The McManus: Dundee's Art Gallery & Museum has embarked on an ambitious six-month remote learning and engagement project to help combat isolation heightened by the current COVID-19 pandemic. 'Reconnect' will enable the museum to continue to provide valuable cultural engagements, resources and experiences for community groups with long term health conditions and families groups. This will enhance positive cultural participation and ensure that isolated and shielding participants can still benefit from the rich experiences the museum has to offer.
An integrated team of museum educators, curators, cultural partners and freelance artists has been brought together to support those most in need. Participant groups involved are from Alzheimer Scotland, Home-Start Dundee and Tayside Healthcare Arts Trust. The project has been made possible thanks to Art Fund support and additional funding from Tayside Healthcare Arts Trust.
All project activities are designed to spark imagination and support shared remote learning experiences, utilising the museum's new temporary exhibitions 'Time and Tide: The Transformation of the Tay' and 'A Love Letter to Dundee: Joseph McKenzie Photographs 1964-1987' as creative catalysts throughout. Both exhibitions narrate Dundee's stories through film, photography, audio, objects and artworks from across the city's collections and celebrate the influence the River Tay has had and still has on our city.
Activities include digital reminiscence sessions and tutor led zoom sessions to develop skills in photography. A wide range of family friendly digital activities, free art kits, artist-led art activities as well as specially choreographed museum themed online dance sessions. Participants will also have a wide range of opportunities to share their own stories and co-produce final project artworks and publications.
Billy Gartley, Head of Cultural Services, Leisure & Culture Dundee, said:
The McManus is delighted to work alongside our partners to host this learning initiative to remotely engage with our wider community in such difficult times. While we look forward to welcoming visitors back to all our venues, its essential that we do all we can to support the wellbeing of our audiences with creative and imaginative approaches such as Reconnect.
Cheryl McDermid, Creative Learning Officer at The McManus, said:
"Many people in our city are currently facing poverty and hardship. It's a crucial time for cultural venues to reach out and provide creative engagement with groups. Equalities and inclusion are central to the museum's audience engagement and at this time in particular, we want to activate positive mental health and wellbeing. This is a real chance for the museum to test and develop new ways of working remotely, to ensure we help those who have been isolated further by Covid-19 to feel re-connected to their city, their culture and each other again."
Estelle Coulthard, Young Parents Co-ordinator from Homestart Dundee, said:
"Covid-19 has caused enormous negative impacts on the mental and physical health and wellbeing for families. Many families are extremely worried about their income and do not have the means to purchase art materials or feel creative enough to provide their children with a creative activity at home. This partnership will benefit our groups massively, allowing them to connect to positive experiences, cultural access and free enjoyable creative activity or similar."
Nicola Lorimer, Locality Leader at Alzheimer Scotland, said:
"These groups will be invaluable for many of the people we support and linking up with the McManus will be beneficial to people with dementia and their carers by building positive relationships and improving their health and wellbeing in these difficult times."
Chris Kelly, Projects Coordinator for Tayside Healthcare Arts Trust said:
"We are excited to be collaborating with The McManus for the first time and it is particularly valuable for us to be sharing resources at this difficult time. Our participants are finding this second lockdown even more difficult and the weekly creative challenges provide a positive focus and exchange for everyone."