What a time this is for us all.
Working away from each other has been such a change for everyone at Create. Our programme and the practices of the artists we work with are inherently social.We depend on togetherness and person-to-person connections – things which are all so suddenly absent. For us, work usually takes place on housing estates, in parks, playgrounds, factories, former farmhouses, potteries, libraries and workshops. The impossibility of being able to come together is felt not just by our team and the artists we work with, but by the many community members we support and collaborate with.
We are, like everyone else, learning and adapting. For us, this means finding new ways of connecting with artists and communities, embedding participatory and collaborative approaches into remote and digital working, and finding ways to continue that seem relevant and make sense. However, we know it’s not as simple as carrying on as usual or moving everything online. We are committed to supporting and paying artists to make work in this period and we know that art can continue to bring a sense of possibility and comfort.
For now, we have closed The White House, Open Access at Rabbits Road Press is on hold, our programmes in Park Royal and Waltham Forest have paused and we’ve stopped making pots with young people at Hoxton Gardenware.
The projects we’ve commissioned and supported over the years have their own challenges too. Baltic Street Adventure Playground is closed and we can’t help feeling sad for the many children and parents who have come to rely on that special place. Blackhorse Workshop is closed for now and the sounds of drilling, cutting and sanding have fallen silent. Associates at Open School East will see their year of learning in Margate extended and this year’s Walthamstow Garden Party won’t be happening.
We look to our collaborators and the wider Create community for inspiration. Company Drinks are doing an amazing job staying in touch with the many residents they work with in Barking and have produced great resources for safe outdoor activities. The commitment to overcome what we’re going through and to support people has been so clearly expressed by our communities, artists, partners, collaborators and other organisations, and makes us hopeful and proud to work with such imaginative, dedicated and resilient people.
For now, we’re focussed on staying in touch with the members of our local communities for whom many this is a particularly difficult and lonely time. Some don’t have access or experience of using computers, others live in especially difficult housing situations and we’re on the phone and using the postal service to stay connected, providing support where we can.
We are lucky to have projects and a programme that can continue during this time and we will be sharing more about these over the coming weeks. Next week, terracotta pots, fired just before lockdown and made by young people at Hoxton Gardenware will go on sale – the launch event and sales in local shops won’t happen for now, but we will be celebrating the achievements of these young people by selling online and delivering locally. Money made through the sale of the pots will go to all the talented people involved in this brilliant project.
Over the coming months, like so many others, we will be working reduced hours and adapting in order to survive. It is essential we protect our cultural and social infrastructure as much as possible through this crisis. It will be instrumental in bringing people and communities back together – to help rebuild on the other side of isolation.
We’ve got new programmes in Dagenham, Paisley, Brent and Park Royal planned for theAutumn and into next year and it’s this, and the certainty of being able to come together and make a positive contribution on the other side of this, that keeps us all going for now.
We hope you, your families, friends and colleagues are well and staying safe.
Hadrian Garrard, Director