The importance of community arts...

Kids never fail to amaze me. I'm very lucky to work with them through my DMU Local role at De Montfort Uni, through the work I do at Saturday art clubs and I also have 4 kids of my own, so I pretty much know what I'm talking about when it comes to junior artists, creators, designers, thinkers and makers.

At art clubs I've had homework requests, been questioned over 'who's the best artists around at the moment', and even been asked if I'd come to a school to teach art because 'my art teacher say's I can't draw properly so I should do something else with my time'!?

whoever said that to a kid please see me after class!

Kids surprise me all the time with their enthusiasm, determination and inquisitiveness and I think as an artist and educator its my job to give them all the inspiration I can and the encouragement to follow a creative path. This doesn't necessarily mean I want every young kid to be the next Damien Hirst or Tracey Emin but rather they have the option to become a designer, architect, writer, performer or multi canvas selling bank clerk. It doesn't matter what career they follow as long as they have access to creative practises at an early age. It's so important to give them a grounding in exploring creativity which they can use in whatever way they wish in the future.

This week I delivered a Saturday Morning Art club at Thurnby Lodge Community Centre with 25 local kids. This estate is sometimes referred to as the 'forgotten estate' so any community based support is massively appreciated, a point proven by the amount of kids, parents and carers who came along to get involved.

By 10.15 the place was packed with smiling faces, busy kids, chatting parents and the smell of paint and glue. Our mission was to re-create Van Gogh's Sunflowers by making a sunflower each and attaching them to a large canvas I'd stretched the night before. I also wanted to take this opportunity to hand out info sheets which gave details on the artists life, his works and some homework which involved finding out about other artists that worked in the same style as Van Gogh and directions of how to make a new piece of work which relates directly to an academic subject.

by 11.30 we were ready to glue the flowers onto the canvas, finish the work and carry out the mammoth task of cleaning the room which, as you can imagine, now resembled an earth quake in an art shop.

Fun was had, friends were made and something beautiful was created. i don't care about the mess!

You see my point is: community arts projects are hugely important, simple fact. They create an environment which offers a safe place to explore creativity, a place where families can talk and relax, a place where community spirit is born and allowed to grow, strengthening a feeling of belonging amongst community members and spreading a feeling of inclusion.

Kids gain confidence and develop social skills whilst learning in a fun way. They talk to each other, share their work and stand proud at the end of the session to show the treasures they've created.

There's no right or wrong art at these cubs, everyone can draw in their own style, Everyone's an artist.

And you never know, one of this lot might just go on to win the Turner Prize one day... Watch this space!

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