Taking pART

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‘Taking pART’ was a pilot Arts & Health partnership project by artsNK and Transported and was delivered as a programme of free visual arts activities from January – July 2016 in Boston and Spalding, Lincolnshire. The project activities were funded by the Mental Health Promotion Fund through the Managed Care Network and Transported.

Led by experienced artists the workshops were accessible to all members of the community with a special emphasis to integrate those experiencing mild to moderate mental health issues. The activities were designed to develop new skills, build lasting relationships and encourage mutual support in a welcoming and inclusive environment.

6 visual arts activities lasting 4 weeks each were delivered in weekly 2-hour sessions and dovetailed between both locations, taking place in the public libraries of Boston and Spalding.

Description of the arts activity

A range of visual arts activites were offered.  Groups were a maximum of 12 participants who signed up to each 4 week activity although many signed up to more than one.
YOU CAN FIND ME RIGHT HERE!  -Exploring locations by the use of maps
Trace the steps you take, return to the places you love and revisit your favourite locations. Book sculptor and paper artist Phiona Richards, will show you how to cut, fold and stitch exciting mini books as a way of exploring locations - using maps, old magazines and decorative papers and maybe a few threads to find your way back.

Phiona Richards, book sculptor and paper artist, will share with you some of the secrets of art journaling. You will have the option of using an old and tired book or a brand new sketchbook. You will be shown how to use paint, ink, masking tape, collage, drawing, writing, doodling to create very personal pages for your very own journal.

Graphics, Art & Design artist Amber Smith will explore a range of visual arts workshops including observational drawing, collage, mixed media and sculpture. The sessions are developed for complete beginners and will allow participants to enjoy exploring the creative process whilst gaining skills and confidence.

In a world awash with motivation quotes join socially engaged artist Katie Smith to unleash your own wisdom. Over the course of four weeks you will work as part of a group to share the words and phrases that motivate you to do great things or just get through each day. Sessions will include collage and stitch; the only thing you need to bring with you is an open mind.

Using your own selection of images of historical buildings and local landmarks, textile designer Sue Rowland will help you create your own piece of silk painting. Learn how to develop design and pattern, outline on silk and explore this relaxing, vibrant painting technique.

Textile artist Sue Rowland will help you create beautiful, woven landscapes based on our surrounding countryside. We will use different yarns and techniques, looking at colour and texture to achieve a tactile piece of work on a card loom. Bring along your own picture of a favourite local walk or countryside scene to work from, or use the provided photos as a starting point.

Details of the project participants

All workshops were free, materials provided and open to adults (16+) with a ratio of 2:1 for people who experience Mental Health issues. The activities were publicly advertised on local media, through the libraries and through our websites and social media as well as targeted through local Health & Wellbeing Networks, Managed Care Network, local GP surgeries and Mental Health Support organisations and meeting places. Booking was essential and only possible through the project coordinator to ensure confidentiality.

Project management

Project Co-ordinator: responsible for recruitment, communication, workshop and events planning and coordination, marketing & publicity liaison, contracting, bookings, reporting, attending meetings and network events. All sessions were supported by an Arts& Health assistant who was responsible for data recording and input.
Artists were selected through application and taster workshop/interview by a panel of arts & mental health professionals with a special emphasis on their delivery approach and quality of art practice. Safeguarding, Incident, Complaints policies and DBS checks were essential.

Evaluation methods and findings

Taking pART was evaluated using Social Return on Investment methodology covering the wider impact of all stakeholders and through observation and evaluation forms based on the WEMWBS scale to monitor and record the mental wellbeing of participants, performed at the beginning and at the end of the 4-week activity plus a short version at the beginning and the end at each workshop.  The evaluation covered the following areas:

  • Understanding of local Health & Wellbeing sector to enable targeted recruiting
  • Accessible and inspiring arts activities to engage with people and provide
  • Increase of skills, confidence and aspirations has led in one known case to employment
  • Selection of professional artists to enable an enjoyable, comfortable, knowledgeable, flexible and supportive learning environment that leads towards high quality outcomes and personal achievements without pressure.
  • Group working over a period of time led to the building of rapport and new relationships, offering mutual support. One participant reported not leaving the house before.
  • Regular meeting times helps people who experience mental health issues to structure their week. Two participants reported that Taking pART was the only thing in their lives they looked forward to.
  • Working with an integrated group of people who experience mental health issues and those who don’t helps to break down pre-perceptions and has increased awareness. (2 people have disclosed their mental health problems after a period of attendance)
  • Empathic support from project management during the whole project including sign posting to other activities, opportunities and networks

All gathered data is processed anonymously. We are expecting the final report in October 2016.
Taking pART attracted a total of 43 participants of which many returned to follow up activities.
At the end of the project 6 participants in Boston and 9 in Spalding are intending to continue meeting up at the same location/day/time which the libraries offered for free.

Supported using public funding by the Arts Council England