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Funding keeps communities creative during lockdown

Published May 22, 2020 9.42am


An arts group has received a partnership grant to help it provide enriching activities to residents in Crook, Willington, Tow Law and surrounding villages during the coronavirus lockdown.

Jack Drum Arts activity packs

Ruby, Robert and William, ages 9, 6 and 9, from Hunwick, with their activity packs

Our 3 Towns Partnership awarded over £13,000 to Jack Drum Arts, to cover their monthly overheads for the next three months, to run creative online classes and to deliver arts and crafts activity packs to families in need.

The group is just one of several organisations across the 3 Towns area to have received a monetary boost to support their business during the pandemic. We have given £1.4 million of coronavirus Financial Assistance Funding to our 14 Area Action Partnerships (AAPs), for them to allocate to projects in their respective areas who need support during the pandemic.

Online courses and art packs

The funding allocated to Jack Drum Arts will allow the group to build on the success of its recent pilot of online courses and its Easter arts and crafts activity packs initiative, enabling the two schemes to be rolled out on a larger scale.

Packs of arts materials and instructions for craft activities will be provided free to any child or young person aged 6 and over, living in the 3 Towns area, whose family are in receipt of benefits or at a cost of £12 per pack per child for families not experiencing financial hardship.

For children under 5, they are delivering a beautiful story-book written and illustrated by local artist Jillian Johnstone alongside a specially created themed activity, and young people aged 14 and over will receive a personalised journal pack. The packs and books will be delivered to doorsteps by a team of DBS checked volunteers, in line with social distancing guidelines.

The grant will also enable Jack Drum Arts to commission a further 10 weeks of online courses aimed at children, adults, families, older and vulnerable people, with artists hosting virtual sessions including singing, dancing and music technology.

Enriching activities and feeling connected

Helen Ward, managing director of Jack Drum Arts, said: "It's fantastic for us to receive this support from the 3 Towns Partnership. The grant means that we will be able to provide services to more people in the area, helping local children, young people and adults to access our arts initiatives, doing our bit to support our community in these difficult times. The enriching activities are all focussed on local needs and give people something to get involved with and a way to feel connected through lockdown. We have had requests for another 188 activity packs already."

Sandy Denney, AAP coordinator for the 3 Towns Partnership, said: "Engaging in imaginative activities is a great outlet for people to express themselves and stay socially connected during lockdown. We're pleased to be able to support Jack Drum Arts to provide these opportunities for our community. 

"Creative activities have been proven to reduce stress and anxiety, to increase people's self-esteem and to support positive mental health, and the feedback from people who have used the online sessions and craft packs already has been hugely positive."

Doorstep storytelling

Jack Drum Arts' latest unique initiative has also been funded by the 3 Towns Partnership, from its holiday activities funding pot. During next week's May half-term, the group will perform Doorstep Gigs.

The free storytelling performances will be delivered by two costumed actors and storytellers, straight to the doorstep of children, with priority being given to low-income families, those supporting a shielded individual and children of key workers.

All the fun will happen from a safe distance, in line with social distancing guidance, with audiences able to watch the recitals, which feature live music, from their window or doorstep.

A selection of traditional and contemporary stories were available to book, including stories such as The Three Billy Goats Gruff and The Giraffe that Can't Dance, with performances between 10am and 4pm in Tow Law area on Tuesday 26 May, in Willington area on Thursday 28 May and in Crook area on Friday 29 May.

Places have already proven popular with all available slots now booked out. 

More information about the creative packs and sessions can be found on the Jack Drum Arts website.

3 Towns Partnership is one of 14 area action partnerships working with communities to identify local priorities and implement actions required to tackle them. Find out more on the 3 Towns Partnership - Crook, Willington and Tow Law web page.

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