Over the past month, I’ve been reaching out to members of the Arts in Corrections Network, checking in and finding ways we can support each other.
I’ve decided to provide some helpful tips about what other people in the sector are doing to help ensure a strong future for Arts in Corrections in Aotearoa.
1. Finding financial support for artists/organisations in the Arts in Corrections sector
Financial support for contractors and/or organisations is available as part of the Government’s COVID-19 wage subsidy. There’s also project-based support or financial hardship support from Creative New Zealand in its support package for the arts sector. Funding support is also available for not-for-profit organisations and there’s a useful list on the Exult website.
For links and further information on how to apply please go to the Arts in Corrections COVID-19 updates page on the Arts Access Aotearoa website.
Sponsorship from businesses is becoming harder to get because of the impact of COVID-19 on the economy. But remember, there are generous people in the community who would love to support the arts.
Hold an online auction, put out a call for donations, do an Instagram campaign about how people can support the continuation of your project. You may be surprised by who’s out there and wanting to support you.
A great fundraising website is Boosted. It has just released its new platform, Boosted Live, which is a great way to raise funds and promote your initiative. I once applied for funding through Boosted and dressed up like a lobster as part of the campaign. My campaign was successful although I did look a bit ridiculous. It’s all about creating a story and having fun while promoting your project.
2. Navigating the barriers and keeping in touch
At this time, communication is more vital than ever. We are facing an unprecedented reduction in staff, visitors, facilitators and volunteers going into prisons across the country. Thankfully, this has meant there are no cases of the virus in prisons.
However, it has limited prisoners’ contact with the outside world. I believe that these are the times when art is most needed. For those of us in the community, being isolated is a temporary thing. For many prisoners, isolation is the everyday.
In my previous blog, I said a robust Arts in Corrections sector needs to be flexible and adaptable. Members of the network have come up with some creative solutions to keep the stream of communication active. Some are creating online resources for the Corrections staff still working in the prisons. Others are posting letters to reach people inside the prisons. Some facilitators are relying on mentoring programmes already set up so prisoners can continue making art.
Helen Farley and Mary Louis Sloane from the Education and Training team at Ara Poutama Aotearoa, Department of Corrections have created an initiative called Brain Bites. It includes a range of exercises and activities such as thought twisters and maths problems that staff around the country have access to. There’s also the opportunity to produce arts-based Brain Bite exercises for the prison population.
If you’re reading this and have a great idea for an arts activity that could be included as a Brain Bite please email me. The activity needs to be suitable for individual use; involve minimal props or tools; and be printable on A4-sized paper.
A number of prison staff are working remotely. I’ve had some feedback from our network members that it’s been difficult to contact some personnel. Please be patient and if you have any enquiries about Arts in Corrections projects or programmes, please let me know and I will try to help.
3, Making wellbeing and self-development a priority
If you’re not sure what to do at home during level 3, you may like to think about upskilling and re-training. Do you have a project you always wanted to do but haven’t had the time to complete?
I’ve started learning German online through the Goethe Institute and am also hoping to start NZSL classes online. If you have some professional development hours available, now may be a good time to use them. Please contact me if you need some ideas about what arts training is available online.
I’ve started to notice increased anxiety within the sector. The sense of pressure or need to “do something productive” can be overwhelming. Please look after your wellbeing during these turbulent times. Use the time to go for walks, do some yoga in the morning, and maybe do some painting. Find the time to pause because (in danger of sounding cheesy) you are your greatest asset. Investing in yourself is investing in your business.
If you have any concerns and want to chat please contact the Arts in Corrections Advisor via email firstname.lastname@example.org