Maryam Rutter, acta Foundation Workshop Assistant, writes about her experience joining the organisation in February 2020.
I began the foundation post of Workshop Assistant as part of Cornerstone back in February, shortly before everything changed. To say that it’s been an interesting time to join the organisation is perhaps an understatement! It’s also been an incredibly inspiring and uplifting experience getting to see how urgently everyone at acta has adapted to the new restrictions in an effort to prioritise the needs of existing participants while protecting them and keeping them safe. I feel very privileged and excited to begin contributing to that work, to start helping our community through these difficult times in a way that only an organisation like acta can.
Throughout the last few months we’ve been working hard to assess the needs of our community, thinking up new ways of how we can best serve them under current circumstances. We know that the people who were vulnerable before lockdown are even more vulnerable now, that despite the fact that restrictions have loosened in recent weeks, the after effects of what has happened need addressing. We are very much hoping to reach people struggling with mental health issues, survivors of domestic abuse, families under strain from the pressures of lockdown, refugees and marginalised individuals suffering from increased isolation. Our aim is to help alleviate some of the difficulties they’ve been facing, to reconnect as a community, to show that through art we can come together even while apart.
Partnerships & Engagement
Since coming off furlough, I have been reaching out to organisations serving these members of our community in the hope of developing partnerships that will contribute to their work. I have also been going door to door in our local communities, talking to people about their experiences through these difficult times, listening to what their needs are and how acta as an organisation can help.
One of our aims is to establish a new group of participants to meet through zoom (until we can resume our normal face-to-face workshops) – to have fun, connect, be creative, and to tell the stories they want to tell.
Not everyone feels comfortable leaping into something like zoom, or even face-to-face workshops. We’re keen to work with those people who would not normally consider something like a drama workshop and to think up other ways to engage them creatively. Depending on need, we’re offering the possibilities of creative writing sessions, story-telling, puppetry, poetry and visual arts. We’re also offering creative care packages, already available to our existing participants, that include creative activities, packs of materials and prompts on things to create, for families as well as more isolated individuals.
One of the things I’ve been hearing from people at their door-step is the need to get out of the house and connect with others face-to-face. It was very pleasing then to be able to share news of our up-coming two day community event on the theme of “Home” on the 26th and 27th August (1 – 4pm), where we will be coming together to celebrate what home means to each of us through arts and crafts, live dramatic performances and some music. There will be lots of opportunities for members of the community to get involved in the planning and performance as well as other opportunities to assist on the day.
For those unable to attend but who would still like to get involved, we are inviting contributions on what home means to them – this can be through photos, art-work, creative writing, poetry and song lyrics. We will then exhibit that work around the event. There will also be two creative making workshops leading up to the event – one for adults starting at 2pm on the 11th August and one for families starting at 2pm on the 18th August.
We’ve also begun planning intensive drama workshops on the subject of ‘Heroes’ for a week in September, for which we’re very excited, for both existing and new participants.
We feel that now more than ever, every person should feel they have access to a place where their opinions and experiences count and are valued by others. If you’re interested in hearing more about what we can offer, please get in touch with me on [email protected].
Hear about our Cornerstone project, which has funded Maryam’s post and is supporting many of acta’s initiatives: here.