A message from our founding CEO Nicky Goulder on Create’s response to Coronavirus – Create Live!
Just two weeks ago, on Tuesday 24 March, Create’s office – in an eerily silent Moorgate – was locked. Other members of the Create team had been working at home since the previous Thursday, battling the now-familiar trials of VPN, WiFi and Zoom. As I walked home across London Bridge, not knowing when I would next be able to unlock that door, my head reeled with the changes that had taken place: we were entering lockdown; every Create project had been postponed; and our participants were facing months of unrelenting isolation, loneliness and hardship.
I founded Create almost 17 years ago at my dining room table. It has since grown into the UK’s leading charity using the creative arts to empower lives, reduce isolation and enhance wellbeing. Throughout the year, our dedicated professional artists run creative arts projects up and down the country with the most disadvantaged and vulnerable children and adults. We bring together primary school children in areas of deprivation with disabled adults. We offer young and adult carers vital time away from their responsibilities. We take workshops into prisons and adolescent mental-health units. We work with older adults experiencing loneliness. These examples – just a selection of the groups of people we work with – highlight our dilemma. To protect vulnerable people and the NHS we must all socially isolate. But how do you respond when reducing isolation is one of your central aims?
The last fortnight has arguably been the busiest I have ever had since starting Create in 2003. I joked with our Chairman last week that, had I told him that I had a new project concept that I wanted to launch in six months’ time, he would probably have said I was being over ambitious and we should allow a year. But 14 days! Knowing that coronavirus means increased isolation and hardship for our participants, I knew we had to find a solution, and there was no time to waste. The Create staff team and I have been working around the clock with a small group of our artists to design and pilot a new way of working.
After extensive consultation with our community partners, trial workshops and many hours of planning to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our participants, we have Create Live!. This new project concept using an online platform will deliver high quality, live, interactive, creative workshops with groups of participants that will be fun, build skills and reduce isolation. There have been technological teething problems but the feedback from last week’s trial workshops has been incredible – now more than ever creativity can be a powerful tool for enhancing wellbeing. We still have a lot of work to do, but we’re getting there.
Today, Create Live! launches with a group of young carers in Ealing and Hounslow, who will spend three days writing and recording a new radio play (and playing heaps of drama games, of course) with our actor/playwright, James Baldwin. Next week we’re set to run three 3-day projects (drama, music, photography) in Brighton, Hillingdon and Nottingham. I’m so proud of the Create team, who are working flat out to innovate, find solutions and help our community partners support their clients at a time of extreme need. For our dedicated, talented freelance artists, we are providing high-quality work that both gives them an income and enables them to do what they love: inspire, empower and upskill our participants.
In just two short weeks, we have evolved to become part of the solution to the increased isolation, loneliness and boredom – to say nothing of missed opportunities to be creative – being experienced by our participants, some of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable children and adults in the UK.
There is still a lot of work to be done and the coming weeks and months will be an unprecedented challenge for all. But our work has never been more important.
Please donate now to help us Create Live!