PEOPLE in Swindon are being urged to become more arty.

Swindon Council is aiming to get three per cent more residents engaged in artistic past-times.

The town has received £20,000 from the Arts Council to spend on helping people find their creative side.

“The key thing we want to do first is raise the profile of what we mean by the arts,” said Helen Miah, Swindon Council’s head of culture.

“We want people to understand that art is about more than painting and drawing. It includes writing, embroidery, knitting and all sorts of things.”

The campaign – Swindon Does Arts – was launched at the Wyvern Theatre yesterday.

Workshops, performances, demonstrations and debates were laid on.

The campaign is targeting young people aged 16 to 25 who may not be in touch with their creative sides. Ms Miah said: “There are fewer activities available when young people reach this age.”

It is estimated that 38.3 per cent of Swindon residents are engaged in arts and the Government has set the town a target of reaching 41.3 per cent by March 2011.

She said: “My dream situation is to smash that target and have significant improvement.”

About 40 groups have pledged support to the campaign, including Mobile Media, Commonweal School, Swindon Music Service and Artsmad.

“This is the art community of Swindon coming together because it is a great thing to do,” said Helen.

“I have been working on raising the profile of the arts and getting the art community to work together for five years.”

Mike Pringle, the director of the Swindon Cultural Partnership, delivered a speech, saying there were many different types of art.

He brought along guitars he had made himself to illustrate his version of art.

He said: “We want people to stand up and say: ‘this is my art.’ Go to your closet, pull out whatever your art is and let’s just shout about it.”

A telephone survey will measure whether residents’ engagement in arts has gone up.

Helen said: “There are hundreds of people in Swindon taking part in art – they are in choirs, in amateur reading groups and so on.”