Artfully confronting our fears and worries together during the lockdown
Māpura Studios is a creative space, offering visual arts, art therapy, music, movement, poetry, dance therapy, performance art and cartooning programmes for people living with disabilities, impairment, or other social and personal need. We provide a professional service in person-centred creative learning & therapies; our work provides an innovative, unique synthesis of arts practice & self- development with a focus on the health and well-being of our artists.
Our focus at the beginning of the year was on continuing our emphasis on the improving the health and well-being of our inclusive community, looking for opportunities to expand our creative programmes to other areas of Auckland and to introduce some new programmes, for example a new singing group. We had a full exhibition calendar planned with around 8 shows during the year.
This year Māpura Studios will have been in existence for 20 years and we were planning to have a large multi modal exhibition at Silo 6 to celebrate where have come from, where we are today and where we may go in the future. This was planned to be the largest and most significant exhibition we have ever had and the whole studio, including all our off-site classes were working towards that. We have had to reluctantly shelve this project because of the Covid 19 restrictions.
Our community is vulnerable, we closed our operations just before Level 4 was announced as we felt it was inappropriate and unsafe to continue. Our biggest challenge now is funding. With no programmes running, we have no revenue from class fees, our traditional funding sources have dried up and there is no short term prospect of this changing and fundraising opportunities this year are minimal or non existent. So financial issues dominate – little revenue but continued outgoings at much the same level. Trying to keep staff employed – the wage subsidy has been a life saver here, but the situation is uncertain after the wage subsidy runs out.
Our main focus since we closed has been on maintaining contact with our participants both to ensure that they are coping during this time and also to keep the communication lines open in the hope that they will all return after the lockdown finishes. We’ve done this by weekly phone calls to each person, emails, Zoom sessions, You Tube, website blog, social media.
With the majority of classes we have run Zoom sessions. The participation has been varied and often dependent on the support, technical capabilities or equipment that the artist has. However those who have joined these groups have enjoyed it, both from the art making perspective but also because it has enabled them to stay in touch with friends and community.
We have come up with a theme of mask making (in all forms) across the whole studio during this time. This has engaged people, allowed them to confront some of the fears and worries they have experienced during lockdown but also to create some great pieces of art. These have been promoted on social media and on our website and we plan to have a performance/street parade/exhibition later to remember and show others how the disability sector fared during this this period in history.
We have learned that creativity helps people come to terms with difficult situations, that being able to engage in art making in its widest context is hugely beneficial to health and well-being, community is key, communication is vital and that what we are doing is enormously worthwhile.
Going forward, we are planning to develop online capabilities to offer creative programmes to people who are disadvantaged or disabled and also to the general community, but who are isolated and unable to attend regular studio creative programmes.