Three years funding secured for Creative Hub in Newport

Independent Arts, the creative health charity for the Isle of Wight have been awarded three years grant funding from Reaching Communities. The grant will secure the future of the Creative Hub at 48/49 High Street, Newport, where more than 100 vulnerable residents of all ages enjoy a wide range of arts-based activities six days a week.

Independent Arts pioneered the use of arts-based activities to support all kinds of health problems more than 35 years ago. Nowadays, especially since the Covid pandemic, the benefits of such activities in helping people to connect and express themselves is widely understood by health professionals and artists alike.

Chief Executive Lisa Gagliani MBE said, “This funding couldn’t have come at a more crucial time when more people than ever need access to a safe place to talk, to craft or make music with each other and make connections. Loneliness is a huge problem across the Island for so many, across all ages, so we’re delighted to be able to stay open, including Saturdays from March.”

The grant can only be spent on activities at the Creative Hub, leaving the charity stillwith lots of fundraising to do for all the SingAbout sessions around the island, the schools-based sessions that help children to learn skills for life and to provide lots of sessions to help residents with advanced dementia in residential care homes. For the Creative Hub, the grant will fund an Operations Manager, a Programme Support Officer and several of the sessions that are offered throughout the week, led by local artist practitioners who are paid on agreed freelance rates. These sessions include Creative Café on Mondays, Make and Create on Tuesdays, Wellbeing Café on Thursday and Chess Craft on Saturdays.

Since being awarded the grant, the charity has recruited the team to continue the support to the local community:

Hub Operations Manager – Ralph Ridler has been appointed to this role with immediate effect. Ralph joined Independent Arts in 2020 as Community Fundraiser, where he has secured the support of several businesses, wrote local successful grant applications, ran matched funding campaigns and delivered on events such as Wight Proms, Ventnor Fringe and Cowes Fringe.

Programme Support Officer – Ali Atkinson joined in June last year as a Hub Coordinator. She now steps up her role to three days a week – to ensure that the impact the charity makes is properly recorded and shared.

Also secured partially by the Reaching Communities grant together with another grant from SNG, is the part time role continuation position of Creative Project Assistant for Evie Clarke, who joined the charity in the autumn thanks to the Breakthrough scheme via Artswork. This means that Evie will be staying on with extra responsibility for the new Arts Lab project that will enable up to 15 young people to become arts for wellbeing champions.

Due to Ralph’s change in direction, appointed Matt Hitt has been appointed as Community Development Manager, who will be joining mid-March. Matt has a strong arts interest, notably through his performances as part of Ventnor Darlings and he managed volunteer led fundraising events at Mountbatten. Joining Independent Arts from his current role at IW Community Action, he also brings recent experience in youth projects, so the team are greatly looking forward to him getting started.