Painting the town in lockdown

17 Jul 2020 12:28 PM

Keeping people connected throughout the lockdown and social distancing restrictions has been challenging for us all – but virtual creative activities have been linking people up across Staffordshire this summer.

Tamworth Urban Arts group New Urban Era (NUE) were able to embrace creativity in lockdown with live graffiti events and dance workshops, supported by repurposed Arts Council funding.

Artist NoL Belgium – Michael NoL

Tamworth Urban Arts received Arts Council funding in 2019 for a 2020 arts and sports festival – however, when lockdown was enforced, they quickly moved the project online, with virtual activities.

In May, they launched Unity Paint Jam– NUE’s first ever livestreamed graffiti event, with eight different artists taking part. For more than five hours, artists joined in painting live from across the UK, including artists Gnasher, Si Mitchell, Affix, Reko, Roots, Peachezz and Helen Martin, accompanied by pre-recorded DJ sets.

With more than 20,000 views online, NUE went on to host two more Paint Jams in June, with artists from across Europe joining in, and audiences taking part in live-streamed workshops in beatboxing and breakdance.

Artists N4T4 UK – Tim Robottom

Peter Knott, Area Director for Arts Council England, said: “Creativity has the power to bring people together, to connect communities and make the places we live vibrant and exciting – even during lockdown.

“In these unusual times, it’s great to see community projects like this finding new ways to link up artists and audiences, celebrating homegrown Staffordshire talent and using technology to bring creative opportunities to even more people.” 

Vic Brown, Founder of New Urban Era, yesterday said:

"At first we thought all our projects would be cancelled when the severity of Covid became apparent, putting all our hard work in jeopardy.

“However, we’ve been overwhelmed with the support from Arts Council and the ability to change our project plans to suit the current situation. This enabled us to continue with our work and also reach new audiences."