Get Creative is City Arts’ longest running project. It started in 2011 and provides a weekly, therapeutic, pop-up studio space for – at the time of writing – six learning disabled artists. With one-on-one support from a professional workshop leader and our team of volunteers, group members work on their own art projects.
The artists attending pay for this support using their ‘personal budgets’. Personal budgets are allocated to residents by their local council. They help with social care and support needs.
In September 2023, the group mounted an exhibition called ‘Home’. It explored what ‘Home’ means, with each artist using their favoured artistic style to capture their feelings about the theme.
We caught up with four members of the groups to find out what they do at Get Creative and why attending is an important part of their lives. The group members’ names have been changed to protect their anonymity.
Naomi is in her mid-thirties. She has been attending Get Creative for over 5 years, with a break for the COVID-19 lockdowns.
I like coming because it is fun and I learn new things. I’ve made cushions, done painting, created sculptures out of clay, made pencil cases and jewellery. Sometimes we sing Christmas songs! The sculptures were my favourite things to make.
I did some art before attending Get Creative but not as much as I do now. When you’ve got other people around you, you feel more motivated and inspired. Everyone at Get Creative is super-duper lovely! I wish we could have it more than once a week.
The group is led by artist Dominique Cunnington, with support from volunteers Mandy Wilson, Daisy Whiteman-Ley and Mary Parker. For Khloe, aged 35, this fantastic team is one of the main reasons to attend.
I go to Get Creative to see Dom and volunteers. I didn’t do much art before I started coming but I really, really like it here. I’ve done drawing and photography. I’ve made drinks coasters and baby gifts.
The exhibition in City Arts’ Window Gallery was one of the best things we’ve done. I enjoyed everything about that, the whole process.
Aged 54, Kathy is the artist who has attended Get Creative for the longest amount of time.
I really like talking to people while I do my artwork. I enjoy the sessions, they help me to live in the moment. As well as drawing, I’ve experimented with mosaic and painting. I’ve done pictures of birds and a panda! Still life drawing is the thing I’ve most enjoyed.
I didn’t really do much art before attending Get Creative. I was floating in and out of doing things. There isn’t anything I’d change about the sessions, they are great.
At 30 years, Brooke is one of the youngest artists who attends the group.
I absolutely love it here. I learn loads of new stuff. I like talking to the others about work I’ve made outside the group. I’ve made new friends at Get Creative. I’ve done art all my life. Before Get Creative I was doing things like cross stitch and paint by numbers. I like drawing and sewing at the moment. I’ve made a pencil case and a stuffed Orca whale.
For our ‘Home’ exhibition, I made a model of The Golden Phoenix, my favourite Chinese takeaway. My favourite memory of the group is when I invited all my family to the launch of the exhibition. They loved it!
The testimony above shows how important Get Creative is to its weekly attendees. It nourishes the group members creatively and socially. It also inspires them to try new things, pushing their art forwards and showcasing it to new audiences. City Arts is proud to have maintained this nurturing group for over 10 years.