Spokeswoman Sarah Jackson said: “Artwork donated by our community programme participants will be on sale to raise vital funds to support many aspects of the community programme, which provides local people with disabilities, health issues and those who are isolated with meaningful and long-term opportunities to increase their confidence and improve their health through their interest in art.
“This free exhibition showcases a wonderfully-rich and diverse array of artworks produced and donated by 60 artists involved in the gallery's community programme. All the artworks are for sale at affordable prices and the money raised will be match funded by a private donor.
“The funds provide essential core funding to keep this highly valued and inclusive programme running. The community programme provides opportunities for local people with disabilities, health issues and those who are isolated to follow their art interests and be part of the general life of the Gallery. The focus is on art, not people's disability or other support needs, and for those involved it can be an important life changing opportunity.
“The 2015 fundraising exhibition sold 34 works of art ranging from paintings to prints, raising a total of £1,940. Once again, the Gallery is offering members of the public the opportunity to purchase an original piece of art and, at the same time, support the gallery's award-winning community programme.
“The community programme has evolved over many years and is today widely acclaimed for providing long-term meaningful creative opportunities for a diverse range of people from the local community. It now numbers over 180 active members.
“The programme hosts a variety of creative activities in the gallery's studio to suit all people's interests and needs. By focusing on individual creative interests rather than disability or other support needs, the Programme's work gives participants a departure from the assumptions and prejudices about disabilities that they often experience daily. Through this approach the programme nurtures the artists's confidence, both personally and in their creative practice. The long-term and continuous nature of the community programme means that artists with chronic illness or recurring bouts of poor mental health are able to continue their community programme membership without worrying they will lose their place. Over the years, a strong self-supporting creative community has evolved at the gallery where long-standing members welcome new people, showing a genuine interest in each other's creative practice and demonstrating the supportive nature of the programme.
“Funding the community programme is a long-term commitment and requires sustainable support. This exhibition offers an opportunity for community members to contribute to this process themselves by donating artwork they have created since joining the programme. This gesture is an expression of the powerful and sincere appreciation members feel for the programme and the positive impact it has made on their lives.
“It is also an opportunity for the gallery's visitors and members of the local community to get to know more about the gallery's offering to local people whilst supporting its ongoing success. The money raised will be essential to maintaining the current work and important social role of the community programme.
Some of the community programme's key initiatives include:
· Partners in Art brings together a volunteer who has an art interest or is a practicing artist with a person who has additional support needs, to share and develop their mutual interest in art. All volunteers receive training to help them understand their role. Each partnership is carefully selected and matched to meet the needs and creative ambitions of both the volunteer and the partner. They are encouraged to work together in an equal way with respect for the others' creativity and interests. Meeting on a regular basis, partnerships typically create art together, visit exhibitions, take part in community art events or attend art classes. The majority of partnerships stay together on average for three years but there are a significant number who continue for four years and more.
· Community Workshops, supported by skilled volunteers who enable people with differing needs to take part in creative activities, learn new skills, meet other like-minded people and gain confidence in visiting the Gallery.
· Art Views is the latest initiative led by the Community Programme. These dementia friendly creative discussions provide an opportunity for people to look at, explore and discuss 5-6 selected works from the Gallery's collection. The discussions are facilitated by an artist educator who encourages everyone to consider their own interpretations and responses. Art Views is open to everyone, integrating people who are living with dementia with Community Programme members and the general public.
· Pallant Creative Collective was formed in 2015 by ten artists from the Community Programme with the aim of learning how to put on an exhibition and to do so outside of the Gallery. The Collective has taken part in the Littlehampton Arts Festival for the past two years and members exhibited at the Oxmarket Centre of Arts in Chichester along with other members of the Community Programme in October 2015.
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