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Creative Workshops and Family Art Bags with Flourish Group

#DCAmakes

12 October 2020

We've had to adapt a lot over the past few months, from sharing activities online to hosting events via Zoom and then reopening our building and introducing new safety measures. Our Learning team have also been busy changing the way they work to ensure that they were still able to work with different community groups throughout lockdown and beyond. Here's a closer look at how they adapted in order to continue working with Dundee International Womens’ Centre's (DIWC) Flourish group.

"...we were delighted to receive funding from People's Postcode Lottery..."

Earlier this year we shared an animation project we did with the Flourish group and talked about how we were fundraising to build on this experience, so we were delighted to receive funding from People's Postcode Lottery for our Learning team to work with DIWC and Amina Centre Dundee on a ‘creative satellite’ programme; a co-designed project to share and grow art making with a social purpose. The main aims for this work were to reduce isolation, build confidence and skills, meet new people, help with understanding both from and of the wider community, feed back into ‘positive parenting’ and above all “to feel human”. Additional goals for our Learning team included developing our venue and programme to be more of a community resource, to co-design and co-deliver activity in our annual offsite work such as Picnic in the Park and Celebration in the Park in Stobswell and growing more offsite work based in community centres. 

The beginning of the programme involved a 'get to know' making session with the Flourish group and DIWC Family Support Worker, Salma Hanif Gani. These took place at both DCA and at DIWC in February and March and saw the group exploring printing techniques, using different materials and trying book and banner making with Lynne McBride, DCA Learning Coordinator, and freelance artist, Syrah Jay. We also made a trip to Dundee Botanics for further inspiration with the aim of making work for an upcoming Open Weekend at DCA…and that is where we had to stop due to Covid-19.

With both DCA and DIWC closed, staff furloughed and lockdown meaning communication could only take place by phone or Zoom, our Learning team had to get creative in order to continue with the project. The team worked hard to present an online weekly programme of Monday Makes, Activity Sheets and Discovery Shorts throughout lockdown, but questions of digital access meant that these weren't suitable or accessible to everyone. There was also a real desire to continue to offer the Flourish group something tangible and hands on, as a way to continue the work they'd been doing in our previous sessions.

After researching a number of art packs being made and distributed by galleries in England, and seeing how our own Art at the Start PhD student, Vicky Armstrong, had adapted her workshops into ‘art boxes’ for 0-3 year olds and parents (read more here), we decided to make Family Art Bags for DIWC Flourish group parents to test out. Adjusting the project aims to  supporting home learning, encouraging family togetherness, inspiring childrens’ imagination and creativity and maintaining links with DCA, we got to work on a Family Art Bag production line.

Each pack was made up of basic art materials such as pencils, pens, erasers, safe sharpeners, rulers, different kinds of paper, safe scissors, glue, sketchbooks and DCA activity sheets and packaged in tote bags printed with a design by local creative Jen Collins. We delivered 40 Family Art Bags for school age children to Salma in June, along with 40 Art Boxes for 0-3 years from our Art at the Start PhD research programme. Salma then distributed them to DIWC families along with other key supplies.

"The look on the children's faces was a joy that will stay with me." 

"Every family that I delivered the bags to were so grateful and excited. Dads have been getting involved with messy play as well. Not only did these bags have brilliant resources to engage and play through art, in my opinion these bags were filled with, love, care, kindness and respect for children. The look on the children's faces was a joy that will stay with me." -Salma Hanif Gani, Family Support Worker DIWC

Receiving lovely feedback from those who received a Family Art Bag made all the packing and organising worth it:

"My child was so happy, he painted a picture for his granny that he hasn’t seen since lockdown started."

"My daughter said 'mummy is this my lockdown gift, lockdown is awesome'."

"Thank you so much DCA, what a lovely surprise when Salma delivered these bags. Kids were so happy, it was such a blessing, because children have been so bored, and I just didn’t have the money to buy the resources."

"Families are so happy,"

"It is lovely to see the families spending quality time together. One mum said it was like Christmas in their home when the children saw the bags."

Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, so much so that we are working together on a second, follow-up Family Art Bag for the Christmas school holiday, with the addition of activities suggested and designed by DIWC parents. The Flourish group have now re-started their weekly sessions at DIWC with social distancing and other safety measures in place and we're looking forward to joining them to create the next Family Art Bags very soon.

Thank you to the players of People's Postcode Lottery.

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