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The latest stories from Inspiring Scotland and our partner charities.

Showcase demonstrates the power and potential of creativity in Scotland’s communities 

A showcase of projects involved in the Creative Communities Programme took place Thursday 19th May in Glasgow, creating a powerful and diverse exhibition. 

The showcase aimed to demonstrate how individual communities, facing barriers to engaging in culture, have formed their own unique creative activities: developing their own connection to culture and improved their wellbeing and resilience. 

As well as the exhibition, the event also explored, through discussion and workshops, the way participatory art enables people and communities to express and explore their wellbeing and creativity in a way they may not have realised.  

Addressing the showcase was public artist and founder of The Stove Network, Matt Baker who said:

“Taking an active part in making culture, as participants, gives us so much more than the satisfaction of self-expression and making something to show to others. It creates new connections in communities, new stories and knowledge that bind people together in deep ways that combat the isolation and anxiety that plagues our society and leads to breakdowns in people, families and the fabric of community that should support us all.” 

 “Research study after research study has shown active participation in creativity leads to happier people and places. And yet we have all grown up with the idea that culture is not made by the likes of us, it is made by special people and our role is to admire it, not be part of making it. Programmes like Creative Communities give us a glimpse into another possible world. A world where it is completely normal for everyone to be creative and be part of making the culture of Scotland.”

Rose Filippi, project lead from Maryhill Integration Centre whose project supported refugees and asylum seekers in Glasgow said of the exhibition:  

“The artwork here shows all the different emotions and experiences that people went through during the lockdown and how that has exploded the link between creativity and wellbeing and that’s really, really important.” 

 One of the projects from Kirkintilloch, Creative Spark Theatre Arts exhibited a photography display: ‘Faces of Lockdown’ and a mounted box art installation. Their project explored what lockdown has meant for Kirkintilloch’s community through music, theatre, visual art and filmmaking, culminating in a community festival. The project gave participants much needed connection that was lost throughout the pandemic, and inspiring and creative opportunities for peer support and improved mental wellbeing.

Jennifer McDonald, Principal Tutor, Creative Spark Theatre Arts said: “Our Kirkintilloch in Lockdown project was so needed within our community as connections has been lost due to the pandemic. It gave everyone the chance to explore their thoughts and feelings creatively and then come together in a much needed cultural event. We are so proud of this project as it brought together so many people and gave that much needed creative connection.”

Another project by PAMIS which supports children, young people and adults with profound and multiple learning disabilities and their families supported young people to pursue art, music and drama without travelling long distances. The follow up project, in Angus, focused on multi-sensory story telling for younger children.

Maureen Philip, PAMIS Inclusion Director said: “Both the Aberfeldy and Angus programmes clearly demonstrate the benefits of having a programme led by families as experts by experience. They know the children and young people they support. They understand how much it means for them to feel part of their communities and they’ve clearly demonstrated that creative communities led in this way provide what these children and young people need for now and in the future.” 

Another project, Youth Connections, based in one of the most deprived areas of Inverclyde, showcased their book covers from ‘A Book Never Written’ and their ukulele group, The Skelpies, sang and played songs they had written about Larkfield. 

Alex Stevens CEO of Youth Connections said: “ ‘Power to Change’ funded by Creative Communities has provided the residents of Larkfield with free access to an arts programme led by local artists which has inspired both residents and local organisations to come together to regenerate their outdoor space. We are delighted with the feedback from local participants who have stated the project gave them a lifeline through lockdown and now brings people together to have some essential fun. 

A project participant from Youth Connections and The Skelpies ukulele group said: “I’m really pleased with what I’ve done. I didn’t think I could do that sort of thing so I’m quite pleased with myself.” 

£2m has been invested by the Scottish Government in the programme with the overall objective of improving people’s wellbeing through engaging in culture and creative activity. 

Creative Communities has supported nearly 5,000 people through three phases by funding and supporting 46 organisations across 21 local authorities in Scotland – all in communities where social or geographical circumstances make engaging with cultural activities more challenging. 

Find out more about Creative Communities programme 

Read Matt Baker’s guest blog on creative communities

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