When Covid landed last year, like most people, we didn’t know what hit us. Our whole approach up until that point had been working with people together, in rooms, to perform theatre, run workshops or creative events.
However, within a few weeks it became clear we needed to respond by working in new way, reimagining some of our most popular work to deliver online. Our plans for live theatre in the short term were paused, and we put all our efforts into finding new ways in which to support and enrich the lives of our local communities in these challenging times.
Since then, with the ongoing support of Merton Council and Marcus Beale Architects, and with project and emergency support from Wimbledon Foundation, Arts Council England, Jack Petchey Foundation, Clarion Housing, we’ve grown our online work and developed new projects with partners in both our home and neighbouring boroughs, continuing our mission to give everyone an opportunity to access and enjoy the benefits of taking part in group creative activities.
- We moved our weekly provision online to support health and wellbeing across the borough. This included our singing group for over 40 older people; our dance group for dementia sufferers and their carers, in partnership with the Merton Dementia Hub; and our free Creative Arts Group (in partnership with Shine Mitcham) where over 20 young people from the east of Merton have space to play, share and express themselves.
- We produced and developed new artistic commissions. This included a short poetry film with poet local Black poet Jeremiah ‘SugarJ’ Brown distributed online, with Merton Libraries, and watched over 3500 times online, as well as a new shows for production in 2021. The poem can be watched here.
- We created free online opportunities for young people in school holidays including a filmmaking summer school online to prepare young people for the return to school and an online holiday project with charity Jigsaw 4U.
- We developed new projects to support over 40 young people’s wellbeing, with partners including Merton Young Carers, a new adult health project with Avanti CIC in Pollards Hill, and an employability programme.
- We continued successful local partnerships. This included live delivery of Many Voices drama workshops with over 25 EAL students at St Marks Academy Mitcham from Sept and partnering with Clarion Housing, exploring ways to create social connections between isolated older people.
We’re now looking forward with tentative hope to a time in the not too distant future when we might be able to welcome you back as audience or participants, but in the meantime, do have a look at our what’s on page and get in touch if you’d like to join in.