Art packs keeping communities active

READY TO DELIVER … Emma Horsman, left and Emma Scarr, Project Co-ordinator, right

MORE than 700 activity packs have been distributed across six Sunderland communities free of charge thanks to an award-winning arts project and support from Sunderland City Council.

The Cultural Spring commissioned six artists to produce 720 activity packs and then worked with a range of community organisations in six council wards to distribute the packs.

Emma Horsman, Project Director of The Cultural Spring, explained: “We’ve been working with artists and creative organisations to create and distribute art activity packs since the first lockdown, but this is the most we’ve delivered in one go.

“Our aim has been to keep people creative during these uncertain times. It’s been proven time and time again that arts activity can be an antidote to anxiety and isolation – and we’ve had some lovely feedback from people telling us how much they’ve enjoyed working on previous packs.”

The latest packs were produced with funding from Sunderland Council’s East Area and West Area Committees’ Community Chest, and have been distributed across Ryhope, Hendon, Doxford, St Michael’s ward and Millfield in the east and Silksworth in the west.

Community organisations who distributed the packs to people they work with included: Blue Watch Youth Group, Ryhope Community Centre, CHANCE, Young Asian Voices, Gentoo, The Box Youth Project, City Life Church and Youth Almighty Project.

“Huge thanks go to the organisations who so generously agreed to distribute our packs, and of course, the local artists who created the packs for us. All of our commissioned artists did an amazing job and I’m sure people all of all ages will have great fun completing the activities. We’d love to see the packs being used, so we’d be grateful if people could tag us in any activity pictures they post on social media,” said Emma.

“Our six artists were Kath Price, Kerry Cook at The Art Room, Fiona Simpson at Art Venturers, Gary Nicholson and colleagues at Regeneration NE, Rebecca McGarvie and her team at The Singing Elf, and Angela Reed at Creative Calligraphy,” she added.

Angela said: “ It has been my absolute pleasure to contribute in some small way to the amazing work of The Cultural Spring, particularly while I can’t hold in-person workshops.”

Gary Nicholson added: “The packs were so much fun to develop and put together. We hope the participants have equal fun exploring the creative possibilities. We certainly look forward to seeing their work.”

Because of Covid restrictions, The Cultural Spring has moved some of its activity online, and last month launched its Online Winter Workshop Programme featuring creative writing, singing and crafts.

These workshops are aimed at people living in Sunderland and South Tyneside, and are run on a pay what you can basis – there are still a few places available on a couple of the course, see details.

The Cultural Spring aims to increase arts participation in areas that don’t have a tradition of arts engagement. It is funded by Arts Council England’s Creative People and Places project and its four partners are the University of Sunderland; the Customs House, South Shields, Sunderland’s Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust and Sangini, a women’s health organisation.