Art in Dounby monoprintFiona Mitchell of Art in Dounby in Orkney tells us how a 'Together Again' microgrant from Creative Lives helped the group to keep going after the pandemic.

"Art in Dounby was delighted to receive the Together Again microgrant, which came at a time when the group was beginning to struggle to continue. Our member numbers dropped due to the pandemic and the worry people naturally had about meeting in groups. 

The snowball effect in lower numbers and the lack of confidence was that we were no longer able to get tutors in to give us lessons and teach us new skills, so it felt like it was a struggle for most of us to get creative. The general feeling was that we wanted to continue, and we all felt that things would 'return to normal' after a while if we persevered. 

I am glad to say that the grant enabled us to continue to be able to afford the weekly hire of the hall without raising fees, and it allowed us to spend a bit on materials and a small printing press so we could all enjoy trying various methods of printing, mainly mono and lino cut. 

Art in Dounby linocutOur group members range from age 14 to 70+ and we meet every Monday evening and only stop for a few weeks in the summer and again in the winter from before Christmas until February. We are a very diverse group, there are some who make a living from their artwork, some who are only doing art at the group, and some who are doing art daily. The variety of work produced every week is inspiring and the benefits of being part of the group are numerous.

I do believe that the grant enabled us to keep going when it had become unviable and I don't think we would be there now if we hadn't kept going. The numbers are back up again, thanks to new members, and the feeling is the group is a success and a benefit to the community and would be a big miss if it were to stop."