We are sharing a number of case studies from our charity partners who are part of the Creative Communities programme. Based in the North West, Create Inspire Projects CIC provides creative and participatory film, singing and theatre arts workshops for remote communities in the North West of Scotland. This particular project commenced in March 2021.
Create Inspire is one of the ten “development” organisations in the portfolio. These organisations receive coaching and support from a dedicated Creative Communities facilitator and up to £2,000 in funding. The aim is to build capacity in small organisations serving communities facing barriers to engagement with the arts. Create Inspire was founded by Sot Otter to provide creative workshops in rural locations such in the North West of Scotland. The idea is that participatory travelling workshops centered on theatre, film making, musical theatre and singing will provide opportunities for people of all ages, especially young people, in remote communities near Ullapool to get involved with the performing arts.
When the Creative Communities Programme started Sot focused on developing a pilot workshop kicking off with researching one specific location (Garve), completing market research to find out the needs of that specific community and any potential barriers to participation, and designing what the pilot would look like. As COVID-19 continued to affect the UK and more lockdowns were put in place and because the pilot would require face to face contact, Sot requested that she pivot her plan to work on something online which would have a more immediate impact. The Creative Communities seed money enabled Sot to employ a local sound and visual editor, who supported her to design and develop an online choir piece for Ullapool Community Choir. She combined this with a speakeasy-style online event, amplifying the talents of 40 community musicians and creating a community focused cultural event.
Now that restrictions are lifting and the choir project is complete Sot is using the rest of her time and seed funding to develop the original outreach pilot project. She has been an invaluable addition to the portfolio providing guidance to other organisations on the subject of CIC creation, offering creative ideas and being a general cheerleader during portfolio sessions.
Quotes from choir participants highlight the impact of the project:
“I enjoyed watching it as well as being able to take part. Just having to produce a song got my musical juices going again after a lay-off occasioned by not having anywhere to play in public. There seemed to be no incentive, but now I’m all fired up again.”
“Being able to sing ‘together’ was brilliant and I would definitely be up for doing it again. I think now everyone can see that individual voices blend together, that should hopefully help with confidence levels and maybe even more choir members will take part if there is another one.”
Feedback from Sot Otter about being a Creative Communities Programme development organisation:
“Being a small grassroots type organisation that relies heavily on interaction with the community, the pandemic has been catastrophic for us, and those community members that we serve, and whilst the small amounts of funding we have secured have been really vital for our survival, it has been the practical support from your organisation that has really made the difference. On a personal level, I have found the one-to-one mentoring and the group Zoom networking meetings to be nothing short of a lifeline. At a time when it was becoming more difficult to keep enthusiasm and positivity going, the feeling that an organisation believes in what we do enough to give this support has made all the difference!”
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