Swarthmore Centre brings arts project to South Leeds

Swarthmore Education Centre based at Woodhouse Square in Leeds is celebrating after being awarded £200,162 in funding from The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK.

Swarthmore will use their funding to run a two year project called ‘Creative Communities’ in South Leeds, in areas which are affected by poverty and social exclusion. The project will target Middleton, Belle Isle, Holbeck and Hunslet and provide an exciting arts based programme in each area, including a sessional artist to facilitate sessions, all materials, lunch and a creche worker, if needed, to ensure additional barriers for the local community are overcome.

There will be three six-week programmes in each area over each of the years, delivered in community spaces which are known to the community and are easily accessible. A celebration and exhibition of work produced will be displayed within each community. Swarthmore will work with volunteers within each area, developing skills needed to move towards further training and employment.

This new National Lottery funding will provide access to arts for those over 18 in the areas targeted with the aim of overcoming social isolation, developing new relationships and promoting pride of place. Swarthmore will be attending local events to promote and recruit participants in the project over the summer, with the first sessions starting in September.

Details of how to get involved will be available soon – check out the website and social media for more information, or keep an eye out in your local area. They will be holding launch events where the community can come and see what is on offer, influence the delivery of sessions, volunteer on the project, and have a go at some of the arts and crafts featuring during the project.

Swarthmore recently won the Community Development Award at the Educate North Awards in Manchester for their Art at the Heart project, which supported Ukrainian refugees to develop confidence in English through arts and culture.

Chris Baillie, Director of Swarthmore said:

“Thanks to National Lottery players, this grant means that we can engage with some of the hardest to reach members of the community in Leeds, offering access to arts based learning, which is often inaccessible due to the cost and location. Our target areas are Middleton, Belle Isle, Holbeck and Hunslet, and we are really excited to be able to engage with people who may be new to Swarthmore through our Creative Communities project.

“As I was brought up in the area, I am delighted to be able to seek out the talents in the communities and promote a sense of pride in what we can achieve. This will make a big difference to people’s lives.”

National Lottery players raise over £30 million a week for good causes across the UK. The National Lottery Community Fund distributes a share of this to projects to support people and communities to prosper and thrive.

During the pandemic, in 2020 alone, The National Lottery Community Fund distributed almost £1 billion to charities and community organisations across the UK. To find out more visit www.TNLCommunityFund.org.uk


This post is based on a press release issued by Swarthmore Education Centre

Photo: Exhibiting work from the Art at the Heart project


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