BEST IN SHOW: Holly Scott with her rosette after success in the Showstoppers competition
BEST IN SHOW: Holly Scott with her rosette after success in the Showstoppers competition

A BARNARD Castle-based arts charity has been ensuring creativity has not been lost during the ongoing pandemic.

Northern Heartlands has organised a host of activities as part of a project called Creativity in Crisis.

Cash from Arts Council England’s Covid Emergency Fund enabled the charity to recruit professional artists with a range of different skills to organise activities for people of all ages and from very different backgrounds.

Activities have ranged from a project with Year 6 pupils at Middleton-in-Teesdale Primary School to work with artist Gemma McColl to an online creative writing programme for new mums with Durham-based writer Kathryn Goda.

There have also been doorstep singing sessions with classical singer Penny Randall-Davis for those stuck indoors to an animation project with young people and families with specialist Sheryl Jenkins.

Northern Heartlands director Jill Cole said: “It’s been a great chance to work with different groups and people – many of whom we hadn’t worked with before.

“People have dealt with the hardships of this horrible crisis in many different ways, and using creativity can really help come to terms with some of the things that have happened – or just relieve the boredom and tedium of lockdown.

“Many parents of new babies and toddlers have felt very isolated, while Year 6 pupils really missed out on those special final weeks of primary school last year.”

She added: “The project has been a great way of responding and helping people deal with some of the things that has happened to them, personally.”

Ms Cole sid the funding was also intended to support artists, the majority of who are freelance and self-employed and who missed out on government support.

One of the most popular projects was a photography competition hosted by photography collective Wideyed, in response to the fact that there were no agricultural shows last year.

The competition, called Showstoppers, featured different categories in much the same way as the prize veg-growing and cake-baking contests of the regular shows and the results were displayed in an innovative outdoor touring exhibition which included a pop-up gallery on Eggleston village green in the autumn.

While most of the projects have now completed, there is still a chance to request a personal serenade from Penny Randall-Davis online during the current lockdown.

The half-hour session on Zoom could either involve some relaxing sound work or give someone the chance to enjoy a personal half hour concert with music of your choice.

Contact info@northern for more information.

And to see some of the results of the projects so far, find Northern Heartlands channel on YouTube.

One final project is a film made by former film-maker Ollie Smith, professional dancer Lizzie Klotz, actor Ed Cole and musician Jack Burton.

They have recorded the stories of five local people who have dealt with lockdown in very different circumstances.