The second season of an exciting new three-year programme of creative events is being rolled out by Libraries Unlimited in Devon and Torbay this autumn. 

Last year the charity secured a £720,369 grant from Arts Council England to boost its thriving programme of music, films, workshops and high-quality community events between 2023 and 2026. The first season, entitled Pride of Place, launched a programme workshops, performances, art and music events celebrating where people live. Hundreds of people enjoyed taking part during the spring and early summer. 

Now ‘Get Creating!’ will encourage local communities to try their hand at everything from sewing to charcoal drawing, and discover the artist that lies in everyone. 

The sessions kick off in August and run through until November at three key libraries – Barnstaple, Exeter and Paignton. 

Rae Hoole, from Libraries Unlimited, said: “The first stage of our new programme facilitated by this generous funding from Arts Council England went really well. Now we’re excited to build on that with a fantastic range of arts and creativity workshops and activities for all ages. We’re deliberately making many of these free of charge and aimed at families as well, so we can encourage even more people to come to their local library and see everything we have to offer. Everyone has creative potential, and it’s never more fun when we’re learning new skills and creating things together.” 

To book tickets and see full programme listings, visit librariesevolve.org.uk/events. 

BARNSTAPLE 

Saturday 23rd September 10.30am – 12noon 
Discovering postmodern writing 
£2.50, Over 13s 

This workshop introduces readers to the common themes, techniques and styles of postmodern books, an exciting genre that offers endless possibilities. Participants will have the chance to try their pen at an optional writing session. No prior creative writing experience is necessary and all are welcome. The workshop is run by the University of Derby's Creative Writing alumna Emma Ward. 

Saturday 7th October 10am – 12noon and 1 – 3pm 
Make a bird for the Reading Tree with artist James Lake 
Free All ages welcome 

The Reading Tree, created by artist James Lake, needs some friends! Help him make a flock of cardboard birds to decorate the library. If you would like a bird to fly home with you, please leave a donation. 

Saturday 21st October 10am – 12noon and 1 – 3pm 
Create a cardboard birdhouse with artist James Lake 
£10 Over 8s 

Exeter-based sculptor James Lake was commissioned by Libraries Unlimited to create the remarkable Reading Tree, which is now in Barnstaple Library. Designed to be placed at the heart of the library, the Reading Tree creates an inclusive space under which to gather and spend time. In this workshop enjoy learning about crafting with cardboard with James and make a house for a bird to take home. 

Saturday 21st October 10 – 11.30am and 12.30 – 2pm 
What Comes Up Must Come Down with Sciencedipity 
£15 per child accompanied by a grown up Ages 4 – 7 

Devon-based Sciencedipity is an award winning CIC whose mission is to create fun, inspirational science learning experiences accessible to all families in the community. To celebrate October 21st, Apple Day, this special session centres around gravity, inspired by the fabled moment when the apple dropped on Isaac Newton's head. Explore gravity defying science with hands-on experiments and take home what you make.

Wednesday 1st November Opening hours throughout the whole of November 
The Nest art installation 
Free 

Drop in to the foyer and take a look at the Nest. Significant Seams' artists and participants find creative inspiration from nature, using flowers, minerals, plants, silks, bark, and wool and reclaimed fabrics. In 2019, they worked with over 200 unpaid carers through 50 art workshops, ultimately co-creating The Carer’s Nest, a large-scale sculptural piece representing the experience of being an unpaid carer. 

Saturday 4th November 10am – 3pm 
Everyone can make great art with charcoal 
£35 Over-16s 

Whether you're completely new to drawing or an experienced artist, this workshop will provide you with the opportunity to push charcoal, as a drawing medium, to its limits. You will receive a full explanation and demonstration from Exeter artist Richard Rochester. Participants don’t need to bring anything and don’t need to have any previous experience or be ‘good at drawing’. Images will be provided although participants are welcome to bring their own or draw from life. 

Saturday 18th November 10am – 1pm and 2 – 4pm 
Sew someone you care 
£10 For over-7s 

The ‘care emoji’ offers the virtual hug we all sometimes need. In this workshop, make 3D care emojis to be able to offer a hug to someone when we can’t be with them, or to say thank you for something they have done. This project is inspired by the more than 130,000 unpaid carers in Devon, and will be in the foyer alongside the giant Nest installation made by unpaid carers with Significant Seams artists in 2019. 

EXETER 

Saturday 26th August 9am – 5pm 
Summer fun day 
Free 

Library takeover for a celebration of the Summer Reading Challenge. There will be numerous kids’ activities throughout the building including a bouncy castle, face painter, soft play, sports demos, and games. 

Friday 3rd November 8pm – 10pm This is your Musical! Tickets General: £13 Concession (U18, O65, student, disabled): £10 (all plus booking fee if booking via Eventbrite) 
Suitable for all ages 

Prepare to be amazed as you witness the creation of a brand new musical theatre show, courtesy of The Bristol Improv Theatre’s flagship musical theatre company, This Is Your Musical! Take your seats as this team of talented actors and musicians present a magnificent evening of theatre, musical numbers and show-tunes, made-up on the spot and inspired by your stories. This night of musical fun is not to be missed! 

Thursday 28th, Friday 29th, Saturday 30th September Doors 7.30pm Performance 8 – 10.30pm 
Washing Machine of Destiny - a theatre performance 
Pay what you choose: £6 / £10 / £15 + booking fee Over 12s 

The Washing Machine of Destiny is an 80-minute theatre show created by two Devon fellas on the autistic spectrum, Luca Saunders and Philip Robinson. They share their passions for music, technology, mystery adventures, superheroes, and magic, in a bonkers, eclectic mixture of characters and story. Directed by Pippa Marriott, the play aims to communicate the neurodivergent experiences of its creators in an entertaining and enlightening way. 

Friday 6th October 8 – 10.30pm (doors open at 7pm) 
Music in the library with Hands of the Heron 
General: £10 Concession (U18, O65, student, disabled): £8 

Hands of the Heron is a dream folk trio from Bristol, UK. Their instantly recognisable vocal harmonies are delivered by three frontwomen - Bec Garthwaite, Bethany M. Roberts and Claire Vine - each of whom brings a signature writing style to the band's mercurial sound. They move effortlessly between sparse choral folk and spellbinding chamber pop, richly layered with an assortment of strings, drones and reeds. 

Wednesday 25th October 7.30 – 8.30pm 
Paddleboat Theatre presents - 'Framed' 
£7 Over 8s 

The legendary detective Rufus Caper has been framed and needs your help to uncover the truth. PaddleBoat Theatre Company presents a thrilling family whodunit. Expect music, puppetry, physical comedy and more. Come and help us catch the clues and spot the suspects before Rufus goes down for a crime he didn’t commit! 

PAIGNTON 

Saturday 12th August 10am – 4pm Family Fun Festival 
FREE event for families 

Library takeover for a fun summer celebration. Come along and join in with children’s balloon modelling, a magic show, stalls, dance workshops, refreshments and more! 

Monday 21st August Three performances 10am, 11am and 1pm.
Silly Squirrel with Above Bounds Theatre 
£3 Family event for under 7s 

Pull up a picnic blanket and join Above Bounds Theatre for this playful pop-up puppet show. Silly Squirrel lives in a big oak tree and has big ideas. Watch as the squirrel emerges from a picnic basket, to explore beyond the oak tree and discovers just what they can do! Silly Squirrel was first commissioned by Libraries Unlimited for the Summer Reading Challenge in 2020 and was created into a short film, playing across 50 libraries in Devon social media channels in August 2020. This is the perfect introduction to theatre for under 7s. 

Saturday 9th September Two performances 10 – 11am and 2 – 3pm 
Paddleboat Theatre presents - 'Framed' (in partnership with the Agatha Christie Festival) 
£7 Adults, £4 Children Over 8s 

The legendary detective Rufus Caper has been framed and needs your help to uncover the truth. PaddleBoat Theatre Company presents a thrilling family whodunit. Expect music, puppetry, physical comedy and more. Come and help us catch the clues and spot the suspects before Rufus goes down for a crime he didn’t commit! 

Saturday 7th October 12noon – 2pm 
Poetry & Art Workshop & performance with Chris Tutton 
£5 Adults 

Can a poem be written about an image or a piece of art? Celebrate National Poetry Day with leading poet, author and raconteur, Chris Tutton, exploring links between poetry and art in this friendly and interactive workshop. The afternoon will then conclude with a performance of Chris’ poetry. 

Saturday 14th October 11am – 3pm 
Open mic day 
Free All ages 

Join us at Paignton Library for live music, comedy, poetry and theatre at our first ever Open Mic Day! Local artist Rhys Davies from band Bootleggers Turn will be hosting the event, where we will open the floor to local artists to showcase their skills and perform. The atmosphere will be laid back and cosy with hot refreshments to purchase and comfy seats to sit back, relax and enjoy. Join in with the songs, laugh along to the comedy and be inspired by the theatre, our open mic day will be a new library experience for all ages and identities. 

Tuesday 24th October 10.30am – 12.30pm 
Inky autumn tales 
£3 - £5 pay what you can Families 

Inspired by The Big Draw Festival, a chance to explore lots of different fun drawing materials and inks to create some wonderful vivid images. Make an artwork to take away and participate in a large collaborative drawing. 

Tuesday 24th October 2.30 – 4.30pm 
Light up lanterns 
£3 – 5 pay what you can Families 

Inspired by your favourite stories, create black silhouette characters and landscapes on to colourful backgrounds. See your images illuminated as they are transformed into a magical paper lantern. Designed for the days getting shorter in the autumn season, the lanterns will come with a battery operated light. 

Saturday 18th November 10.30am – 12.30pm, 
MED theatre workshop 
£3 - £5 Pay what you can Families 

Watch a short performance of a Devon mythology from two MED Theatre performers…but the story is missing its ending! Participants are invited to come up with an ending to the folktale of Jan Coo, before the professional performers from MED Theatre act their endings. Will Jan Coo’s story end happily or does he come to a sticky end? The answer is in the minds of the library goers on the day! 

Once again, other libraries across Devon and Torbay will also be hosting a range of activities and events celebrating creativity. These will include print and digital media workshops, theatre productions, and music performances and workshops. 

On Saturday 5th August, South Molton Library will host Boxes of Delight and Scrolls of Wonder. Join storyteller, Sara Hurley and singer and maker, Wendy Dacre in a spellbinding medley of interactive visual storytelling and performance. They tell stories using Crankies (picture scrolls) and Kamishibai (picture cards) that they have made. The show is threaded with fascinating information about their history and mechanics. 

Join Sara and Wendy in a ‘make your own Crankie workshop’ where you can convert a small box into a mini crankie to create a picture scroll inspired by an animal journey. This intergenerational workshop combines narrative, image making and optional performing. 

The performance is free and will run from 2pm - 2.45pm. The workshop will take place from 3 -5:30pm, for a small cost of £3 per person. Booking is advised, either from the library or on Eventbrite. 

See what’s on at your local library by visiting the Devon website or Torbay website. 

To book tickets and see full programme listings, visit librariesevolve.org.uk/events. 

Following on from Get Creating, in December ‘A Better Tomorrow’ will launch as a programme of events to celebrate local action and the global environment. 

The award secured Libraries Unlimited place as an Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation (NPO). 

Libraries in Devon and Torbay are run by Libraries Unlimited, an independent staff and community owned charity. Join up for free by filling in the online form. Join the Library - Devon (devonlibraries.org.uk) or Torbay (torbaylibraries.org.uk). Follow Libraries Unlimited on Facebook. 

For further information and full contact details please visit our web page librariesunlimited.org.uk. 

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Libraries Unlimited is an independent charity, which runs the public library service in Devon and Torbay. Each local library has something for everyone: books and information, eBooks, eAudiobooks, audiobooks digital magazines and newspapers, music, films, computers with access to the Internet, free…