2015 is rolling away from us so we reflect on our achievements this year and to the challenges we face in 2016.
We had a good year all told settling into our new home at Unit 31. This enabled us to expand our offering and the support we give to the vulnerable in the local community. Regular groups, more variety and some very ambitious sessions. The artwork created has been outstanding on several counts. Its quality, its positive effect on the individual creators, the range and variety, the messages it contained and above all the positive feedback received from those viewing it.
We have had many exhibitions this year in the unit celebrating that artwork. My favourite of the year has to be the group exhibition at the start of the year where we transformed the centre of the gallery into an installation about the journey through a mental health issue from darkness into the light which was designed and built by Emma Lowe with nearly everyone at S2C making some sort of contribution.
We gave individuals the chance to exhibit for the first time such as Antony Dixon, a profoundly Deaf artist of immense talent and potential. All the exhibitions served a purpose in helping to build confidence and self-esteem among the service users. Learning how to put up and mount an exhibition was equally part of the experience.
We also collaborated with many different groups and organisations. In particular Lakeland Arts who allow us to visit each new exhibition at Abbot Hall Art Gallery and then to work in the gallery on practical sessions based on the visit. Anne-Marie Quinn the Engagement Officer has done much brilliant work with our service users over the year. We also collaborated with Lakeland Arts at Blackwell Arts and Crafts House with Shannon from Lakeland Arts and Emily Taylor, an amazing ceramic artist. They produced some fabulous tiles based on a book called the Yellow Wallpaper which were displayed in Blackwell.
We also have exhibitions up in the Leisure Centre where our photographs are on display of Blackwell and the Auction Mart. Our most successful collaboration was between our Creative Writing Group and over twenty local artists. They created artwork based on poems written by the group. These wer auctioned of making lots of much needed money for S2C.
It has also been a year where support from Kendal Town Council has been immense with the Mayor Chris Hogg mentioning us and supporting us on many occasions as well as a useful grant to help keep the session we run on the local mental health ward going. The Comic Art Festival also brought its usual excitement with our window in Nevi Sport this year getting much positive comment.
Lots of people have made use of our space too. From web design groups, networking events, CPN led courses, the CDC, a Dementia Group and many more.
So to the future. What can we do and what do we need. We need to improve our funding. We are looking at projects where we can take money for artists alongside paying the rent and bills rather than just looking for rare funding for capital costs. We are also looking to raise money through our website better, having a Donate button and maybe also selling artwork through our website better.
We need more volunteers. Volunteers to help us run the organisation, help service users and run sessions. We are looking to change how we manage volunteers and have specific volunteer job roles for people. Somebody to deal with online content, receptionist and admin, fundraising, session leaders, cleaning, service user support and counselling. It all requires people willing to give their time.
We also want to provide more for our service users. We want to connect better, get out into the community, access Doctors and services to let them know we exist and what we can do. We want to be open more often and have a wider range of opportunities. We want to be able to link better to other services so that we dovetail into individuals support better and above all provide better individual support for people to help guide them forward in a positive way. Not much then!
There is lots to look forward to in 2016 already but I will talk about that next time……. till then have a good New Year.