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Contactless Creativity

For the last eight weeks, the Corn Exchange, with the help of 101 Outdoor Arts, have been running Contactless Creativity, an arts and wellbeing outreach project that delivers bags of creative tasks and activities from local artists to isolated, shielding and vulnerable residents across West Berkshire and beyond.

The project offers the opportunity for those who are currently shielding or who do not have access to the internet to keep creative and feel connected at a time when they may be having less frequent contact with their friends and family or are unable to take part in their usual activities or pastimes.

Each week, a different artist (from wire to glass to collage specialisms!) has presented creative activities that have been delivered as a pack to homes by one of our volunteers. The packs have included activity sheets and materials for creative tasks as well as audio messages from the artist that will talk participants step by step through a creative exercise, and a brand new piece of work created by the artist that they can enjoy at home.

One of our artists, Simon Jardine of Armadillo Images, has shared with us his reasons for getting involved:

'The moment I heard about the Contactless Creativity project, I wanted to be involved. With most things that involve human interaction or home visits running in a limited way at the moment, people can feel very isolated, especially those who do not use the internet. Contactless Creativity is a perfect way to enrich people’s lives in this difficult time.

Contactless Creativity allows people to try a new creative activity in their own home every week, with an artist providing them with all the materials and information they need to create their own artistic or written creative works. Participants get an enormous variety of projects to try and can enjoy the relaxation and sense of achievement that creating something imaginative or colourful can bring.

I’m an experienced art workshop leader, but putting art and illustration activities into an easy to follow written and recorded spoken set of steps to follow was a new challenge for me and ultimately very satisfying. I love the thought of my Contactless Creativity pack winging its way to someone's home, entertaining and hopefully inspiring them for a week's worth of artistic enjoyment.

We’ve also been working with the Community Support Hub to recruit vital volunteers who give up their free time to ferry the packs between our buildings and the participants' homes every Wednesday. Our volunteer Claire had this to say about the project:

'It has been lovely to chat to some of the people using Contactless Creativity and to share the excitement of what is in each bag each week- being able to support creative activity in the community is a pleasure!'

Finally, we’ve been asking participants and care homes for their feedback on the project whether that’s via e-mail, social media, letter, postcard, or a recorded audio message. One care home wrote to us that:

They (the residents) have loved the drawing and found the instruction and ideas so easy to follow, they left clutching their sketch books to show everyone how well they did.They especially loved one picture so much that I ended up making more copies for them.It was lovely to see them so engaged in the activity and they all agreed it has been a fun afternoon.

The project is continuing each week until early February so if you, or somebody you know, would be interested in having Contactless Creativity packs delivered to them, please call 01635 582666 or email [email protected]

If you’re a local artist and would like to get involved by creating a pack, please email Hannah Elder, Engagement Manager, at [email protected]

Contactless Creativity has been funded by the Coronavirus Community Support Fund, distributed by The National Lottery Community Fund and the Corn Exchange thanks the Government for making this possible. The Corn Exchange is also working with the Community Support Hub to recruit local volunteers to prepare and deliver the Contactless Creativity Packs. If you are interested in joining as a volunteer please email [email protected] or call 01635 582666.