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McManus galleries host dance party to beat lockdown isolation

The McManus held a celebration event to mark the finale of their Reconnect project.
The McManus held a celebration event to mark the finale of their Reconnect project. Kim Cessford / DCT Media.

Families across Dundee danced their way out of isolation as they celebrated the end of lockdown.

McManus Galleries hosted a dance party in Baxter Park on Wednesday to mark the end of online classes for those struggling alone at home.

As part of the Reconnect programme, families celebrated together with arts and crafts, fancy dress and a dance party hosted by Shaper/Caper.

The eight month long programme worked with three charities across the city to help vulnerable people and families get through lockdown.

Youngsters and parents enjoy the interactive antics of 'Shaper / Caper'.
Youngsters and parents enjoy the interactive antics of ‘Shaper / Caper’. Kim Cessford / DCT Media.

At a dance party, families working with Homestart Dundee finally blew off some steam, while finally getting to meet people they had only connected with digitally for the first time.

One participant said: “Being part of the programme has given me a push to leave the house and interact with the world and begin to see the beauty of life again.

“The sense of accomplishment each week, completing a series of photos had a huge benefit to my well being. It was definitely was a boost to my self esteem.”

Eight month programme

Cheryl McDermid, the project lead, said it had been an incredible end to the project.

“Today was brilliant!” Cheryl said.

“We had a mix of events – people doing arts and crafts and a dance party with Shaper/Caper.  There was a lot of dress up going on – just a really fun time.”

The project, which has been running since January, worked with Alzheimer Scotland, Homestart Dundee and Tayside Healthcare Arts Trust.

They delivered 34 online classes to battle isolation during the most recent lockdown.

Homestart participants blew off steam at the dance party.
Homestart participants blew off steam at the dance party. Kim Cessford / DCT Media.

“It’s just been fantastic to deliver,” Cheryl said.

“It allowed the museum to connect with people while its doors were closed.

“We wanted to use it as a tool to make people feel happy again, when they were scared or nervous during the pandemic.

“So we were really aware that people were struggling with lots of different things during lockdown.

“We picked the three groups who really felt the need to connect with the museum, art and culture.

“So we wanted to use the museum as a starting point to deliver positive health benefits and reach people across the city.”

The programme has been running for eight months. Kim Cessford / DCT Media.

Working with vulnerable people

While working with Alzheimer Scotland, the gallery carried out digital reminiscence sessions, where participants created memory journals, highlighting what they remembered and loved best about the city.

The Tayside Healthcare Art Trust members took photography lessons, and were given tasks to capture across the city.

Since completing the programme, the group have created an online photography exhibition.

While with Homestart, Cheryl said: “They were very different.

“A lot of the families had been hit really badly financially by the pandemic and because of that, there is a mental strain.

“The kids were not able to get out or meet with each other.

The families enjoyed their day out. Kim Cessford / DCT Media.

“So we helped connect them by helping them to co-produce an activity book, as well as delivering art packs across the city.”

On Wednesday, the Homestart group came together to celebrate the end of the programme.

“It was just great fun,” Cheryl said.

“It’s the first time many of them had ever met. There was a real sense of community, although many in the group hadn’t met before.”

Cheryl said the programme, which was funded by Art Fund with additional funding from Tayside Healthcare Arts Trust, was such a success they hope to continue the project in the future.

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