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Community outreach and creative engagement: Introducing the Boredom Box

Joe Coleman, General Manager of Peacock Arts, shares how their initiative to battle boredom has taken root in the North East of Scotland.

Peacock & the worm is a printmaking workshop and art space that has been established in Aberdeen since the mid-1970s. As well as publishing artworks and providing a public access facility for printmakers and the wider creative population of the North East, Peacock also has a remit and a strong drive to provide community outreach and to give access to groups who may struggle to engage with the arts and creative activities through their circumstance.

When it was clear in early 2020 that there was going to be widespread disruption due to the pandemic and that physical access to spaces was no longer going to be possible, the team at Peacock, led by Ane Smith the Education and Community Coordinator at the time, quickly came up with the idea of ‘Boredom Boxes’ as a way to continue the engagements with the young people we were working with.

What’s in the box?

The boxes contain a range of high-quality art materials of all kinds and bespoke guidelines and instructions on how to use them. Those receiving the boxes can work through the activities we have provided or interpret the materials in any way they choose to make their own creations. As well as this we include information to encourage young people to get outdoors and explore nature, such as guides to the night sky and how to forage safely.

Working in partnership to keep it going

To get the project off the ground, the team worked fast in the initial week of the first lockdown so that young people were able to take part in artistic activities. From that initial conception the project grew and evolved and we began a partnership with Community Food Initiatives North East (CFINE) to help us with the delivery of the boxes to a growing number of recipient organisations. That partnership still stands now as we continue to run the project.

Although the boredom box project was conceived of as a response to the coronavirus pandemic, it became clear that there is a strong demand in the city for creative activities for those who have barriers in place preventing them from accessing artistic spaces and sessions. For this reason the Boredom Box project has outlasted the lockdowns that conceived it and still continues to grow and develop to fit the current needs within the city.

By working with our partner organisations, we have been able to consistently provide a high quality, engaging and inspiring resource to young people who have a variety of barriers in place to accessing creative activity and the benefits to wellbeing and mental health that come with that.

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About the author

Joe Coleman is General Manager of Peacock & the worm, an art space in the North East of Scotland

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