Doncaster communities helped to stay connected through art

A unique project to encourage people to stay connected and creative during these difficult times has been launched in Doncaster.

The Lockdown Affinity, led by James Blakely, a Yorkshire based theatre director who has been working closely with Doncaster community groups over the last two years, brings together an intergenerational group of citizen artists from a range of Doncaster’s communities to stay connected, creative and hopeful during the lockdown and beyond.

Participants meet remotely to share tools for keeping their own artistic practice going from home, develop performance skills and provide each other with inspiration, motivation and feedback. Their projects include poetry, storytelling, costume design, visual art and the development of a new musical. They are looking forward to coming together in physical space to celebrate each other’s work, and hope to be able to share it with others too.

The project has been supported by Right Up Our Street (RUOS) in response to the COVID-19 crisis through funding from the Arts Council and Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council (DMBC).

Lynn Sweeting (72) from Wheatley Hills, is one of the people taking part in the project. She said: “Staying connected with the group members has really kept me feeling positive throughout lockdown. Living alone it's easy to feel isolated and being able to be with other members on zoom feels like belonging. I don’t always understand the things we do but I enjoy it so much and feel it stretches my mind. I have so enjoyed being involved. Who would have thought at 72 I would start writing poetry! I’m not sure what I will do when the project ends.”

The Lockdown Affinity is one of seven projects taking place in Doncaster during June commissioned by Right Up Our Street to ensure that artist work is continuing to engage with people in the town during the lockdown period.

Sally Lockey, creative director of Right Up Our Street said: “It’s been wonderful to see this project come alive and see how the funding provided has allowed James to work with people from across the borough reaching those who are isolated and providing a place for them to be able to express themselves creatively.

“With the ongoing funding from Arts Council England and DMBC, we have been able to programme home grown talent and artists with a track record of working in Doncaster to continue their valuable and much needed work during these times.”

For more information about Right Up Our Street and the projects funded under the recent open call visit www.rightupourstreet.org.uk.