When news of lockdown hit we were devastated that we were unable to continue our programmes in the same manner. But that didn’t stop us! So, as an Arts organisation we began to do what we do best…be creative! Here’s what we have been up to.
 
Online Classes
Tune in every Monday to Rochelles Facebook Live hip hop class at 6.30pm on our Facebook page. Its been fab to see some of our regular dancers joining each week to showcase their talents – and great to see some new faces too!
 
Our popular Junior Drama classes have continued delivery online Monday and Thursday with tutors Mark and Sarah. The classes have been great fun and a chance for the group to reconnect. Both groups are working towards a Murder Mystery showcase and we can’t wait to see what they come up with!
 
Boredom Buster
We wanted to connect with our young people, families and community during this challenging time. To give them a sense of escapism, fun and an opportunity to continue using their imaginations. We came up with the concept of an Art Activity Book, filled with a wide range of innovative, entertaining and creative activities/games that can be done solely or as a family. We collaborated with a team of various local artists, all working from home with numerous emails, zoom meetings and phone calls “Boredom Buster” was born. A whole 5000 to be exact!
 
A wonderful new project that we all created and were so excited to share with North Belfast. In fact, we were that excited we began delivering the books warm from the printers and straight from the delivery pallets!
 
Within 2 weeks 5,000 copies were delivered across Belfast. Boxes upon boxes were collected from Youth Clubs, local schools, NHS – Mater Hospital and community organisations. We have been astounded by the fantastic and enthusiastic response that we have received; I would like to thank New Lodge Arts for the wonderful Boredom Buster Book I collected this morning for my grandson and niece. I had a look through it, and it’s fantastic, everyone will love it. I might just go round again and get one for myself.
Well done and Thank you very much – Pat Irvine (Facebook)
 
Due to the success and unbelievable fast rate that the Boredom Buster flew out we also created a downloadable version for those who were unable to get their hands on one or would like another.
https://www.ashtoncentre.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/New-Lodge-Arts-Activity-Pack-2020.pdf
 
Art Packs
During May, we were delighted to create 550 art packs for local children.
As we have missed working with our Arts Academy and Stepping Stones children we wanted to create personal Art Packs for them as well as giving them the Boredom Buster book. We knew the children would love these! The packs were distributed to New Lodge Arts weekly participants, children involved with the Family Support Hub, New Lodge Youth Centre participants and via the local food banks. 550 Personal Art packs were produced and delivered across North Belfast.
 
We hope that our little contribution has made a few children smile on tough days, gave parents that extra 10 minutes to themselves and perhaps have brought some families together having a little quality time without any stress just fun and unlocking your imagination.
 
“We’re all in this Together – Lockdown Style’
This is a time that we have all became more appreciative and looked back to our “normal” lives. As a team we have reminisced to earlier projects such as the hugely successful “High School Musical” that we held 3 sold out shows staged in The MAC Theatre during the Summer 2019.
 
This got our creative clogs turning! We wanted to send out a simple, positive message to our young people. By using the hit song from the musical “We’re all in this together”, we literally all got together virtually and created our Lockdown Remix video.
 
The video featuring some of our cast members from the High School Musical and staff captures glimpses of our lives during lockdown. We wanted it to show that we are all having the same feelings of frustration, boredom, confusion, missing our loved ones/friends and appreciation of our fantastic frontline workers.
 
Meabh McNeill (16) who played the lead role of Gabriella Montez in our musical also stars in the video says,
“It was an amazing project to be a part of as it brought back so many good memories from the show and I really enjoyed it. It turned out amazing.”
 
Meabh joined New Lodge Arts in May 2019 attending a residential trip, since then she has taken part in various projects and also with Ashton’s Breakthrough programme. She has found that her weekly Zoom Sessions have helped her a lot during lockdown.
 
We all thoroughly enjoyed creating this fun project and taking part, we as staff took this challenge very seriously as we are not often in front of the camera. However, for many of us directing our loved ones or animals at home was somewhat challenging to say the least! The blooper videos would definitely be worth a watch.
 
Tackling this situation together is key, yes, everyone will have some bad days but we want to ensure our young people, families and community that we are always here for support, encouragement and to listen regardless the distance.
Remember we are all in this together!
Check out the video here
https://www.ashtoncentre.com/new-lodge-arts-were-all-in-this-together/
 
Photo Competition
In May, we launched a photo competition on Facebook LOCAL – CAMERA – ACTION. We asked people to take photos within their local area and submit these online.
 
We received loads of entries and the staff team had the task of collating the Top 10. This was a difficult task as we received loads of fabulous photos including views across Belfast, top landmarks including Titanic Belfast, local street activities and lots of cute animals! The Top 10 went to the public vote on Facebook and The winner was Grace Rogan for her fabulous photograph of the sunrise at the tip of the Cavehill. Congratulations Grace with a whopping 333 votes. Grace received a £50 Amazon voucher.
 
Thank you for everyone who took part in this competition and for taking time to vote and sharing this. We had an unbelievable response and support towards this.
 
May 5k per day
Throughout May, we set up a Facebook group encouraging people to walk, run, cycle or even row 5K per day! The group was very popular with a consistent number of people achieving their daily target. The motivation for each other spurred us on to keep active and get off the sofa! Now the group are continuing to support the New Lodge Youth Centre #NewLodgetoNewZealand challenge!
 
Summer Planning
Normally, we are busy planning our packed Summer Programme at this time of year. Unfortunately, projects will not go ahead as planned but we are working on alternative delivery methods, following government guidelines and social distancing. Please follow us on facebook https://www.facebook.com/NewLodgeArtsBelfast/ @NewLodgeArtsBelfast and stay up to date with what’s happening.
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