Features / Arts

The arts organisations bringing light into children’s lives during lockdown

By ellie pipe, Tuesday May 19, 2020

Creativity and imagination are more important than ever to the wellbeing of children, say the people leading efforts to bring arts into communities.

While a wealth of innovative ideas to support families have become available online since lockdown measures were introduced, those unable to access such resources are at risk of missing out.

Following a Bristol24/7 article highlighting concerns that children in Barton Hill are getting left behind during the pandemic, Travelling Light Theatre company contacted Samira Musse, the co-founder of Barton Hill Activity Club to see how they could help support families.

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The company, which is based in Barton Hill, has collaborated with the Wellspring Settlement to distribute 120 activity boxes and is also now working with Samira, preparing packs to go out to families that most need support.

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Read more: Fighting to ensure children in Barton Hill don’t get left behind

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‘‘Our local families are particularly impacted by social distancing, many living in high rise flats with little space to play. During this difficult time of isolation and social distancing, creativity and imagination are more important than ever to the wellbeing of children and their families,” says Heidi Vaughan of Travelling Light.

The Travelling Light team reached out to Samira following an article in Bristol24/7 – photo courtesy of Travelling Light

This is one example of how arts organisations across the city have been supporting children and families.

In south Bristol, Brave Bold Drama have created a Company of Indoor Artists(C.I.A). They are working in partnership with Merchants’ Academy in Withywood to support children between the ages of eight and 12 who are in receipt of free school meals to enjoy being creative at home during lockdown.

Many of these children are living in flats with limited access to green space right on the edge of the city.

Gill Simmons, from the Withywood-based company, says: “We have designed a range of creative activities including visual art, music and creative writing which children can complete at home.

“We deliver boxes of creative resources to Merchants’ Academy every fortnight, which families collect and complete at home. To add a little theatricality to the mix, we make ‘How To’ films to go with each mission as our alter egos Agent Dali and Agent Kahlo of the C.I.A.”

Meanwhile, in east Bristol the team at Studio Meraki in Barton Hill have stepped up to support and inspire children in Easton with the creation and distribution of art kits to families who might be finding life particularly difficult to navigate during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The kits are designed by local artists and Studio Meraki is working with local organisations that are delivering essential support to distribute them out to 200 families every week for ten weeks.

Art packs are being distributed along with essential supplies – photo courtesy of Studio Meraki

During national Creativity and Wellbeing Week, Bristol City Council’s arts development team is working with Bristol24/7 to share highlights of work being done in the city.

“The vision is to make arts and culture accessible for all and connect people through culture,” explains Elise Hurcombe, senior arts development officer at Bristol City Council.

“We are inspired by how Bristol arts organisations and creatives have responded to the crisis to ensure that everyone is able to access and participate in the arts and cultural life of the city, no matter who they are, where they are from nor what their background.”

Main photo of Brave Bold Drama taken prior to lockdown – courtesy of Brave Bold Drama

Read more: The importance of creativity and wellbeing during lockdown 

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