Thorne austism charity benefits from £21,000 funding
The Artistic Spectrum, in Thorne, has opened up about the impact of Covid, the importance of community creativity and how £21,540 funding from People’s Health Trust, raised by the Health Lottery Yorkshire and Humber, has made an astronomical difference to students with a range of physical and mental difficulties.
“Our Town” is a two-year project which brings together socially isolated people living in the town of Thorne to take part in twice weekly art classes themed around the town, its people and its surroundings at the Artspace Workshop and Café. Participants take part in creative activities using a range of materials, which are then exhibited in the gallery, creating pride and a sense of achievement.
People will build friendships with others at the classes and make links with the wider community through the exhibitions. A steering group will shape the activities and help develop the project. The “Our Town” project specifically has contributors aged 16 to 64 with a massive range of artistic talents.
Artistic Spectrum was opened in January 2013 by Downton Abbey star Sophie McShera. They are a not for profit organisation which works with primarily adults & children, with autism spectrum disorders. They also work with children and adults with other developmental disorders, physical and mental disabilities. Based at The ArtSpace, their gallery and workshop in Thorne, they offer a welcoming, supportive environment to enable people to discover their creativity.
The group actually managed to turn the Covid pandemic to their advantage, capitalising upon the technical skills of volunteers to engage with people with learning difficulties who previously couldn’t manage to come to an in-person event. The number of amateur artists, sculptors and musicians in their ranks actually swelled during the pandemic thanks to Zoom and the hard work of volunteers delivering materials to artists’ doors.
Emma Wilson, the Project’s Coordinator, said: “Covid has had a massive impact, people with learning difficulties have been forgotten a bit, so it’s good to be able to help them in any way we can to stay creative and sociable.
“Some of our students live in residential care, meaning they’re behind closed doors a lot of the time, and some don’t really understand why. We know them really well and what activities they like, so we try to tailor activities to their individual talents and interests.
“One of the students’ lives miles away. She needs to get two buses and two trains to get to our in-person sessions, setting off at 7am. Although she’s partially sighted and autistic, she has never missed a session. She has been put through an artist’s guild qualification, put on her own exhibitions which is amazing considering she didn’t use to travel herself. It’s stories like hers that drive us.”
A People’s Health Trust supported gallery of work by students will be made available for public in windows in Thorne from April 30 and viewing online from May 21.
Martin Ellice, The Health Lottery MD , said: “The fact that the funding supplied to the project from money raised through Health Lottery Yorkshire and Humber is going onto the materials which will be turned into great works of art, rent for a fantastic open space and the creation of packs which increase social inclusion, really emphasises the importance of local work with communities.