Across the country, volunteers have been making an exceptional contribution to supporting local communities and those in need. National Volunteers’ week is the perfect opportunity to recognise their selfless achievements. We want to say a huge, heartfelt ‘thanks’ to our volunteers too!
At Venture Arts we’ve always been extremely proud of the energy, commitment and warmth that our volunteers bring. We’d like to tell you about the incredible work they do to support our participants, and the impact they’re having during the Covid-19 lockdown.
We currently have a team of 34 volunteers, and throughout the year we work with an average of 100! Many are students on art, social care, psychology or nursing courses. Some come to gain career development experience; others to have fun, increase wellbeing and give something back to their community. Some are with us for the 10 week minimum commitment and others are still with us 12 years on!
Ordinarily, most of our volunteers assist the workshop tutors and offer hands on support and positive encouragement to our participants in our lively and productive arts studio. During the pandemic and its temporary closure, every volunteer has been in touch with good wishes, and many have offered support, despite their own personal uncertainties.
“Our volunteers have expressed how they feel part of the Venture Arts family and how they have missed seeing the artists, and this relationship really is mutual. Our entire team of staff and participants hold our volunteers in the highest regard, knowing that it’s through their continual support everyone is able to reach their full potential.” Laura Nathan, Volunteer Coordinator
The new dynamics of delivering workshops remotely, and not in the studio, has created what has turned out to be a wonderful challenge. Several of our volunteers were keen to be involved and their contribution has been immense; helping to inspire the participants and create a welcoming and fun online environment. There are so many lovely examples of how they have given their creative and technical skills, and their enthusiasm. Here are just a few:
One of our artists, Horace, loves weddings. Knowing this, Alison Ellis showed him keepsakes from her wedding and brought a huge smile to his face. “I know the internet is no substitute for the warm and stimulating environment at Venture Arts, but it is spirit-lifting seeing and engaging with people from this special place, and in particular sharing a smile with Horace and Laura.”
Samantha Taylor (volunteer since 2017) used her graphic design skills to work alongside Rahima and Michael to collate their artwork and information and develop an online virtual tour of the Royal Exchange Theatre as part of the Cultural Enrichment Programme. Rahima and Michael were thrilled with the results! Take the tour here.
Ric Jones (volunteer since 2016) expertly edited a home video of Florence creating her embroidery. ‘A stitch in unusual times’ is a wonderful representation of art being made during lockdown. You can view the video here (featured music: ‘A Day to Remember’ from Bensound.com).
Stephanie Nash is currently assisting us in researching environmental and sustainability policies. Fiona Gilliland, Sara Peacock and Alison Ellis have created drawings and suggested project ideas to inspire participants’ artwork.
Talented musician Ruby Foran Parkinson and her band offered to host a sing-along within weeks of lockdown. A first for all of us, it kick-started the involvement of our volunteers and helped demonstrate the potential of Zoom for bringing people together socially. Everyone loved it and our lockdown social programme (expanded to include virtual discos, football, yoga and more) was born!
And not forgetting the contribution of all our Board members…
Our Board of Trustees are also voluntary and bring a wealth of experience from across the arts, health, legal and business sectors to help guide the organisation. Since the lockdown began, they have given us much more of their time, meeting every week with members of the team; helping to support us in changing how we work and giving invaluable advice about funding, organisational stability and much, much more. Thank you to them all!” Amanda Sutton, Director of Venture Arts
‘Kindness of their Hearts’ | an exciting, new, virtual exhibition of artwork by our volunteers
During National Volunteers’ Week we’re also celebrating the artistic talents of our volunteers with a new virtual exhibition of their artwork: ‘Kindness of their Hearts’. We had a great response to our call-out for submissions of work. The final selection of 15 pieces by 15 volunteers (in painting, print making, textiles, mixed media, ceramics and photography) was chosen by our participants’ steering group.
Two of the group members, Liam Ashworth and Amber Okpa-Stother, worked with our Artistic Manager Katherine Long to curate an immersive, virtual exhibition – an exciting first for Venture Arts. View the works on the walls of a ‘gallery’ and ‘stroll’ around, taking it all in and exploring at your own pace! All at the click of this link.