Blog by Helen Willmott, Programme Director.
A couple of weeks ago we hosted two online conversations with local artists, to discuss the current situation, the impact on their work and how we can help them. The majority of artists who deliver our programme are self-employed, and have been hit hard financially by COVID-19. They have had lots of work cancelled with their normal groups unable to meet and, like many of us, are having to adapt to working in different ways.
We’ve heard of lots of examples of artists working in brilliantly innovative ways, from delivering creativity packs and making phone calls to online video calls and video tutorials. It’s obvious that people still want to be creative, even as lockdown eases, but this raises a few challenges for how artists work with local communities.
Like many other people, the artists we work with are missing that sense of connection. They’re used to working with groups of people, big and small, in libraries, community centres and other venues across Corby and Wellingborough. And whilst it’s brilliant, online video calling isn’t quite the same as seeing someone in person and working alongside them.
There’s also the new challenge ahead around how we adapt workshops to be safe, including social distancing and enhanced hygiene measures as well as making sure that participants (and artists) who are continuing to shield can still be involved. It’s going to be a difficult balance over the coming months, as some people are enthusiastic about joining activities outside their homes whilst others are most anxious about it.
We don’t have any answers at the minute, and there’s going to be loads of trial and error ahead, but we’re committing to continue the discussion with anyone who runs creative activities locally.
Through our Cultivate programme, we’re hosting a series of online conversations about these topics over August and September. There’s also the chance to book an individual meeting with one of the team to discuss specific ideas and challenges. And lastly, our Cultivate Seed programme in Wellingborough is offering financial support to artists and groups across the borough.