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Art for residents during the pandemic

Posted on 15 December 2020

The Hyde Charitable Trust has funded an innovative art project to bring local residents in Brighton together to unleash their creativity throughout the pandemic.

We joined forces with Phoenix Art Space in Brighton and the Phoenix Community Association to promote community arts to residents on the Phoenix Estate. Together, we launched a partnership project called Up My Street in late 2019, as we wanted to find ways of working together to enable positive change for residents living on the estate and surrounding area. Phoenix Art Space opened their premises to offer a friendly space for families to drop in and explore, play and try something new, even if they’d never been interested in art before.

However, the pandemic meant that it was impossible for them to deliver their original plans and Phoenix Art Space had to shut its doors. The organisers came up with new initiatives so that the Up My Street project could support the changing needs of local residents. As well as supporting the Phoenix Community Centre emergency food hub, the project offered free places for residents to take part in online creative courses, providing local families and adults with free art packs.

Connie Bielsa, Partnerships Manager for Hyde said: “Due to the pandemic, the project has been reshaped. Project organisers, along with residents, changed things quickly and effectively. Organisers set up a food hub with residents and delivered creative art packs to homes during lockdown. Online art courses were then set up, which are a really valuable way for people to take part in something that’s sociable as well as creative.”

The free art packs are created by artists from the project. They range from peg doll activities for families, to packs of materials for adults, which include a sketch book, pens, pencils, water colour paints and brushes. The pack allows adults to take part in the online courses, which include portrait photography, life drawing and water colours for beginners.

Eileen Campbell, who has lived on the Phoenix Estate since 1998, said: “The art project has been fabulous. I don’t consider myself to be very artistic, but the group is really supportive – we chat on Zoom and it has been a great experience.”

Tina March, Treasurer of the Phoenix Community Association and local resident, said: “I think it’s a big help to escape and not think about what’s going on in the world. Art takes you away from where you are and it’s really important for mental health.”

Watch this film to find out more about the Up My Street community engagement project and how it was conceived pre-Covid and then reshaped during the pandemic.