Best Arts Project WINNER – Create & Learn PlayKits

Since May 2020, a group of Wandsworth creative organisations and Wandsworth Council have worked together to make and distribute over 3000 kits of creative materials and activities to children aged 6-10 years-old in most need via 42 Primary Schools and 16 Community groups and Summer Schemes.

The Create & Learn PlayKits have been selected as one of three winners of the Best Arts Project Award in the 2021 Hearts for the Arts Awards. In the words of our judges, here’s why:

Direct, impactful creativity delivered straight to the young minds who will have charge of our culture in the future. The view that this was done with an eye on digital poverty is a massive bonus. This kind of project isn’t a one off experience or tied to a certain location. The impact of the work done here goes home with the kids. I am very happy to hear they want to continue the project and work with artists and more schools in 2021. Adrian Lester: actor and director

It was lovely to read about how many different sectors of community came together to offer such an invaluable service at what was such a difficult time for so many deprived families with young children. The simplicity of the project is brilliant, and enabling so many kids to access the joys of creativity is hugely worthwhile. I grew up in a house where both my parents were artists, so it was normal for me to be surrounded by books and art supplies. But, for so many children, these aren’t a feature in their lives, meaning they’re often unable to develop their skills or experience the joys that creativity brings. Without access to these, I imagine I would have not gone into the arts (same for my brother – who is now a renowned portrait painter!), so it’s crucial that as many children as possible are given the chance to develop their imaginations and artistic talents! Francesca Martinez: comedian, writer, actress

This project is such a great example of the whole being more than the sum of the parts. It’s great to see so many smaller local organisations pooling their interests and expertise to create a bigger project that fulfils many different needs. It’s really important to have practical support for creativity for under-served groups, and this community collaboration will hopefully continue to build on this foundation to give this access to everyone. Helen Czerski: physicist, oceanographer, television presenter

It’s so heartening to see local communities band to gather to hold the most vulnerable in our communities. Having all seen the Marcus Rashford campaign that forced the government to u-turn on feeding kids in poverty, and then who they contracted the objective to and the paltry result, it is heartening to see local communities, schools and councils identify these areas and step in to provide not just nourishment for the bodies but, very importantly, soul food. We will not know the full ramifications of the pandemic’s damage especially on kids in the heart of their developmental stage- so this is not only a wonderful, but a very important thing. Le Gateau Chocolat: drag artiste and cabaret performer

A wonderful example of a community responding to specific need and bringing art and creativity into the homes and lives of the children involved. Particularly important during the lockdown to facilitate access to self expression. A really heartwarming and simple example of what a big impact small targeted local initiative can achieve. Mariella Frostrup: journalist and broadcaster

At a time where art seems to be sadly getting lost in our school system, it has been in danger of getting entirely forgotten during the home schooling months of the lock down. This is an amazing, selfless, show of dedication to hand back the facilities to children in this time of need. We take it for granted that while in school the supplies are there on hand, unfortunately for some there is a lack of materials readily available at home. Paul Hartnoll: musician, composer, founder member of Orbital

A wonderful project to address the needs of children and their families during lockdown. It’s great also that the play kits attracted local sponsorship, linking with food banks, schools and community groups, and that so many partners gave their time in-kind to make it happen. Petra Roberts: Cultural Development Manager, Hackney Council (2020 Hearts for the Arts Winners for the Windrush Generations Festival)

This is a simple idea, beautifully executed. Putting affordable creativity into the hands of children allows them to set their own bar and not worry about clearing other people’s. At a time of great tension and sadness, projects like PlayKits remind children that they’re here and the marks they make matter.  Samuel West: actor, director, Chair of the National Campaign for the Arts

Read more about the nomination for Create & Learn PlayKits here

Pupils from Albemarle Primary School with their Create & Learn PlayKits

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