funding towards the project which has also attracted considerable 'in-Kind' contributions from project partners, sponsors and other supporters. 


The project began on Friday, 1st June 2018 at Cradley Heath Library where member Warren McCabe-Smith demonstrated portraiture working with artist model Trevor Purcell who volunteers to support communities in Rowley Regis.

MFAA collabored with partners Dudley Council for Voluntary Service (DCVS), Sandwell Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) and Sandwell Networkers Group who helped with identifying character models from among Dudley and Sandwell volunteers.  These volunteers and many more make up a vast army of helpers who supply various support  services in their local communities.

In addition, Greenwich Leisure Limited (Dudley Libraries)  and Sandwell Library Service provided 12 library sites, where the public could experience the real-life portrait work being undertaken.

Closing date for artists to submit entries to the selection process was 21st December 2017.  The selection was finally agreed by the judges from Cradley Heath Creative, Dudley & Sandwell Council and Midland Film & Art on 8th January 2018.  Some 24 artists, 2 writers and 3 actors have been selected to take part.

The original indications from both Dudley and Sandwell Councils was positive but communications with Dudley became an issue. That resulted in an approach being made to Dudley Council for Voluntary Service (DCVS) who agreed to work with the project towards ensuring all 12 characters would be found from within Dudley's volunteer sector to participate in recognition for what each gives to their community. 

Sandwell Council have already begun to identify characters to participate and on 1st February all 6 township chairmen agreed to support the project with names of characters. This is being backed up by Sandwell Networkers Group with a wide membership of volunteer representatives throughout the Borough.

From the meeting Harry had with Lynda Wattis for Greenwich Leisure Limited (Dudley Libraries) and Chris Ash for Sandwell Libraries Services early in February both services have agreed to fully support the project.  Each service has nominated 6 libraries in their areas as venues where the portraiture art will take place in public view.   Other venues include the DY1 volunteers hub at Dudley, the 'Oss Box' mobile art studio of Cradley Heath Creative and The Art Yard.


Clear outcomes from the project have been given by Sandwell Library Service and Dudley CVS. Sandwell intend for their collection to be toured as a single exhibition about their 19 libraries.  Dudley CVS have identified their 'DY1' premises in Dudley as offering an ideal setting to hang their portraits collection. DY1 is a primary hub for voluntary services in Dudley and the portraits will provide a backdrop from which to showcase the importance that volunteer giving is to that area.

An application was submitted to the Arts Council (England) on Monday, March 12th 2018 to resource the project and has successfully passed stage one.  Our founding patron (Cradley Heath Film), sponsors and The Art Yard Team (MFAA) plan to support the project going forward with 'in kind' contributions and hundreds of hours of volunteer time.

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