Togetherness is an underlying principle of community arts, which values being with other people as we make theatre, music and art together. The lockdowns and social distancing required by Covid-19 severely disrupted much of this activity, making it vital to find other ways for people – particularly if marginalized or vulnerable – to express themselves through creative contexts. One consequence of Covid-19 was a ‘digital turn’ to various forms of online community arts delivery. Funded by UKRI as part of the rapid response scheme to Covid-19, the Creative Doodle Book project used practice-research, and practitioner and participant interviews, to investigate the impact of this digital turn, focusing in particular on the accessibility and inclusivity of online activities; their impact on wellbeing; and the importance of creative agency during Covid-19.
The Creative Doodle Book is a hands-on resource that uses open and playful tasks to encourage creativity, mindfulness and positive reflectivity. In collaboration with Mind the Gap Theatre Company and access champions Totally Inclusive People the project has been supporting the use of the Doodle Book through online workshops with over 28 community and artistic partners from across the UK. Over this time, we have distributed over 3,500 copies of the Creative Doodle Book and conducted over 100 online workshops. Together we have worked with a diverse range of participants, from children to seniors, from refugees to people with learning disabilities.
The project has given us a remarkable insight into the importance of community arts during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the vital role creativity has in supporting people’s mental wellbeing and their ability to maintain a sense of self and identity. The project has disseminated its emerging findings through blogs, videos, academic papers and presentations, providing evidence of how the active needfor art and creativity particularly during moments of crisis and challenge.
You can find out more about this project from the Mind the Gap website.