Through discussions and reflections during the pandemic, we were able to enhance our Take Part work, establishing new programmes that directly responded to feedback within our local community as well as building on the projects we already offered. 

Over the past year we raised £6712.33 from individual donations, as well as secured funding from trusts and foundations, enabling us to deliver hundreds of sessions and workshops that supported the power of creativity, nurtured future generations of artists, and made it possible for us to come together through shared experiences.

Let’s hear from some of the people who generously donated money to help us with this campaign:

I donated, because I think Rich Mix plays a very important role on the cultural map of London. My memories are still vivid. Starting life in London as a student was financially very tough, but I was very excited about the rich cultural life and I was looking for opportunities to sample that richness for low price. I was also looking for places where I could listen to West African music that I love so much and I found Rich Mix.

As this year’s fundraising campaign enters its final weeks, we’re looking back on a fantastic year of free activities across Take Part, and celebrating everything we were able to achieve through both our supporters and your generous donations. We’ve been overwhelmed by the support and kind words you’ve shown us during such unpredictable times – thank you from all of us here at Rich Mix.

I believe promoting cultural diversity and making events that are accessible to everyone is extremely important, I certainly benefited a lot from it and I want to give back to you in this difficult time as I trust you continue doing good work!’

Highlights included…

Grace and Mopani look at foods from the African diaspora with the Black History School.

The Black History School offers a free series of films celebrating the history and heritage of the African diaspora. Humble Bee Artistic Director Kamari Roméo created the platform so that families can learn about Black history in a positive, comprehensive and balanced way. People of all backgrounds are welcome to participate in the free, online sessions hosted on our YouTube channel with our Black History School playlist. Find out more about The Black History School on our blog.

New Creatives take to our stage.

Rich Mix New Creatives is a programme for 16-21 year olds who do not know what their next steps are post-COVID, and would benefit from creative connections with a positive peer group. Led by experienced artist tutors, it is a part-time programme run by the Rich Mix team, supporting young people to: Discover and develop creative skills and interests; Gain a deeper understanding of working in different creative industries; Access a wide range of paid work placements; Takeover Rich Mix and create their own festival.

While we were under a national lockdown, we produced a video podcast series called Becoming a New Creative, offering advice for young people and encouraging them to join the programme. As we emerged from lockdown, one of our New Creatives, Milli-Rose, wrote a blog for us on how she settled into the programme this year.

Our socially-distant public art exhibition of Exposure – Imprints in Time.

In Focus came in the form of a 6-week creative photography and philosophy course, for Muslim and non-Muslim women, where we used philosophical thinking to explore big questions together that have no straight-forward answers. Personal and shared views, experiences and memories inspired collages, weaving together photography and words, to be showcased in a public exhibition.

With the onset of lockdowns in the new year, the programme became hybrid, with participants meeting over virtual meetings, phone calls and even receiving cyanotype materials through the post to experiment at home. Despite the difficulties, we held a virtual private view in February for Exposure – Imprints in Time, which was a moving way of celebrating such incredible artistic achievements against the odds. The exhibition was then displayed on the front of our building for passers-by to see and enjoy.

Children get creative at home during lockdown, thanks to our online editions of StoryPlay.

StoryPlay is part of our Free Family Sunday sessions. Aimed at children aged 2-5 and their parents and carers, in these sessions we use puppets and instruments to tell stories, which are animated and involve actions, music and discussion. Offering these on a virtual basis for 2021 was a challenge our team took in their stride, organising an online series available to watch for anyone that wants to get involved remotely, as well as many in-person sessions in our building. Watch the online StoryPlay sessions.

In June we partnered with Black Females in Architecture, who led a walk and workshop session for Everyone A Maker, exploring the architecture and building designs found in Bethnal Green.

Everyone a Maker is another family highlight, especially when the sessions fell on seasonal celebrations, which gave us a chance to mark the passing of another year, despite 2021 being such a different year to experience. This included using household items to make amazing images of light and shadow for Eid, the Festival of Light, back in May, and learning about Jewish history in the East End in time for Purim. Over Ramadan a special Herbal Blessings Clinic included making a healing syrup to be made after a long day of fasting, and during Somali Week Festival we learnt how to apply patterns, colour and textures onto fabric with Hafza Yusuf, a Somali-British textile designer.

Bookswap made its long awaited return in 2021.

Later into the year it was finally time to welcome families back into our building with two socially-distanced Bookswaps, where children could swap books they had read for new stories to get stuck into – all for free.

As part of Illuminate, local light artist Martin Richman presented ‘Shards of Light, The Feeling of Remembering’ as his final piece, on display in our mezzanine area throughout summer 2021.

At the start of 2021 we commissioned local light artist Martin Richman to explore memories of the East End with Illuminate, whereby local people from older generations would be invited to create an artwork based on their memories from the area. The programme included a visit to Martin’s studio to see his artwork in progress, and culminated with a free exhibition here in our building throughout the summer. Here, Martin’s final piece, titled Shards of Light, The Feeling of Remembering was displayed alongside archival photographs and works in progress from the participants.

Illustrator Ellie Stanton attended our Your Toolkit sessions and created artwork to represent the discussions.

We ran 15 Your Toolkit For Resilience sessions, ranging from dance movement psychotherapy to sharing tips for better sleeping habits and how to reduce stress through Cognitive Behavioural Therapy techniques. Read our round-up of the first ten Your Toolkit sessions here.

 

All Purpose co-founders Bettina, Renée and Racheal.

Across the year we hosted five Sinmi sessions with All Purpose LDN, who created an immersive experience themed around the five senses, in order to provide the Black community with some respite following the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and the pandemic. Find out more about All Purpose LDN with our interview.

Our Technical Coordinator Dennis shows Pic ‘n’ Mix participants behind the scenes of a working cinema.

Now in its fourth year, Pic ‘n’ Mix is our year-long film education programme that gives primary school children and teachers the tools with which to tell their stories through film covering training for teachers, screenings, and workshops with writers and filmmakers. We caught up with the Pic ‘n’ Mix team’s progress throughout the year over on our blog.

As part of the programme, on Kids in Museums Day we invite children and their teachers to Rich Mix for a ‘takeover day’, where they visit our building and get to know what we do first-hand. Over the course of the day the children took a tour of our building, impressed us with their marketing skills, and learned about cinema projection from our Technical Coordinator Dennis.

Families have some fun for Dads’ Play Day this year as part of the Jo Cox Great Get Together.

During the summer we partnered with Tower Hamlets Parental Engagement Team for a special Dads’ Play Day as part of the Jo Cox Great Get Together – with crafts, chats, snacks and decorating pots.

Young participants give foley a go as part of our Mischief Makers summer programme.

In the summer holidays we also welcomed local families to our building for a film-focused creative summer programme called Mischief Makers and Movie Creators. Across the four workshops we worked with comedy, light and shadows, animation, and the art of foley – creating sound effects from everyday objects. Read about how the sessions went in our Mischief Makers blog.

The Big Draw really lived up to its name in 2021! We played giant Oware for this year’s event.

In October we teamed up with Art Hoppers, Mwalimu Express and the Oware Society for our Big Draw family event, Draw and Play Oware. This was a creative afternoon where we reflected on the relationship between people and our living environments through the ancient game of Oware. We learned how to play this ancient game, made our own game boards from recycled materials and discovered the meaning behind the symbols carved into the board. 

After the many regional and national lockdowns of 2020 and 2021, it was vital to offer activities that people could be a part of remotely as well as in-person, to continue a feeling of community and togetherness, even when we were apart.

Here are some of our favourite quotes from participants: 

Being a part of something both me and my daughter really enjoyed was comforting and eye-opening at the same time.
My class have been fairly quiet and withdrawn as they returned to school after lockdown. Seeing the children collaborate and work together has definitely helped the children to come out of their shells.
Thank you so much for this series. It is such a good response to the current situation. It is particularly important and valuable that these are free sessions, as some of the people most likely to be suffering mental health issues are likely to be struggling financially. Free sessions mean that these are as accessible as they can be.

Thank you to everyone who has donated to Support Take Part. These projects would not be possible without your donations, alongside the generous support we receive from our trusts and foundations.

With your help, we have been able to come together through culture, at a time when it is needed most. 

#SupportTakePart #CultureForAChangingCity 


Whilst our Support Take Part campaign ends soon, as this is such an important part of our charitable work here at Rich Mix, we will always welcome donations to this programme to help transform East London lives through the power of creativity. Find out more via our Support Us page.