This week BCA has headed up a dream team of volunteers to construct and deliver 1500 packs of art materials to children in Bedford, Central Bedfordshire and Luton, in collaboration with Bedford Borough Council, Central Bedfordshire Council, Bedfordshire Libraries and the University of Bedfordshire.
Funded by Arts Council England and facilitated by The Royal Opera House Bridge, these ‘Let’s Create’ packs contain a range of fun and creative items for families who may not have art resources at home during the pandemic, plus an activity sheet from Arts Council England devised by art teacher Andria Zafirakou (Global Teacher of the Year 2018).
The Bedford and Central Bedfordshire packs also include activity worksheets created by local artist educators Katie Allen and Amanda Silk, commissioned by The Culture Challenge.
“We could not let this generous offer from Arts Council England and The Royal Opera House Bridge pass us by,” says Kayte Judge, Cultural Education Producer at BCA. “With many children at home for extended periods we know that art resources will help families provide positive activities as we move into the summer, so we had to make this happen here and we are pleased to have had the partnerships in place to have let us do so”.
With COVID-19 causing many organisations to operate on reduced workforce and most venues being closed, the packing operation has become a community affair. Father Paul Messam offered the use of Elstow Abbey as a packing venue and a team of 16 volunteers have come forward to help. With three pallet loads of materials, this is no small task!
The packs will be distributed to families via schools and to charities that serve underprivileged communities who can benefit from these packs: Priory Primary school, Kings Oak School, Livingstone School, Dunstable Ickneild School, Houghton Regis Primary school, Looked After Children Service in Central Bedfordshire, One Housing housing association, The Level Trust and NGYT.
Alongside the ‘Let’s Create’ packs, the volunteer team has made up a second wave of art packs for BCA’s ‘Take Part Queens Park’ project – these packs are developed by artists Andy Holden, Mira Calix and Caroline Wendling, and are being distributed to schools in Queens Park, as part of an ongoing project working with communities in the Queens Park area. Sarah Evans, Take Part Queens Park Producer said of the activity: “Take Part Queens Park is an ongoing art project in Queens Park Bedford working with local artists and the community to make artwork inspired by the area. We started the art pack project in Queens Park in June in response to the Coronavirus lockdown, and they have already proved to be popular with children from Queens Park Academy. Packing with the volunteers at Elstow Abbey has meant we can reach out to more schools in the area with more packs this time. We’re really looking forward to seeing the art works the children produce with them.”
With these packs included, the total number of local families supplied with art resources and activities will be over 1700.