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Venture Arts: how artists in Manchester are tackling isolation and anxiety for learning disabled people during Covid-19

Venture Arts launches an urgent appeal for equipment and art materials to help combat the isolation of its learning disabled artists during Covid-19​

Venture Arts is working hard to develop new ways to keep its learning disabled artists connected and creative during the temporary closure of its much-loved arts studio in Hulme, due to the Covid-19 crisis. The charity provides a stimulating ‘home from home’ for around 100 artists of all ages. The studio is the place they go to create, learn and see friends. Many participants come to Venture Arts several times a week and for lots of them, art is their life and the studio is where they feel happiest. With the studio closed, participants face mounting feelings of isolation, confusion and anguish. To combat this, Venture Arts is developing new methods of reaching out to all of its participants, keeping them focused on creating art at home and connected to staff, volunteers and each other. The charity is urgently in need of equipment and materials to deliver this new way of working for as long as it takes, and has launched an urgent fundraising appeal.

The Venture Arts team is preparing creative projects for all its artists, and sending art materials to their homes. These cover most of the media normally offered in the studio such as illustration, photography, moving image, animation, textiles, ceramics, 3D and paper art and multimedia. Using online software, participants and tutors are connecting via face-to-face learning sessions and chats. The charity doesn’t have nearly enough iPads to do this or enough art materials to keep this level of vital support going for as long as it takes.

Where video isn’t possible, tutors are speaking to participants on the phone. Keeping participants buoyed in these ways is crucial both for their mental wellbeing and for the morale or their parents and carers too. The team is also providing remote social activities for participants to enable them to keep in touch with their Venture Arts friends during this time.

Chris Brown, mum of participant Josh said: “This is a life line for my son during this uncertain time. He has been very disoriented by recent events and Venture Arts maintaining contact with him though this package of work will be invaluable to him.”

Venture Arts Director said: “These are very difficult times for everybody as we adjust to new ways of living, working, coping and supporting each other. For our learning disabled people, the disorientation is intensified. We are already hearing about their distress as they struggle to come to terms with the disruption. Our art studio is normally such a joyful hub of creativity, social interaction and fun. Its temporary closure during this national crisis has left a big gap in our participants’ lives. All of us at Venture Arts are determined to fill it with different but equally fulfilling ways of making art. We may be working remotely but we are going to keep our Venture Arts ‘family’ together with the help of our supporters and friends via our Emergency Appeal to raise crucial funds for equipment and materials. If you are able, please donate what you can via our website at