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Museum project supporting vulnerable women shortlisted for prestigious award

A pioneering project at Mansfield Museum that helps vulnerable women overcome challenges they have faced has been shortlisted for a national award.

Art Power was set up as a two-year group in 2022 to support women who are survivors of trauma, including domestic or sexual abuse. The group meets at the museum to learn more about objects and artworks in the collection and to take part in creative activities to develop their artistic skills with sessions guided by input from freelance artists and an art therapist.

The council’s efforts in these schemes have now been rewarded with a place in the final of the Best Museums Change Lives Project Award category, competing for the win against two other national projects. The Museums Change Lives Awards celebrate museums’ achievements, making a difference in the lives of their audiences and communities across the United Kingdom.

The winner of the awards will be announced at a ceremony in Newcastle-Gateshead on 7 November.

Portfolio Holder for Regeneration and Growth, Councillor Stuart Richardson said:

“The Art Power group is doing some fantastic work in the community with vulnerable women by tapping into their creativity through the therapeutic power of art.

“We are delighted that this scheme has been recognised as up there with the best in the Museums Change Lives Awards. I want to thank all our staff, partners, and group members for their invaluable contribution in ensuring the group’s continuing success.”

The Art Power project is the first time Mansfield Museum has been involved in a scheme of this kind, and it is part of an ongoing Mansfield District Council Cultural Services programme of ‘arts on prescription’ to help address health and wellbeing challenges in the district.

The group marked its first anniversary on International Women’s Day on 8 March this year with the installation of an exhibition of work by its users throughout the month. Referrals to the group usually come from domestic and sexual abuse services as well as social prescribers.

It is hoped that the scheme will build resilience and may lead to employment, apprenticeship and volunteering opportunities for some participants as a legacy of the project.

Sian Booth, Cultural Services Manager at the council added:

“Ensuring the women leave the museum feeling more positive than when they arrived is a real highlight of this project. It’s such a big step for some to even step through the door in the first place.

“Working in a museum is all about ‘care’, caring for objects and being careful when we handle them. Art Power has opened our eyes to how creative workshops in museum spaces can improve wellbeing.

“Mansfield Museum is a place of care, a safety net and space of sanctuary and support for so many and a caring institution.”

The scheme is one of a number of social prescribing projects at the theatre and museum. These schemes align with a wider set of council Wellbeing priorities to improve the quality of people’s lives in the district and objectives of the Mansfield Health Partnership, which was set up in 2019.

Among the activities that aim to help and connect people are:

Make a Start: Thursdays 11.30am to 1pm, at the museum – a support group aimed at those with long-term health conditions or poor mental health. If offers a free cuppa and a biscuit, creative activities, friendship, and laughter.

Reminisce Tearoom: Third Wednesday of the month at the museum, 1.30pm to 3pm – offers a free monthly social event which is ideal for people with memory impairment, their friends and family.

Out of the Box: Thursdays, 7.30pm to 8.30pm at the musuem – offers a relaxed session for adults on the autistic spectrum or with a learning disability to explore their creativity, develop life skills and make new friends.

Volunteer Programme: A mix of busy, creative or more gentle activities. Volunteers’ welcome visitors to the theatre (and can watch the shows, too), help out in our museum by greeting visitors or by helping to look after the collection.

Posted on 18 October 2023

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