Read more about our projects past and present. If you’re interested in making a contribution, click here for our secure giving page on CAFdonate.
Lockdown art boxes for local children
NEWSFLASH! Charity trustee Ruth Whitehead has sponsored a virtual concert beamed out from from St Matthias Church to celebrate midsummer and raise money for our work THIS Friday June 26 at 8pm….find out how to watch here
Lockdown has intensified an existing need for creative resources among many families and we wanted to make sure that every child who wishes for crayons, paints, paper, colouring books, modelling clay and games at home to fire their imaginations and continue their schoolwork can have that opportunity.
We have donated almost 250 art packs to children at St Matthias School, and also many refugee families who cannot access any of the normal safety nets in our society. Akwaaba is a social centre in Hackney supporting families who are often moved around between temporary accommodation, and schools.
All the children of the 70 Akwaaba families are from BAME backgrounds, most are of primary school age and were born in London but due to their parents’ immigration status are unable to access welfare, facing poverty and destitution as a result.
Our charity has already worked with the Akwaaba children as part of our I am…We are portrait exhibition (see below), and have seen first hand how they benefit from the continuity of weekly art sessions and come alive in the creative workshops. We also became aware that they have very few resources at home: even a few colour pencils to take home were treasured.
Says charity chair Nicolas Johnson: “We are determined to raise enough money so each child receives an art pack which means they can be creative at home, complete school work and see them through the long summer holidays when they will continue to be very isolated.”
Say a spokesperson for Akwaaba: “The art packs contribute to the wellbeing of children by enabling them to continue their schoolwork, and also of their families who can share their activities. They can also join with other families in our online creative sessions, improving mental health and reducing their sense of isolation, not to mention taking the pressure for activities off parents.”
See what the Hackney Gazette is saying
Local artist Victoria Francis has hand-sewn bags for the Akwaaba art packs (below)
I am....We are...
Art Event on the theme I AM…WE ARE…
We involved local artists, schoolchildren, refugees, and older residents in art workshops, culminating in an exhibition on April 21 & 22 2018 at St Matthias Hall.
Anyone living, working or involved in a project in N16 was invited to submit a portrait. Dissenters Arts N16 sponsored Portrait Workshops at Akwaaba Migrants’ Project based at Princess May School on Sundays in February and March. We provided materials, volunteers to run the workshops and some of Akwaaba’s running costs.
We raised £600 for the workshops, and then recruited volunteers to help set up and host the resulting exhibition, which attracted loads of visitors.
Young Dissenters youth choir
We are delighted to be funding the relaunch of Young Dissenters youth choir under the leadership of local musician and composer James Moriarty. The choir meets on Mondays at 4.30pm at St Matthias Hall, costs £10 per term, and everyone is welcome.
Young Dissenters offers a fantastic experience of singing a range of repertoire, learning with others and in a variety of parts. They will be performing in their own concerts as well as with adult community choir Chorus of Dissent. More details
See Three-schools choral project below for more details of what Young Dissenters have been getting up to.
Arts and dance scholarships
We supported ten pupils from St Matthias School who wished to join the very popular Young Artists Club and Joel Morris Ballet Academy after school at St Matthias School for a year from September 2017.
Under qualified teacher Julia Deering, YA offered drawing, painting, printing, sculpting, collage, clay-work and photograph. She encouraged individual creativity and developed pupils’ motor, emotional and social, collaborative and observational skills.
The establishment of the Joel Morris Ballet Academy in St Matthias Hall gave us the chance to make dance accessible to local primary age children who would not otherwise have had the opportunity.
Three-schools choral project
We sponsored Young Dissenters Choir conductor James Moriarty to take his Young Dissenters work out into the community by running a large-scale singing and songwriting project in a number of local schools in 2018-2019. These culminated in a concert by Year 4 children from three local primary schools – Betty Layward, Grasmere and William Patten.
We funded singing workshops over six weeks with the children working on songs bound by common themes of peace, love and freedom. Each school also created a new song as part of the project. The concert at in April 2019 saw St Matthias Church packed to busting with parents, carers and school staff revelling in the special joy of singing and how it can bring us together and help us to share ourselves.
We received very positive feedback on the workshops and concert from the parents, carers, children and their teachers.
Through Young Dissenters, we are committed to continuing this work in order to support wider participation amongst local youth.
Developing projects 2020
We continue to look for other opportunities to engage the community in the arts including
- continuing the Young Dissenters in-school projects, offering other local schools the opportunity to sing in St Matthias and with the Chorus of Dissent and the Elastic Band orchestra
- continuing funding after-school clubs and activities for children who would otherwise not have the opportunity
- looking for volunteers to frame, develop and run a local history project involving oral history and musical memories which would be shared with the community and become a permanent record
looking for opportunities to work with secondary school children through partnering an existing organisation and supporting music and dance
- investigating whether we could look develop a project around theatre for young people
- funding the production of a pamphlet on the cultural history of Stokey’s only Grade I-listed building St Matthias Church since its opening in 1853 – its rich musical tradition (prolific hymn writer WH Monk was organist and choirmaster and wrote Abide With Me here), the notable organ, stained glass windows by famed artist Frederick J Cole, and and other architectural features of this famous Butterfield church. This will be available to everyone using the church so they can engage with the cultural dimension of the venue.
Watch this space for news on these projects this year, or contact us if you can help with their development.
Join our mailing list
Please join our mailing list so that we can keep you informed about how our projects are progressing. Thank you.