Creative Lives On Air (formerly known as 'Up for Arts') is a dynamic partnership between Creative Lives and BBC Local Radio stations. It shines a spotlight on everyday creativity through local radio, boosting wellbeing and reducing isolation. The initiative began with BBC Radio Merseyside as a legacy project following the 2008 EU City of Culture in Liverpool.

Since 2008, Creative Lives On Air has expanded its reach to communities and regions across England and Wales, currently collaborating with eight BBC Local Radio Stations (find out more here). It also develops bespoke learning and training opportunities in radio and podcast making.

Here are our top highlights from the past few weeks

A new report ‘Creative Lives On Air: Phase Two Report’ (written by Nick Ewbank Associates), published on 5 October 2022, reflects on a period when Creative Lives On Air played an unexpected and increasingly important role in supporting people in communities across the country during lockdown. Read it here

BBC Radio WM

Grayson and Philippa Perry's Art Club at mac Birmingham

Creative Lives On Air Producer, Trevor Pitt, talks to Grayson and Philippa Perry about the lockdown-inspired Art Club and its new exhibition at the mac, in Birmingham. Listen via BBC Sounds. 

"The great thing about when you do art, when you get carried away with it and you stop saying 'is it good?' or 'is it bad?', you get into a flow and you get absorbed and you're enjoying yourself. If you're doing something that just pushes your comfort zone a little bit and you're taking a few risks, it gets really enjoyable," said Philippa. 

Handcrafted Community Christmas Tree

Full of inspiration for the festive celebrations, eight community groups in the West Midlands contributed to the Christmas tree at BBC WM's office, in Birmingham's Mailbox. The groups have hand made decorations using all sorts of amazing crafting techniques –like needlework, ceramics, knitting, wood carving.

Creative Lives Producer, Trevor Pitt met the ladies from the knit & natter group in Stechford, JoJo Wood who runs Pathcarvers and other creative community groups in the region to learn more about their handmade contributions to the Christmas tree.

See the full list of episodes here.

Picture of hands holding a stitching piece

Let's Create Art

As one of the strategic partner organisation in Engage's 'Let's Create Art', we visited one of their fun workshops entitled Meet Mokosh. In this audio piece, we hear more about this UK-wide project designed to bring people and art together from artists Tereza Buskova and Tina Francis who led the activity. Listen below!

"Mokosh is a very powerful symbol because she has been protecting women for centuries. Not only women, but their children, their homes. Mokosh has been stitched into ceremonial clothes to bring magical properties into people's lives: to protect women and children but also to celebrate craft."

BBC Radio Tees

South Tees NHS Wellbeing Choir

Rachel Teate visited the South Tees NHS Wellbeing Choir during a recent rehearsal to learn more about the passion driving the members of this group and get some good vibes. The interview highlights how singing as part of a choir helps everyone involved boost their wellbeing and deal with stress.

Listen here!


Radio Club at BBC Contains Strong Language Festival

Back in June, 36 (primary) year 5 children from three Birmingham schools took part in a poetry workshop on held by Coventry's Poet Laureate Emilie Lauren Jones, The children read and explored poems with themes on growth, and then worked in groups and individually to write their own poems about growth, with another theme worked in. Their poems covered topics including friendship, the environment, Covid-19 and racism.

The pupils performed their poems at a live event on Sunday 11 September as part of the Contains Strong Language Festival, inside PoliNations' Wondersphere.

BBC BBC Radio Suffolk

Cooking with refugees around the world - Making Conversations - Women Walking Wild

This autumn, Creative Lives On Air Producer Rosa Torr has been busy with various projects, from interviews with refugees sharing their favourite food recipes, an open space for people based in Suffolk and Norfolk, from across the political spectrum, to have open and constructive conversations while participating in a creative activity, and a FREE creative writing workshop for those eager to submit their spooky stories to BBC Radio Norfolk's Upload ahead of Halloween. Here's the full list of projects you can take part in / listen to:

Women Walking Wild

Rosa's recent search for community creativity took her to Great Yarmouth where she visited a new exhibition celebrating the artwork created by Women Walking Wild - a project produced by Under Open Sky and took place in Great Yarmouth (Spring - Autumn 2022,) connecting eco-therapist Beth Stephens and community artist Genevieve Rudd with women from Feathers Futures.

The project group went on walks around the local area, including the beach, parks and cemetery and sessions included reflective artwork, writing, learning about habitats and holistic well-being activities, such as guided breathing and grounding. More than just learning about wildlife, the project facilitators made space for participants to feel deeply connected to the landscape.

Listen to this radio interview via BBC Sounds [2h23min into the show].

The Zainab Project 

  • The Zainab Project Episode 1: Project co-founders Rasha and Sarah shared their Sudanese Falafel recipe. Listen via BBC Sounds [2h16min into the show] 
  • The Zainab Project Episode 2: Samiya shared her Nigerian Yam Porridge recipe. Listen via BBC Sounds [2h15min into the show]

Tune in every Friday to hear more!

Making Conversation On Air

  • Two episodes are available for you to listen via BBC Sounds [1h06min51sec into the show] 
  • Learn more about this series here.

Some of our favourite feedback from participants is:

I really enjoyed it. It gave me the opportunity to focus both mentally and creatively without distractions.

Really good to have the challenge of making while focusing on a conversation and on finding out about the other. (I felt) Excited. Convinced of the vital importance of creativity.

BBC Radio Sheffield

Outdoor folk music, dancing and shadow puppets at dusk

Hear from Jennifer Vernon-Edwards' depicts the magic resulted from the moment you take a n ordinary space and use it with immense creativity. Jennifer chatted with some of the participants at a local pop-up festival in the North of Sheffield. Listen via BBC Sounds [2h40min into Paulette Edwards' show]

How crafts can help deal with mental health issues

Earlier this year, Jennifer visited Andrea - an amazing craft enthusiast to learn about her story and share it with radio listeners. Andrea truly believes that anyone can do anything creative. She shared her craft story in two episodes of the Creative Lives On Air at BBC Radio Sheffield.  

You can listen to the first part of the interview right here (via BBC Sounds), right now! (story begins at 2h21min into the show)

Here are some of our favourite snippets:

"A lot of the sewing we did in my family was by necessity because we were quite poor. We used to make bin bag frogs and we'd use old winter coats and make teddy bears out of them."

For me, craft is an escape route. For my mental health I need it.

We're quite a neurodiverse family and I think, in some ways, craft speaks to us massively. 

"My son and my partner both play music, my partner has always done woodwork, leather work, my son is a brilliant musician, he's always loved writing and drawing so I think craft for us has been really good in dealing with anxieties, for me, depression and for my daughter, to be able to just go off and paint a little bit in her room, it gives that outlet and a bit of a headspace." 

"I had the idea that we should have a play group for adults to come together and make something even if they make a mess. Play, I think, is essential to everybody."

Learn more about Creative Lives On Air at BBC Radio Sheffield here.

BBC Radio Leeds 

Robyn Nichol

The Richard Stead Breakfast Show featured the story of Robyn Nichol who embroiders images from her northern childhood roots and uses it as a tool to help with mental health. 

Her work is part if a new initiative to celebrate Keighley's shopping heritage, called the K-Town Shopper. It includes an arts trail and 'alternative' department stores. Robyn draws inspiration from different brands, her favourite childhood memories and from pic’n’mix sweets, to mushy peas and Yorkshire puddings. See some of her Robyn's embroidery pieces via Instagram @robynnichol.

Our favourite quote from a participant featured in the audio piece is: 

I started experimenting with embroidery because for me this process is very beneficial for my mental health.

Listen to Robyn's conversation with Richard Stead via BBC Sounds (from 1h:36m).

In a more recent show, Rima Ahmed chatted with two of the Getaway Girls on air to find out more about how they created their own podcasts. Take a listen via BBC Sounds. 

This follows our collaboration with the Getaway Girls to create a series of podcasts to empower girls and women in Leeds and to inspire them to explore their own creativity. In the first podcast, two members of the Getaway Girls talk about creativity and what they are proud of as women living in Leeds. Sumaiiya interviews poetry writer Lara.

Listen to their conversation below. Intro by Kaiha.

Learn more about the Creative Lives On Air projects on BBC Radio Leeds.

    Stay up to date with the most inspiring radio shows that spotlight everyday creativity by following #CreativeLivesOnAir on social media.