Renuka Ramanujam, of Oban Open Draw in Oban, Argyll & Bute, tells us how a 'Together Again' microgrant from Creative Lives helped them bring in a guest tutor and buy much-needed materials and equipment.

"The Oban Open Draw aims to enable creativity in a warm, sociable space for all. Modelled off of a similar Open Draw event in Amsterdam, a selection of art materials (from paints and printmaking equipment to embroidery hoops and sculpting clay) and inspiration books and prompts are laid out for participants to create with as they desire in a casual setting.

People of all ages and artistic abilities are welcomed to create in a diverse and inspiring environment, and participants are also encouraged to bring their own projects if they wish, as well as drinks and nibbles for them to relax and enjoy as they work!

Starting in October 2021, we’ve seen the Open Draw bring different demographics of Oban together under the roof of our generous hosts The Rockfield Centre, a community arts organisation that has provided us with a wonderful facility as well as equipment donations to carry out our activities. 

A key aspect is that the night is run purely on donations to keep the event accessible for all, whilst being able to replenish further supplies. However, with the success of the first few Open Draw events, word began spreading around town, and donations of art supplies were being made regularly from the local community. As a result of this, in early 2022 the skillshare concept was introduced to create a novel aspect for our regular participants whilst being able to utilise the full range of our donations.

Each month, the Open Draw offers a specific activity for participants to try if they feel so inclined; this has ranged from lino printing to paper marbling and tapestry weaving. The Open Draw has also had guest tutors facilitating book-binding and life-drawing sessions. 7

The Creative Lives grant was instrumental in allowing guest tutors to share their wonderful skills, helping to purchase more specialist equipment as necessary for these sessions as well as the tutor fee.  

Many who attend the sessions note how lovely it is to have a space to just draw and be creative in a casual manner, not being able to make time for that in their busy lives. Others enjoy creating in a social setting that has allowed them to connect with people in the time of the pandemic.   

For anyone passing through Oban, the Open Draw is held on the last Friday of each month, as a drop-in session between 5.30pm-8.30pm at the Rockfield Centre."