Independent Arts became a registered charity in 1987, but its origins go back even further. Carol Martys established Independent Arts, was its first Director, and remains a patron of the charity. Here, she recounts how it all started:
"I had initiated a drama group at Parkhurst prison in 1983 with scriptwriter Ray Allen [who wrote the TV series Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em]. The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Arts officer came over to the island to see the work and asked me to chair a committee for an enterprise he was setting up on the mainland called Solent Arts.
At the same time, Hugh Harrison received finance from Community Service Volunteers (CSV) to set up a project on the Island. It was called Blow Your Own Trumpet. I was offered the position of Director. It involved training musicians, artists, dancers and others to teach and entertain the elderly, and adults with learning disabilities, in both the state and private residential homes. These were the areas most in need of creative facilities. Its success was reflected by CSV allocating a second year’s funding.
By the time Blow Your Own Trumpet finished, Independent Arts was up and running. Broadcaster Khalid Aziz became our first Chairman; Hugh Harrison, Tim Neale (then head of Radio Solent), and our own Island MP at the time, Baron Ross of Newport, were among the Trustees and Lord Mottistone was our President.
In 1987 Independent Arts became a Registered Charity.
As the work expanded, we were able to employ a music and an art manager. As for an office, originally we were working from my home, then with BYOT, at the Quay Arts; then we moved to Whitecroft hospital where we had an enormous ward to ourselves. Finally, we were able to have our own place. Actress Sheila Hancock, who used to support me in my prison work, opened the premises for us.
Unfortunately, due to personal circumstances, I had to relinquish my position as Director but Anthony Minghella, who also supported my prison work, managed to get a large grant from Red Nose Day which enabled the charity to employ a back-up team.
Our slogan in those early days was "Something to look forward to" which we felt – and I still do – is every person’s right.
I feel very proud that an idea I had has lasted for over a quarter of a century – but also very humble that a team of dedicated people made it happen."
Carol Martys, 2012
Carol Martys, founder and patron