Create Course – Session 1

Create Course Session 1
By Naomi Alexander

This is the first of a series of blogs documenting the Create Course. A brand new pilot which is being run by Battersea Arts Centre and the Katherine Low Settlement – a local community centre whose mission is to: relieve and prevent poverty, disadvantage and discrimination; foster community cohesion; promote social inclusion and reduce isolation; and increase the health and well-being of those on the margins of the local community.

We are piloting the project this summer and autumn with the generous support of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

The course aims to enable local people to explore their creativity and develop it in any direction they chose.

There were plenty of nerves at the start of the Create Course held at the Katherine Low Settlement in Battersea on 4th June 2015. First sessions are always a little bit scary. You have to be brave just to walk in the door to try something new, somewhere new, with new people for the first time.

However, within minutes of getting started there was laughter and the conversation was flowing as people started to get to know each other. Group members are all local people living in Wandsworth who wouldn’t think of themselves as artists. The aim of this 8-week course is to enable them to discover their creativity, which, we believe, is in everyone.

Our first session explored the question ‘What is creativity?’ We watched this short film that the RSA has produced, which looks at what creativity is and what the barriers are to people realizing their creativity.

Afterwards we had fascinating conversations about people’s reactions to the video. We explored the barriers that people might face as individuals in being creative; lack of confidence, time etc. But we also discussed the institutional barriers and the elitism with which many arts organisations seem to invest in a few mainly white and mainly middle class artists. Participants said that this feels very exclusive.

We also talked about the way in which opportunities for creativity are being systematically removed from school curriculums, with the lack of value placed in creativity currently. A lot of the group members are mothers with school age children who talked of dance lessons being removed from the school timetable and only being provided after school at a cost of £40 per lesson. This cost simply prohibits these kinds of opportunities for their kids.

We discussed different types of creativity; that which we all have control over to develop in our every day lives and that which is dependent on external resources and the legitimization of arts institutions. From our conversation it seemed that people could recognize moments in their every day lives when they are creative and could see how they could develop these:

  • Cooking
  • Playing with kids
  • Knitting
  • Sewing
  • Gardening
  • Taking photographs
  • Running a community group

However, people identified that the barriers that prevent people from developing any form of creativity into a project which might attract funding, were complex and significant. It seemed that the route from people developing their own creativity for their own pleasure to being able to access public funds to develop and share their ideas with others, was hazy at best.

After further discussion about how each participant would like to enhance their creativity through this course, we enjoyed a tasty lunch provided by the Katherine Low Settlement and enjoyed getting to know each other a little more. People left saying they would bring a friend with them to the next session as they’d enjoyed it so much.

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