(c) Marcia Chandra

(c) Marcia Chandra

Our first ‘Monthly Meet’ looked at remote creative projects that go beyond online workshops. Here’s what we learned

We marked the start of English lockdown #2 with the first in our new series of Refugee Week & Platforma Monthly Meets: friendly, online get togethers for people interested in arts, culture and social change, which we’ll be holding on the first Thursday of the month.

Over 80 people from across the country joined the debut session on 04 November, which explored moving ‘Beyond Zoom’: approaches to creative projects that don’t rely entirely on working online.

We heard from Marcia Chandra, Producer at Counterpoints Arts, about the Clapham Park Creative Coop, and visual artist Paria Goodarzi about ‘Distanced Assemblage’, a creative engagement project by Paria, Francisco Llinas and Glasgow Women’s Library (Marcia’s presentation here and Paria’s here). We then broke into break out groups to share our questions, thoughts and ideas.

Here are some of the key learnings shared about doing online or ‘hybrid’ creative projects:

  • Find out where your participants are at – do they have internet access, and what kind of activity do they want, need or have time for at the moment? Do they have specific needs relating to language, age, or something else? You could find this out through a survey (by phone, Whatsapp or whatever people have access to).
  • Be prepared for offline work to take time, for example calling people takes much longer than sending a round email.
  • Topping up participants’ phones or providing wi-fi dongles so they can participate in online activities is an option for organisations who are able to fund this.
  • Don’t assume everyone is comfortable using technology like Zoom – training sessions might be needed to help people feel more confident.
  • Think about how participants can have the sense of working on something collectively/ being part of something bigger, even when they are taking part remotely – can artwork created at home be brought together in a collective piece, or shared with others (on or offline)?
  • If you’re working in one geographical location (e.g. a housing estate), think about ways shared outdoor spaces can be safely used – e.g. participants’ creative work might be left in the street for others to encounter.
  • Projects can combine offline and online approaches, e.g. participants might create something using an art kit they receive in the post, and then share their work with others in a Zoom workshop.

Our next Meetup is Thursday 3 December, 11am – 12.15pm. Keep an eye on the Refugee Week newsletter, website or social media channels for details of the theme and how to book.

If you have suggestions of topics for future Monthly Meets, do contact us.

Hope to see you in December!