Eight months ago, when the pandemic first struck, we overhauled our whole way of working in just 14 days. We took our venue-based workshops online to enable us to reach participants who were facing months of unrelenting isolation, loneliness and hardship. Create Live! our online arts workshops platform was born.
It was an unprecedented challenge for the Create team, but we knew how important creativity would be for the wellbeing of the people we work with during this fraught time.
More summer workshops than ever
Using funding provided by Arts Council England, we worked with our professional artists to repurpose our workshops so they could be delivered online. This was a huge team effort and, through hard work and determination, we built relationships with new services and community partners. This summer – via Create Live! – we delivered more workshops across the UK than ever before, which have empowered, upskilled and connected our participants, reducing isolation and enhancing wellbeing.
‘The workshop has woken me up’
The feedback we’ve received has chimed with how truly impactful creativity can be for people’s lives.
Frank (12) is a young carer. He has been caring for his mum who has osteoporosis and sleep apnoea since he was eight. Frank took part in our music workshops via Create Live! in June:
“It has probably been the highlight of my quarantine.” he said. “I enjoyed meeting new people. In quarantine, I don’t normally get to see my friends. Just seeing other people and knowing they’re all other young carers made me feel like it’s not just me.”
Ajay took part in our Zoom photography workshops with adult carers in June and July:
“I’ve learnt that I can be more imaginative and more creative with myself,” he said. “The project is helping me to deal with all the stuff I’m dealing with.”
Of course, for a variety of reasons, not everyone can access the internet, and one of our big challenges was how to reach our older participants when they needed us most. In response, we’ve been delivering one of our music projects over the telephone, with great success:
Margo (78) took part in a phone workshop in May. “It’s made a hell of a difference to me,” she said. “The workshop has woken me up. I was beginning to get tired with nothing to do, no one to talk to.”
We have also received fantastic responses from our community partners, including MYTime Young Carers, which is based in Dorset. “The feedback we received from the participants and their families was exceptional,” said Krista Cartlidge, MYTime Chief Executive. “After the project, one mother wrote to me to say: ‘It all brought a tear to my eye. The creativity and ideas produced in ONLY three days, without specialist photography equipment and all far apart, was just AMAZING! I think all the children will feel now that they have had a very special collaboration with others. I think you have sparked a new interest in the children for some that shall last a lifetime.’”
Our commitment during lockdown
The second lockdown will be challenging for so many people. But with Create Live! running smoothly we’re primed to continue delivering our projects across the UK, bringing people together through online arts workshops.
Between now and the end of the year, we have already scheduled 15 projects to be delivered through Create Live! – with many more to follow in early 2021.
We adapt Create Live! to suit each participant group’s specific needs. For example, as part of creative:explorers, in December and January we will be working with special educational needs children in Stratford, delivering our workshops digitally while the students are in school. We will connect three separate classrooms through Create Live! and bring the children from separate bubbles together to make music and visual art together.
During November and December, we are also teaming up with Carers Trust to deliver art, writing, music and photography workshops with adult carers in Claydon, Eastbourne, Enfield, Guildford, Leeds, Liverpool and the London Boroughs of Lewisham and Tower Hamlets. The magic of Create Live! enables us to bring these geographically distant groups together, to share experiences, build skills and reduce isolation.
Our commitment to the incredible people we work with up and down the country – the young and adult carers, frail older people, disabled children and adults, young refugees and many more – is to continue bringing creativity into their lives. We are passionate about connecting people and using the power of the creative arts to empower lives, build skills and promote wellbeing.
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