We are delighted to launch our new Creative Community Recovery Programme, a series of free community activities focusing on using creative participation to support better mental health and emotional wellbeing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A strong commitment to local communities sits firmly at the heart of Norwich Theatre’s charitable mission and organisational values. Prior to lockdown our award-winning Take Part programme worked with more than 10,000 participants each year through a wide range of partnerships with schools, community groups and other charitable organisations. This new programme sees us adapt and re-invent this programme specifically to meet the needs of the local community in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The overall aim of the Creative Community Recovery Programme is to harness the power of creativity to address the disconnection and isolation that so many individuals, particularly those most impacted by the pandemic, are continuing to experience. Reaching far and wide across Norwich and Norfolk, the 10-month programme is made up of an eclectic mix of participatory activities in a variety of art forms. The programme’s first batch of activities which are announced today are all designed in strict adherence with current guidelines and to be deliverable irrespective of any potential future changes to restrictions.
The programme has two main strands. The first focuses upon the engagement of older adults who have found themselves particularly isolated because of COVID-19. Working in collaboration with care homes and partner organisations such as Age UK, activities will be offered initially remotely via telephone, post or online. These will include dance, poetry, acting, singing and crafts in which people can actively participate from the comfort of their own homes. Over time and when it is safe to do so, this will hopefully lead to small group activities in-person at venues such as care homes or libraries, as well as in Norwich Theatre’s own venues once they reopen.
The second strand focuses on supporting children who have increased vulnerability in returning to education and for whom the pandemic has been a particularly traumatic experience. For some of the children taking part in this strand of the programme this will have been due to being in lockdown in an unstable or volatile home environment and for some this trauma will have been triggered by loss and grief as a result of the pandemic. Working alongside schools in the city, our specialist team will tailor a package of drama based activities supporting children to create, hear and share their own stories, re-engaging with a love of learning, whilst exploring their own emotional wellbeing.
The Creative Community Recovery Programme has been made possible thanks to the generosity of individual donations through our Coronavirus Crisis Appeal and specific grants from Anguish’s Educational Foundation, the Norfolk Community Foundation and Norwich Freemen’s Charity.
To mark the launch of the Creative Community Recovery Programme, we are also delighted to share Side by Side, a digital performance project undertaken during lockdown. Produced by Norwich Theatre in partnership with The Come and Sing Company, this digital tapestry of work includes performances from Echo Youth Theatre, The African Choir, Alderman Peel High School, Michala Jane School of Dance, Central School of Dance, The Common Lot and Sound Ideas. The film is a touching tribute to the enduring and resilient power of creativity during the difficult days of lockdown and is now available to view at norwichtheatre.org.
Stephen Crocker, Chief Executive of Norwich Theatre, said: “Over recent months much focus has been given to the role of theatres in staging live performance and this is something we work every day to try to restore. However, equally important to us at Norwich Theatre is the work that we do away from our stages and I am more passionately committed than ever before to the transformative power that creativity can have within communities as we continue to battle against COVID-19. As our stages remain dark for now, the launch of this new programme is a way to demonstrate that our commitment to this work, and supporting the emotional and mental wellbeing of the communities we serve, burns brighter than ever before.”
Wendy Ellis, Learning and Participation Director at Norwich Theatre, said: “We miss our audiences and participants and cannot wait to welcome them all back when it is safe to do so. There are many people across the world who have, and are still suffering from this pandemic. Our heart goes out to them all. In this interim period we are absolutely determined to do everything that we can to support our local communities, especially those who are facing the future with fear and anxiety due to loneliness.”
The Creative Community Recovery Programme is the next instalment in our During the Interval programme, a series of truly unique and different events and interventions bridging the gap between closing our doors in March until our venues are able to properly re-open again.
Click here to find out more about the activities included in the programme.