Tracey McVerry, Project Co-ordinator of CAP’s Landmarks project, speaks about Lockdown and CAP’s new annual programme

How are you coping during the Lockdown?

It has been a LONG sit that is for sure and the novelty of being no further than the local shop for baking supplies wore off after a few weeks. We had been in our own unofficial lockdown before the government issued it. I had decided that my children would not be going to school after 13th March which also coincided with the St Patricks Day break. We had already limited our movements or who we were seeing in person and as a family where taking things into our own hands. Since then the new norm has been a hard one to conquer and very frustrating at times but rewarding at others. Trying to find a sense of rhythm with a new system for a house hold of six has had its challenges but we have managed to survive to the best of ability. 

How are you preparing for the new annual programme?

I’ve been contacting groups who have taken part in the Landmarks programme over previous years. Touching base with them just to say hello, offer them support and to let them know that our annual programme is up for grabs during this crazy time we are all going through at the minute. They each are trying to instil a new sense of normality both personally as as community hubs which is challenging for them on many levels. Ive also been looking at ways that groups can create quality sculptural art works independently and remotely. I’ve been inspired by community installation projects where individuals can create something on their own yet it forms a larger project when displayed for the public. 

What challenges are there in conducting community arts classes during this difficult period?

Trying to develop a coherent programme which groups can embrace remotely has been challenging. A lot of our groups support and serve individuals who are rurally based, elderly, vulnerable and socially isolated. The work they do is so important to the communities they support and the programme we will provide must be able to address many issues on a simplistic and accessible level. Given our artists will be ‘facilitating remotely’ and the groups will also be ‘participating remotely’ the projects must be straight forward and accessible to everyone involved. 

What new skills are you working on in order to deliver the programme?

Working digitally is not my strong point infact Im a bit of a tech dinosaur and this is really the only manner in which we can bring our projects to our groups. Ive had to bite the bullet and take video or live stream workshops on the chin.This is actually exciting for me believe it or not and my kids are teaching me a thing or two about set up etc which   

Why does Community arts matter during this period?

Community arts is so important during this challenging time. Many people feel so isolated and fearful of being together again as groups and that the life they had a couple of months ago has evaporated in front of their eyes. Community Arts will help them weather this storm in a positive and hopeful way where they can create something together as a larger community.

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New Belfast Community Arts Initiative trading as Community Arts Partnership is a registered charity (XR 36570) and a company limited by guarantee (Northern Ireland NI 37645).Registered with The Charity Commission as New Belfast Community Arts Initiative - NIC105169.