UP MY STREET with Phoenix Art Space & Phoenix Community Association
In December 2019 Phoenix Art Space and Phoenix Community Association embarked on a year-long community engagement project called Up My Street funded by the Hyde Group. We launched the project with a winter celebration event; a fun filled evening of festive entertainment, food and creative activities at the Phoenix Community Centre. Fast forward one extraordinary year and we’re at the end point of a project that looks very different to our original plans.
In March 2020 we had just kicked off a series of free coffee mornings for residents in our café when COVID struck. We had to immediately close our doors and cancel all our public programmes, and many of our neighbours particularly those who are vulnerable were unable to leave their homes. Like many arts organisations we produced a digital programme including a series of online courses for adults in creative subjects such as graphic novels, watercolour and life drawing. Through the Up My Street project we were able to offer free places on these courses to local residents and people who we’d never been in contact with before began learning with us remotely.
However, as everything shifted online, many local residents who did not have easy access to computers and WIFI were becoming left behind. To address this problem, and to continue to engage with local families who were coming to our free, monthly Family Fun workshops, we decided to create a series of art packs. These packs were filled with all the materials and equipment that a family needs to take part in a creative activity from home. They were so well received that we produced three versions of the packs including one for adults and we’re planning a Christmas themed pack this December.
Right at the start of the COVID crisis the Phoenix Community Association set up a food hub in the community centre providing emergency food provision for local people on a weekly basis. Food poverty was a major issue in the area prior to COVID and now the situation is worse than it’s ever been. The food hub is still operating and plans for a community supermarket are underway. The art packs were distributed via the food hub and we will continue to work alongside this type of provision so that our work reaches the people who need it the most. As ever we are thankful to Sarah McCarthy, Amy Lou Tilley and all the members of the Phoenix Community Association who value the role of the arts in everyone’s lives and help us to ensure we address the needs of local people.
‘It’s a big help to be able to escape into something else and not think about what is going on in the world. Art does provide that, art, music, it all helps….it takes you away from where you are to somewhere you’d rather be.’ Tina March, Treasurer, Phoenix Community Association & local resident
You can find out more about the community engagement programme at Phoenix Art Space and watch a documentary film about Up My Street on our website here.