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Independent Arts Changing lives through art since 1987

Updated: Oct 17, 2022

We are proud to be again supporting the charity, Independent Arts, at this year's Wight Proms. In this guest blog, you can read about the many different ways Independent Arts help support the local and wider community.

Last year it was music to our ears when Wight Proms asked us to be their associated charity. For over 30 years Independent Arts have been dedicated to improving the quality of life for people living on the Isle of Wight, particularly those with special needs, Older people and the disadvantaged, by providing access to exciting and stimulating creative activities. This last year has been no exception and our many creative projects have taken us all over the Island. We have met incredible people, children, artists and supporters. Yes there’s been dancing, singing and painting but there’s also been moments when confidence grows, allowing hidden stories to be told and this creative expression can be the start of feeling better. Here are just some of our highlights:

School Ties

We began a pilot intergenerational project that involves primary school children being taught alongside residents of care homes. The classes were held in residential homes and involved creative activities that linked to seven early years learning outcomes. Notable positive effects were achieved for both care home residents and school children. School Ties was so successful we now have secured funding from the Big Lottery to introduce this concept to more schools and care homes across the Island. This ground-breaking project has the potential to enhance and improve care home provision as well as having significant positive benefits for our school children.

Art and Identity

We had an exhibition at Dimbola Museum and Galleries! Art and Identity is a collection of stunning black and white photographic portraits created by older people, at workshops run by Independent Arts at Southern Housing Group supported accommodation schemes. The images were inspired by discussing themes of capturing a person’s likeness and sense of self within a photographic portrait. The remarkable portraits created by Julia Margaret Cameron, the trailblazing Victorian photographer based at Freshwater, were used as inspiration and the workshop sessions were led by photographic artist Julian Winslow. The exhibition even caught the eye of Roger Watson the curator of the Fox Talbot Museum in Lacock and over the summer they were shown there. Art and Identity was part of a larger project Time and Tide which was funded by the Arts Council.

The People’s Pop Up Gallery aka PPUG

In May, thanks to the generosity of The Gravesend and District Real Estate Company, we transformed an empty shop on Newport’s High Street into an art gallery and wellbeing hub. Since then we have welcomed over 1,000 visitors and have had five exhibitions including an end of year art show, Be CreARTive, by the pupils of Nine Acres Primary School. The children curated the exhibition and even showed Bob Seely MP around. Bob was particularly taken with the cave paintings where the children had even made their own paper. PPUG is located at 33 High Street and is open Thurs-Saturday 10.30am -3.30pm

Something to Sing About

In April we received a grant from The Henry Smith Charity which will go towards three years' running costs of the SingAbout project. SingAbout was developed in 2010 to focus on the needs of our increasingly elderly population and in particular issues around social isolation, dementia and loneliness. Now, over 500 elderly people attend sessions every week, participating in social singing groups that not only allow friendships to flourish but also can improve mental, physical and cognitive health. For many participants SingAbout is their only form of social activity, so securing a further three years of provision is a most welcome result.

"I'm not so lonely, I go out more, have some lovely friends that I didn't have before. This helps boost my mood and my depression is much better." JA 69 years of age

We Launched our Portfolio Project Designed to Improve Mental Health

An estimated one in five GP visits are made for non-medical reasons and a total of 70.9 million prescriptions for antidepressants were dispensed in England in 2018. Whilst medication is one intervention research has indicated that art therapy can have a positive effect on mental health, especially in cases of depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. With this in mind we launched Portfolio an 8 week project consisting of mixed media art practice and mindfulness workshops aimed at promoting wellbeing for people with midlife mental health issues. Portfolio will run throughout the coming year and you can see an exhibition of work created in the pilot project at PPUG until the end of August.

Of course none of this would be possible without the support of our dedicated team and the talented artists and art practitioners that lead our workshops and groups. If you want to find out more about the work Independent Arts do or are interested in participating in one of our activities, please visit or give us a call on 01983 822437

About Independent Arts

Established in 1987, Independent Arts is a registered charity dedicated to improving the quality of life for people living on the Isle of Wight, particularly those with special needs, older people and the disadvantaged, by providing access to exciting and stimulating creative activities. Independent Arts also lead the way in social prescribing by connecting people to social activities which have proven to significantly improve health and wellbeing by meeting wider emotional, physical and social needs. Social prescribing can range from a referral to the Anxiety Café, DanceSense classes for people with neurological conditions, Singing for Breathing to improve lung conditions, photography workshops for people living with dementia, gardening projects and social events for those who feel isolated. Every week between 500-600 Islanders attend activities, projects, workshops and classes facilitated by Independent Arts. Click here for a full list of projects

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