Collage Arts, based in Haringey, has led on art and artistic development in the borough for thirty years, providing workspace for 250 artists. They open opportunities for the whole community to engage with art through a range of programmes and projects; offering support services, exhibition opportunities, facilities and resources. They especially work to create greater access in the sector for under-represented groups such as economically disadvantaged young people; black and minority ethnic groups, women, people with disabilities, young people leaving care, LGBT communities and ex-offenders.
The recent coronavirus crisis has seriously challenged the stretched their already stretched resources and the impact on their service is still unfolding, closing all of their buildings leased to artists and their offices to their staff. Most of their staff have had to be furloughed for three months and the financial implications will no doubt be significant.
In weeks their work with young people has had to go through a revolutionary change as they have fight to maintain contact with the young people they work with. Their programme, Collage Works for 18 plus year olds, which accredits up to 75 young people a year with an art qualification has been the easiest to change to complete on-line delivery.
The staff that run their ‘Voices’ programme which is delivered to 83 young people-over sixty attending consistently each week-are working feverishly to keep their young people safe and engaged. Their partnership work delivering a range of art workshops to six Haringey schools has stopped with school closures, as has their work with Haringey Virtual School for young people in care. The event venue Karamel, base for much of their youth delivery, is now firmly closed, preventing the Saturday arts school and the monthly theatre workshops for young families.
Collage Arts are grappling with the additional safeguarding needed for this on-line work with young people, reviewing suitable platforms and updating their approach, connecting families by phone, so that the young people and their parents feel involved in the new processes and that staff are confident that they have considered all the important issues of working on open platforms with young people that have a heightened vulnerability at this time.