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The Hertfordshire Visual Arts Forum was launched in 1990 as part of Hertfordshire County Council's Arts Development Strategy for Hertfordshire. The aim was to give artists a voice within the county, highlight opportunities and encourage them to establish professional structures and contacts.
Artists themselves ran HVAF from the outset. Many founder members together with new, enthusiastic volunteers, laid the foundations for the increasingly effective, supportive and active organisation it is today. Our major achievements have resulted from members' ideas and input.
An early initiative was our annual Open Studios event. Starting with only 17 studios in 1991, it has become one of the county's popular late summer events. There are now about 200 artists involved each year throughout Hertfordshire.
1996 was another big step forward when a member suggested and set up the HVAF website. This has become an increasingly valuable two-way tool for information about and for the members. It is growing and being updated constantly and acts as a superb shop window for members' skills and services.
Our newsletter has also grown from a photocopied sheet, to a mix of News Updates filled with news and opportunities interspersed with larger newsletters in colour, with room for articles, artists' profiles and pictures alongside those items regularly displayed on our website.
Sub groups based on the various art forms are very popular for networking and working together. Some exciting ventures have been run by these groups. The sculptor's group have taken part in the Puckeridge Open Gardens scheme,. shown their work in Platform Art at Gloucester Road underground station, at Commonswood School, and Hanbury Manor.
What was then called the Crafts Group, visited Niregyhaza, Hungary in 1995.
A number of members have undertaken public art commissions for the county and members have been involved in a project to list county sculptures, in co-operation with the PMSA. These are gradually being included on the County Council website, with maps and illustrations.
Members have run two Business of Art Seminars and been involved with county initiatives, such as the Green Heart Project, aimed at improving facilities and awareness for the visual arts and Creative Herts, aimed at creative professional people and firms in Hertfordshire.