Shetland Arts have been nominated for the Achates Regional Showcase, researched and developed by Achates Philanthropy Prize Ambassadors. Together they offer a unique snapshot of the myriad inspiring ways in which cultural organisations have worked with their communities and how their communities have responded to this work during an extraordinary year.

Shetland Arts were nominated for their Arts at Home project. In response to the Coronavirus pandemic, Shetland Arts created a programme of activity, both physical and digital, to be delivered through Shetland’s residential care homes and Adult Services, fostering connections across the local community. The programme had two key objectives:

1) to connect to participants and community members through the arts, particularly those most isolated, by providing high quality and accessible digital content and arts activity packs to each care home in Shetland;

2) to provide support and work for freelance artists, many of whom lost work and income due to Covid-19.

Arts activity packs were sent in June to care homes along with links to instructional videos to support participation of the crafting activities. Additionally, a series of digital activities were provided, some of which were videos, some of which were audio-only. Hardware and software was also offered to care homes to support with participation. Shetland Arts worked with artists to make the content relevant to the Shetland community. Films were recorded outdoors with local scenery in the background where possible, and content included local words, and references to local memories and places to help encourage connection. The project was made more accessible by including seven recordings with content that did not require participants to look at a screen: two music meditation recordings and five recorded dialect poems.

Achates Philanthropy Foundation Chair, Caroline McCormick, said: “The 2020 Achates Philanthropy Prize shines a light into the role of the cultural sector at the darkest time for a generation. All of the nominations demonstrate how cultural organisations across the country have responded to the challenges of COVID-19, despite themselves being under threat. Our one-day conference - Art, Audiences, Money - will create a moment for us all to take breath and to consider the road forward from here, where our destination should be and what role culture can play in that journey. We can’t raise the voices of all the remarkable talent across the country and the work that is being done but are very proud that we can give a brief glimpse into what culture can do.”

Photo: Sending out the Arts at Home packs (Jane Cockayne)