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Art and well-being cultivated at QUAD Derby

— July 2011

Associated media

Superheroes-themed BEM workshop for children facing disabilties. Courtesy QUAD Derby


In our July article, ‘A prescription for art’, Jenny Kingsley explores the relationship between art and well-being, which is now receiving greater attention than it has in many years.


As part of its wider participatory programme, the regional gallery QUAD Derby operates an extensive range of arts-based events, workshops and forums specifically targeting disadvantaged, marginalized and vulnerable individuals and community groups – from physically and mentally disabled children, to young mums, women living with HIV/AIDS, the unemployed, and the elderly.

The success of these initiatives is evidence of the transformative power of arts engagement, and the importance of access to the arts for all. Work can be very intensive, with programme leaders working closely with small groups over long periods, helping them to address and deal with the big issues in their lives through creative expression. Some participants become involved in large-scale events, working directly with artists in the creation of new and major pieces of work. Participants are supported to achieve their full potential: developing their creativity and talent, gaining key skills, and building self-confidence. 

QUAD hosts a variety of specialist groups aimed at children facing particular issues and disabilities, including BEM Club workshops for children with disabilities and special needs, and Q Club, catering for young people on the Autism Spectrum or with other behaviour-related disabilities. 

Launching eight years ago at Q Arts, which merged with Metro Cinema in 2008 to become QUAD, these groups have provided specific arts and craft-based workshops designed to suit participants’ abilities and foster their development and social inclusion. A series of BEM workshops around the theme of superheroes saw members design their own mask, belt and cape, later photographed in their costumes and digitally placed in a cityscape frieze, displayed to the public at QUAD. 

Making use of QUAD’s state-of-the-art facilities and equipment, Q Club workshop activities have included filmmaking, photography and comic-book design. Film projects have regularly been shown at the Co-Operative Young Filmmakers Festival and Oska Bright Film Festival. QUAD regularly showcases Q Club art work within their wider exhibitions and events programme: Q Club’s photographic work was included in Young FORMAT 09, and, most recently, Q Club’s projection-mapped series of moving image work was featured at Gleam, Derby’s first festival of light, which took place last autumn.

For more information see the QUAD website

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