Creative approaches supporting community care during lockdown and beyond

Creative approaches supporting community care during lockdown and beyond

cohealth is continuing to work with artists and communities to support the work created during lockdown or between lockdowns to continue to support recovery.

During hard lockdown across 2020 and 2021, Arts Gen worked with artists and leaders in their communities to develop a series of creative projects supporting heavily impacted communities to continue to connect, build community and create. Arts Gen, supported by cohealth is a space for learning, sharing and art making based at Footscray Community Arts Centre in Melbourne’s inner west. Through socially engaged creative practice, Arts Gen promotes self-representation and platforms that support the creative potential of communities from Melbourne’s West and North.

cohealth believes that community led-creative approaches are essential to self-determination and mental wellbeing; and when communities have the power and access to the arts, to develop and determine health and wellbeing initiatives, it leads to truly representative culture making.

The range of projects created during lockdown included: a 6-episode podcast series as a guided practice to support people in the trans community and an online afro-centred magazine dedicated to holding space for multidimensional experiences of black creativity. A series of 8 YouTube how-to videos were also created - from Brazilian dance, to planting succulents and making banners from home. Each of these projects had great traction within communities and even SBS media.

Creative responses also supported lockdown recovery by:

  • engaging the Young Eritreans of Australia to organise a community picnic for up to 140 community members
  • the development of a performance video Three Fold Rise about reflecting on how the lockdown affected young black communities (featured on triple R and Wyndham Art Prize Finalist)
  • a 40-minute podcast episode Honesty Policy that captures and shares local stories of resilience and resourcefulness and created conversations about positive mental health through creativity and shared spaces to hear community stories
  • cohealth also supported High Rise High Five a children’s guide to staying healthy and safe during COVID-19, developed with and for public housing communities in Fitzroy, Collingwood and Richmond.

The continuing lockdown experience required cohealth to think differently about how to support and care for community. 'Understanding that creating is a form of collective care encouraged us to explore the arts to determine and develop health and wellbeing initiatives created by and for affected communities.' Shifting much of Arts Gen programming online has also helped cohealth think about access that we want to bring into everyday work practices.

Check out the Arts Gen website for more information about current and past projects.

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