Kim Wide describes how Take a Part responded to the rapid changes that happened when Covid-19 hit and what they did to support local communities, already living precarious and stressful lives.
It is really simple to find narratives that back up your approach, your outcomes, your relationships. You can talk about relevance with a lot of lenses on it. Dress it up. But what about care, support, kindness and being human? Those raw and instinctive approaches are what is needed right now in this world. Being human is the best way to be relevant.
Take A Part has been working for a long time with people in their communities where they live. We are an organisation that is about community-led place making, co-creation and co-production. Our approach is to listen to community experts and creatively support them to realise their ambitions. We make art where people live.
We are based in Plymouth but work across the UK and beyond to support integrated approaches to creativity where people have agency over the art they choose to engage with. We use creativity as a means to re-address social injustice and support community cohesion. To amplify places forgotten and advocate for them to have more.
The rapid changes that happened when COVID hit were astounding and continue to deepen. We saw our communities, already living precarious and stressful lives, in a state of grief and worry. People on zero hour contracts having to continue to work at the height of lockdown. Houses with only one smart phone having to navigate online learning for their children. Isolated people stuck in homes in places with poor access to healthy food. Loneliness.
People were cut off. Services were being offered away from the community. Online. In non-analogue ways and it was getting isolating and inaccessible.
So we firstly went to local schools working with frontline worker families and those in receipt of school dinners. Families under stress. Families who needed something to help them cohese and to relieve stress. We partnered with schools to create art packs (with all the basics included) and used them as a way to communicate with communities. The art packs asked families to map their daily socially distanced walks, so you could choose to take a walk someone else does and see the world from their perspective.
Then we commissioned a community magazine written by local residents who are paid for their articles and time. Giving a little employability back when people have lost jobs. Allowing people with little or no access to digital to communicate about their local area better and signpost to services and opportunities too.
We also started to go back to the community to check in. To door knock, to do a beach clean, to share some ideas and find out more about what they need. We invited moments of joy in. Community planting days, photography walks, acoustic performances.
Being there. Doing things. This allowed us to listen better. To see more people and to bring them in.
In this time when everything is precarious, it feels like our work and the work of socially engaged and participatory art has been most relevant and had to alter the least. We were already on the ground with people. We had the relationships. We only had to reach out a little more to ask what people needed and offer it up. This was not about taking 3-4 months to reshape a business plan. This was about responding. Being relevant. CARING.
In life, we have one shot at being human and we need to take that approach every day and in every way.
As the cultural sector moves forward. Being human is going to be the most important approach to ensure relevance, care and ultimately – survival. This is about funding development time, not projects. Investing in people and not outcomes.
FUND TIME NOT OUTCOMES.
FUND IDEAS NOT RESULTS.