We are pleased to be offering creative activities online for you to enjoy while Covid-19 social isolation rules continue.

We are adding more video sessions every week – please join us on our Independent Arts YouTube channel.



We are reintroducing face-to-face sessions of our popular community groups as and when Covid-19 restrictions ease. Please contact us for details.


Isle of Wight school children creatively support older residents in care homes

Press release 10 February 2021

School Ties poem

Pupils from three island primary schools have pulled out all the stops in recent months writing letters and creating beautiful cards and paintings for older residents in care homes. St Blasius Academy, Shanklin, Lanesend Primary School, Cowes and St Thomas of Canterbury Catholic primary school, Newport all took part in Independent Arts, lottery-funded project, School Ties. Pre-lockdown, 10 children from Reception and Year 1 in each school spent every Friday morning having their lessons alongside 10 residents in three care homes. Project delivery lead Jo Rigby explained:

“The mutual support between the children and residents as they worked and learned together through song and craft, stories and gardening was really moving with some great and lasting friendships made between the homes and the schools.

"When the pandemic really began to bite, we knew how lonely residents would be without visits from their friends and families and we were so pleased when the schools were keen to help. We finally achieved one of the key aims of our Lottery funding which is to strengthen communities.”

Covid restrictions meant the charity needed to think really creatively about how to develop homes' and schools' exchange opportunities, and they came up with some pretty novel ideas. These included audio messaging of Christmas Carol singing, letter exchange, pop-up indoor art galleries with artwork and letters from the homes’ residents to the children displayed in the schools, and art-work and letters from the schools’ pupils to the residents displayed in the homes. One of the care homes, Brighstone Grange, told us:

“Thank you so much for the exhibition board, the children’s contributions are so lovely and our residents have really appreciated the artwork and the letters.”

Recently the pupils and residents worked on creating poems themed around a collection of photographs from the Museums Heritage Service archive taken in the 1800s by Sandown photographer James Dore. Poems were then shared and exchanged between the two groups.

The latest caper the charity has come up with is Messenger Pigeon Post. Jo Rigby told us:

“We wanted to try to come up with fun ways for children and residents to connect and thought this a fantastic way to teach children a little about the incredible work the messenger pigeons carried out during both wars often flying long distances injured and wounded from enemy fire. We thought their courage and resilience might inspire us all. It’s also a great way for residents and children to have a little bit of light-hearted fun witing telegrams and messages to one another. I’m now busy making felt post bags and some friendly pigeon graphics to carry our post to and fro with all the correct quarantining guidelines in place, of course, to keep everybody safe.”

During the first lockdown in March 2020 Independent Arts distributed 300 creative packs to Island children both in and out of school, and to 64 care home residents. With schools once again closed for lockdown 3, the team are flat out producing a further run of 300 packs for children, families, and residentsn. The packs are stuffed full of simple easy to follow creative and learning guides together with paints, colouring pencils and glue.

Jo explained:

“These are all really expensive items for parents to add to their shopping bills and we are acutely aware of the pressure this can put on families particularly at the moment. The winter months are hard too with children stuck inside, we wanted to help.”

For more information please contact Independent Arts


Looking Out From Lockdown

Press release 22 January 2021

Looking Out From Lockdown

Looking Out From Lockdown is an Island-wide project celebrating the creativity of Island people during lockdown, both in 2020, and again now in 2021. In collaboration with Lord-Lieutenant of the Isle of Wight, Susie Sheldon, local arts for wellbeing charity Independent Arts is offering people the chance to exhibit their lockdown creations, be it painting, photographs, poetry, music, speech, pottery, writing, crafts, projects, inventions, baking, gardening or anything else creative completed to keep spirits up during lockdown.

Whether it is something that captures the moment of lockdown one, or whether it is right now in lockdown three, everyone is urged to get creative and submit their projects to fill the gallery with their thoughts, visions and reflections in any art form, plus the story behind them. The website will become a “time capsule” for our Island Community to admire and share in years to come when reflecting on our experiences during the pandemic.

The plan is to hold physical exhibitions after restrictions end, so please save those creations that can’t be exhibited online. For contributors who are unable to photograph and submit work online to the website, there will eventually be the option to use drop-off points, where creations can be photographed and submitted on your behalf and returned.

Charities, radio, local papers, schools, care homes, businesses, clubs and organisations and events during 2021 are all encouraged to get involved in this project and give people the motivation to get creative. Individual exhibitions of Looking Out From Lockdown could be held around the island, once restrictions ease.

The Lord-Lieutenant of the Isle of Wight, Susie Sheldon, says:

“This is an exciting project that should give everyone an incentive to concentrate their talents for a purpose. In these difficult times we all need a purpose to keep us motivated. Everyone has the ability to be creative in different ways and I am really excited at the prospect of seeing all the works, ideas, inventions, thoughts etc that have come out of the time Islanders have spent in Lockdown both in 2020 and again now. Let this be something really good that comes out of the difficult times we are all going through."

Lisa Gagliani MBE, Chief Executive of Independent Arts, says:

“When we heard about this idea, we knew it was perfect to add to our existing Islesolation Gallery developed in lockdown one – with this new impetus, we hope many more Islanders will find inspiration to have a go and submit something, as we know just how valuable making, doing and displaying one’s creativity can be at a time of stress.”

Jo Dare BEM, CEO of Age UK Isle of Wight, comments:

“Lockdown is challenging, but to keep positive we know Islanders have been turning to existing talents, or learning new skills, some of which may have included, or been taught by, older residents. Whatever your age, whatever your way of letting time pass whilst keeping safe, and hopeful for the future, we want to see what you’ve been up to. You may even inspire someone else to have a go as well!’

Mayor of Ryde, Cllr Michael Lilley says:

“Looking Out From Lockdown is a great project idea, as it provides a message of hope and an outlet for voices and creativity of all our Island residents from their homes during lockdown. We need our community to stay safe but not silent and this provides an outlet to share our thoughts for the future and the fantastic imaginations within our community."

To find out how to get involved, head to Independent Arts online

Submissions are welcome from any Island resident, of any age, preferably via email attachment to [email protected]

Please check the Tips & Tricks section of the website for help in providing a good quality image so that your creativity shines.

For video or musical submissions, email and attach a YouTube link.

Editors notes:
For further information about the Lord Lieutenant’s office contact: [email protected]
Tel: 01983 756050
For further information about Independent Arts contact [email protected] or to submit something for the gallery email a good quality photograph and description to [email protected]
Tel: 01983 822437
The online gallery will be an expansion of the ‘Festival of Islesolation’ Independent Arts created during the first lockdown in 2020, which was funded by Arts Council England.
Independent Arts is a registered charity (Registered in England and Wales No. 297474) that has operated on the Isle of Wight since 1987. Its mission is to change lives through arts. Before lockdown it ran workshops in the community and in care homes reaching 1700 people each month. Now many of its services can be accessed online, via Zoom and its own YouTube channel. See www.independentarts.org.uk for details


Independent Arts connecting continents amidst the Covid-19 crisis

Press release 6th January 2021


Independent Arts, a local Isle of Wight charity, has trialled a new digital project aiming to reduce isolation for those living in residential care, cut off from their friends and families during the Covid-19 pandemic.

InTouch2 tackles one of the biggest ongoing tragedies to emerge from the scourge of the pandemic. Locked away and shielding in care homes, some of the most frail and vulnerable in our community have had to endure months of isolation, shut out from the world around them and from the friends and families they love.

The challenge for the charity was how to reach this group and how to get them learning, engaged and tech savvy enough to use these devices independently. Nic Ward, Independent Arts Programmes Coordinator, who has led the pilot, explains:

“After consulting with the Island care homes, we knew we needed to start with simple straightforward learning aids. With the help of two key practitioners (artist Trudie Wilson and tech practitioner Mark Lloyd) I oversaw the design of filmed, easy view guides which we uploaded to the pilot iPads. We then created sets of highly visual easy to follow laminated guides to accompany the films as a back-up.”

The project is now up and running in three Island care homes: Seven Gables, Totland, Tile House, Shanklin and Newport Residential and the early signs are really promising. Says Nic:

“It was really exciting to discover that one of our project learners was planning to use the iPad to speak with his brother in South Africa via Skype on Christmas Day. To think we have helped to connect loved ones across continents at such a difficult time was the best Christmas news I could have ever wished for, and our homes’ digital champions have been essential helping to make all this happen.”

Independent Arts is now seeking funding to upscale the project to involve more Island care homes in this life-enhancing programme. The charity has partnered with Age UK, the NHS and others on the Island to develop an Island wide digital strategy aimed at improving digital literacy and user confidence in the older community and has begun knowledge sharing with the 3Ts digital project in West Wight.

Nic Ward wanted a final word to come from the Activities Coordinator at Tile House:

“I love the idea of making the iPads accessible. Friends and family that used to come used to interact with all the residents were like one big family. Some of them would be visiting someone, but other residents or staff might join them and everyone would benefit. The friends and loved ones were very much part of the home, which was so very social and they are no longer able to come. Coming up to Christmas this project was awesome! We needed this. This will really help with residents’ mental health and wellbeing. It is fantastic.”

Independent Arts is a charity using the arts to improve health and wellbeing. Registered charity 297474.

For more information please contact us


New Creative Hub in Newport High Street for Independent Arts

Press release 18th November 2020

Creative Hub

Community Engagement Manager Hannah Griffiths, Chief Executive Lisa Gagliani MBE and Community Fundraiser Ralph Ridler, outside the Creative Hub


Isle of Wight charity Independent Arts has announced a major new project that will allow people from across the Island to get involved with creative programmes.

The new Independent Arts Creative Hub will be located at the former Monsoon building in Newport. The building, situated at the corner of the High Street and St James’ Square, is being refurbished this month and will be open to the public as soon as regulations allow.

The Creative Hub will feature exhibitions from Independent Arts community programmes across the Island, as well as opportunities to engage with arts for wellbeing activities. Independent Arts are delighted to be launching this major new project which it hopes can contribute to the regeneration of the High Street. To ensure the Creative Hub can reach its potential and be financially sustainable, Independent Arts has welcomed three new team members this month. Amy Normanton and Kerry Weston will share the day to day running of the Creative Hub and Ralph Ridler has started his role as Community Fundraiser.

Charity Chief Executive, Lisa Gagliani MBE said:

“This is a major step forward for Independent Arts, in our strategy to improve health and wellbeing on the Isle of Wight through the arts. For too long, most of our activities have been hidden from public view, taking place in village halls and care homes. We look forward to welcoming you to the Creative Hub, where you will meet familiar and new faces of the Independent Arts team.”

Independent Arts is the Isle of Wight charity focused on using the arts to improve wellbeing, quality of life and to reduce social isolation. Supported by volunteers, fantastic practitioners and a small staff team in Newport, the charity engages with up to 1,700 people every month across the Island.

Like many organisations, the charity has been affected by the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. In response, the charity’s much-loved community services, including SingAbout and DanceMakers, have moved online during the pandemic, reaching thousands of people who might otherwise have been isolated.

The response to these plans from Independent Arts stakeholders, supporters and the public has been phenomenal. The charity is grateful for the support in this endeavour of The Tudor Trust, The Julia & Hans Rausing Trust and Arts Council England, as well as the Island community who have raised £600 through a crowdfunding appeal. Donations can be made up 26th November through this link or afterwards via the Independent Arts website.

JANUARY UPDATE: Due to national Covid-19 restrictions, the hub is currently closed. We look forward to opening once restrictions ease.

Please contact us for more information.


Support our "Let's Get Back to Normal" crowdfunder

Our £1000 target month-long crowdfunder runs to end November*, to ensure Independent Arts can safely reopen its community space in Newport High Street. Please support and spread the word!
*Now extended to December 16th, with great rewards on offer!

Support us here


Independent Arts video diary

2020 has not stopped our creativity. Just some of the art we've created and shared this year, day by day, in one-second fragments…


Notable Newport: Historic characters fill Cockram’s Yard

Press release 12th October 2020

Notable Newport installation at Cockram's Yard

A street art project dreamt up by Newport and Carisbrooke Community Council and local charity Independent Arts has been installed in Newport’s Cockram’s Yard. The project, also supported by Shaping Newport, allowed people to learn more about notable characters from Newport’s history and gave them the chance to design how these characters were represented in the final piece.

Independent Arts Community Engagement Manager Hannah Griffiths says:

“Notable Newport has got the Newport community really involved. We ran story sessions telling people about some of the colourful characters from Newport’s History, starting in libraries and community groups then on YouTube when we all went into lockdown. People were very clear about who should and shouldn’t be included! The notable people were chosen because they were interesting and perhaps not so well known or were seen as inspirational.”

Cllr Julie Jones-Evans, Chair of Newport and Carisbrooke Community Council said:

"This is the third street art project in Newport Central, created with the local community and this one has special resonance with our town.

"It's been fascinating finding out about the people that contributed to the life and growth of Newport and now seeing them up in Cockram's Yard, more people can be introduced to these Notable Newportonians and delve deeper into our local history.

"This project was started a year ago, so I'm really pleased with the hard work of Independent Arts in completing it under difficult circumstances.

"It's perfect timing as we commence the High Street Heritage Action Zone, which is £1.4m of investment, over 4 years, in the core shopping area of Newport, made possible by the Shaping Newport partnership between NCCC, IW Council and Newport Business Association."

The groups were also asked how they would like to see 2020 represented on the historical timeline. All the groups felt that the image should be one of inclusivity and diversity, as they felt there is more that unites us than divides us in our community. Images chosen were adults and children, a dove, a rainbow and the earth. Local artist Trudie Wilson helped bring everyone’s ideas to life.

Visitors are invited to take a selfie with the characters and tag #notablenewport in your images.

To find out more about the Notable Newport Characters, head to the Newport and Carisbrooke Community Council web page.


Jot creative writing competition winners

We are delighted to announce the winners of our 2020 creative writing competition…

Read more


Independent Arts welcomes new trustees

Press release 10th September 2020

Isle of Wight charity Independent Arts has welcomed two new trustees to its board.

Glass artist Brian Marriott ran a successful design company on the island prior to retirement. He mentors design degree students at Isle of Wight College and is a founder trustee of Isle of Wight charity WightAid. Brian said:

"I have been professionally involved in the creative industry all my life and the Island's charitable sector for many years. I have recognised the great work Independent Arts has delivered to the Island's community of all ages and therefore I welcome this opportunity to add my skills to planning a new future for this much-needed charity."

David Lindsay spent most of his career as an executive in international retail, with a focus on buying and marketing. He is actively involved in the local community and is a keen singer. David said:

“I admire the values of this charity and have been most impressed by the commitment of all of those involved. I feel that it is important to spread this message to a wider audience across the island and intend to use my knowledge and experience to help achieve this aim.”

David Linsay and Brian Marriott, Independent Arts trustees

David Lindsay (left) and Brian Marriott

Chair of trustees Wendy Varley said:

“Independent Arts’ board is delighted to welcome David and Brian. Their combined skills and experience and their knowledge of our island community will be a real asset to the charity."

Chief Executive Lisa Gagliani said:

“At a time of such challenge to communities and charities, it is tremendous that we have come through this pandemic with such positive outcomes. Gaining two new trustees, and our services translating digitally so well with new initiatives such as our Festival of Islesolation which welcomes new participants and supporters alike.

“We thank our arts practitioners and volunteers for helping us stay agile and focussed – and we are busy now preparing to return to socially-distanced community programmes where they are most needed.”

Independent Arts was founded in 1987 and uses the arts to improve wellbeing, quality of life and to reduce social isolation on the Isle of Wight. During the pandemic many of their activities have been held via zoom and YouTube, with some now happening outdoors and socially distanced at venues across the Island.


Updates on Anxiety Café and DanceMakers (September 2020)

Currently, we are in the process of looking for indoor venues for Anxiety Cafe, but keep an eye on our social media pages for further updates!

When it comes to DanceMakers, Lake and Newport have indoor venues and are going ahead regularly, whereas Freshwater is taking a break until we can find a new home.

If you have any queries, please get in touch with us.


The Pencil Case Project

The Pencil Case Project

This project was begun in response to the Covid-19 lockdown measures when our lottery-funded inter-generational schools and care home project School Ties was temporarily halted. Our funder, the National Lottery, very generously agreed for funds to be repurposed to provide for the new art sacks!

Read more


Isle of Wight charity Independent Arts launch new online arts portal – The Festival of Islesolation.

Press release 22 May 2020

Festival of Islesolation

To mark the start of its ambitious and aptly named Festival of Islesolation, local arts and health charity, Independent Arts, has announced the opening of an exciting new community gallery space open to all. Independent Arts CEO Lisa Gagliani MBE said:

“Since opening our People's Pop Up Gallery (PPUG) in 2019 we have discovered the importance of the community submitting and viewing art made by people like them. We have been inundated with requests to show work. Our new cyberspace home is so exciting because it’s vast: we can triple, quadruple our current gallery space and free ourselves from the constraints of a physical building. We are thankful to Arts Council England for funding this new online gallery space.

“The new gallery rooms and performance studio will become the home of our fantastic Festival of Islesolation. We hope the whole Island community of families, residents, artists, photographers, writers and performers of ages and backgrounds will create work for us and of course come along and visit the space too. We want you to get creative and fill our beautiful new gallery with your thoughts, visions and reflections in any art form. Practicing artists are invited to come forward to submit commissions for micro-projects too. Successful candidates will have presented ideas that best use their own practice to interpret their experience of lock down and engage and involve their communities.

“The arts have so much to offer for everyone, and can be such a solace for loneliness and solitude, especially in these dark and worrying times. We want you to respond to this point in history creatively and share that with us and the rest of the Island.

“Independent Arts are extremely grateful to the Arts Council for providing funding support as part of their Covid-19 response to enable the charity to undertake this project as part of a package to support the Island’s strong arts community. The opening of the gallery will be marked by a highly topical exhibition of portraits of care workers and residents from two Island care homes. These portraits so aptly demonstrate how the charity’s work embedded in the care sector for over three decades is so well placed to sensitively portray the humanity of people’s lives and their work. The portraits were taken by Island photographer Julian Winslow and were commissioned as part of the charity’s Changing Spaces project funded by Dunhill Medical.

Key Workers photographed by Julian Winslow

“The gallery will house rooms named after famous Island luminaries from the creative and literary world: the Julia Margaret Cameron Gallery, will be given over to photography, film and media. The Alfred Lord Tennyson gallery for poetry and creative writing. There will be a gallery housing the charity’s permanent collection, a sculpture gallery, a dedicated gallery showcasing work produced as part of the festival and in direct response to the Covid-19 crisis. This will include a Bayeux-like, community Tapestry of Isolation telling your stories of lockdown. The new gallery will also house its own fully equipped online performance studio.

Operations Manager Hannah Griffiths says:

“The most exciting part of the new online space will be The De Fortibus gallery. This gallery will show work curated by you, the local people of the Isle of Wight. Independent Arts is asking you to choose up to ten of your favourite artworks to be included in this regularly changing space. Perhaps you would like to curate with your family, your housemates, work colleagues or just pick pieces that speak to you.”

Independent Arts is an Isle of Wight charity (registered charity 297474) founded in 1987, using the arts to improve wellbeing, quality of life and to reduce social isolation.

Take a look for yourself and visit

Islesolation Gallery

For further information, please

Contact us



We'll Meet Again… Online

Press release 1st April 2020

Hanna - We'll Meet Again - Ryde Singabout - virtual choir - coronavirus

Isle of Wight Charity Independent Arts is used to delivering workshops to communities and residential homes across the Isle of Wight as part of their programme to improve health and wellbeing using the arts. Government regulations to prevent the spread of Covid-19 has stalled their work, but not for long.

The team of staff and practitioners supported by their team of volunteers began planning how they could do things remotely to help reach some of their participants. This has involved looking at how technology can bring their practitioners to the people who need them most.

Operations Manager Hannah Griffiths says,

“From the day that the new Government regulations came into place to ask those who were vulnerable to self-isolate for twelve weeks, we started planning ways we could reach those who would be stuck behind closed doors for many weeks.

“It’s taken us a bit of time as we wanted to make sure that our workshops continued to be as good quality and accessible as always.

“We are pleased to announce that we are now running virtual Anxiety Cafe sessions via Zoom, we are planning to start virtual SingAbout next week and virtual DanceMakers sessions very soon.

“Our care home workshops are also going digital with our practitioners being beamed from their home into the care home.

"We are also putting daily content on our You Tube channel including poems, talks and songs that anybody can watch and enjoy.”

Hear Hanna’s ‘We’ll Meet Again’
We will meet again, we know where, we just don’t know when. Hopefully we can see many of our regular participants and some new faces online very soon.

SingAbout practitioner Hanna Nixon is helping is spread the message, with her beautiful signed and sung rendition of We’ll Meet Again.


March 2020 update

Our wonderful Independent Arts team is now working mainly from home to continue serving our fantastic community during the Coronavirus crisis. Please see our homepage for current information.


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