Holi: Festival of Colour

Cover image copyright: Glen Colliton, Solihull Photographic Society

The Core
Tektura wall coverings
Supported by:

Solihull MBC through Heart of England Community Foundation (19th March 2022) and Touchwood (20th March 2022)

Location:

The Core, Solihull (19th March 2022) and Touchwood, Solihull (20th March 2022)

Audience reached:

500+

Project summary:

The Holi 2022 event included a range of low-cost and free arts activities for members of the local community. This event was part of Art at the Heart CIC’s world culture programme. The strategic aims were cultural programming for diverse communities, improving wellbeing through the arts, diversifying audiences at The Core and increasing community cohesion by bringing different communities together in diverse cultural celebrations.

Impact:
  • Reduced barriers to participation in the arts
  • Families from various cultural backgrounds brought together
  • Volunteers contributed 238 hours to the local community 
  • 88 entries in the Holi art competition, which encouraged children to find out about other cultures
  • Attendees produced several community artworks 
  • Exhibition of community artworks which remained on display at The Courtyard Gallery for a month, bringing the cultural and heritage information to a wider audience
  • Positive feedback from participants
    • ‘Great fun for the kids’
    • ‘It’s so super duper fun making [a kaleidoscope] and now I know how to make one on my own so I can make it every day at home. Thank you so much!’
Social value:

Children gained experience of working together within their community to create communal artworks. Families were able to attend a cultural event together without barriers such as expensive tickets. Attendance at cultural events has long-term wellbeing benefits (NCBI, 2012), while participation in structured arts activities develops cognitive abilities such as problem solving and critical thinking, improving children’s long-term employability prospects (Cultural Learning Alliance, 2017).

Children who entered the art competition gained valuable experience of working to a brief and to a deadline, as well as getting to see their art on display in an exhibition, which brought self-esteem and confidence benefits. Volunteers gained experience in an arts organisation and developed useful skills that will benefit their long-term employment prospects, such as event preparation and planning, teamwork, and leading and facilitating arts activities. Art Club and ArtLab students also gained valuable work experience and portfolio-building for their Arts Awards. The local community benefited from 238 hours of donated time.

The event also encouraged a sense of environmental responsibility by recycling plastic and paper to create art. Reusable materials were incorporated into arts activities. For example, previous Splat Art workshops used single-use balloons to create paint bombs. In the Holi 2022 event, sponges were used for this activity, and these were then washed for reuse at other events. 

Community members working on the giant paisley mural at Touchwood
Holi 2022 (photo copyright: Bob Breach, Solihull Photographic Society)

Project details

Aims of the project:

The Holi 2022 event was part of Art at the Heart CIC’s world culture programme. The project’s aims were:

  • Improving wellbeing through the arts: the arts are a useful tool for improving individual wellbeing by providing opportunities for making friends and developing interpersonal skills (NHS, 2021). 
  • Diversifying audiences at The Core: theatres largely attract audiences from a white, middle-class background (The Guardian, 2014). Using cultural holidays to attract a diverse audience was a key aim.
  • Cultural programming for diverse communities: to reflect the diversity of the local community, Art at the Heart CIC programmes a range of events that draw from different cultures, bringing together families from a range of cultural backgrounds.
Holi 2022: Spring into Colour

The Core supported this event by providing a venue for the Holi event. Ticketed events were low-cost and there were various free, drop-in activities. As a result, the event reduced barriers to participation in the arts. 

Holi is an ancient Indian festival that celebrates spring, love and new life through vibrant colour. The arts activities allowed members of the community to come together and create new interpretations of Holi. Workshops included Splat Art, Bubble Art and a giant community colour weave. The traditional practice of throwing coloured powders to celebrate Holi inspired the art activities. They incorporated colour and vibrancy while allowing members of the local community to create new traditions together. The event was multigenerational. Ticketed workshops were for children, but parents and grandparents attended the event with them and were able to join in with the drop-in art activities. 

Activities had accessibility in mind: they were designed to be fun and engaging for everyone regardless of their level of art experience. In addition, sustainability was also a consideration for this event. Tektura Wallcoverings provided excess wallpaper for the creation of larger community artworks. Catering tubs from the Encore Caff were used for mixing and storing paints.

Project impact

Audience:
  • The event was cross-cultural and attracted a diverse audience. At least 60% of attendees were from ethnic minority backgrounds typically underrepresented in the arts (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport). 
  • Attendees created giant community artworks together, experiencing informal introductions to teamwork within their community.
  • Thanks to Art at the Heart’s partnership with Aston University and ETICC, attendees were introduced to innovations in using technology creatively.
  • The Mayor of Solihull attended, raising Art at the Heart’s profile to reach wider audiences so more people can experience the wellbeing benefits of art.
Exhibition Experience:
  • There were 88 entries in the Holi art competition, giving young people aged 5-18 experience of working to a brief and to a deadline, as well as showcasing their work in an exhibition in a gallery.
  • Students from Youth Arts and ArtLab also gained exhibition experience. This provides benefits for their self-esteem and confidence. 
  • Exhibitions also bring benefits for people who view them even if their art is not on display. Visiting art exhibitions and other cultural events is associated with better lower rates of depression and anxiety (NCBI, 2012).
  • Winners were announced and prizes were presented by the Mayor of Solihull. 
Volunteers:
  • 8 students from Birmingham City University gained 3 days of volunteering experience. In total they contributed 106 hours of time to the local community.
  • Art Club, ArtLab and Youth Arts students also benefited from work experience, gaining an insight into the work that arts organisations do. This contributed to portfolio-building for their Arts Awards. The youngest volunteer was just 10 years old – this encourages a volunteering spirit at an early age, which comes with mental wellbeing benefits (NHS 5 steps to mental wellbeing). These volunteers contributed 102 hours of time to the community. 
  • On Sunday at Touchwood a further 5 volunteers contributed 6 hours each to the community.
  • Overall across both days and all volunteers, 238 hours were contributed to the local community.
Volunteers setting up for Splat Art (photo copyright: Bob Breach, Solihull Photographic Society)
Attendees working on the giant community colour weave (photo copyright: Bob Breach, Solihull Photographic Society)

Participant feedback

Children:

‘I really liked [the bubble art]’ 

‘[Making a kaleidoscope] ] was very fun because I never did it before so it was new to me’ 

‘It’s so super duper fun making [a kaleidoscope] and now I know how to make one on my own so I can make it every day at home. Thank you so much!’

‘I liked the paint throwing’

Parents:

‘Great fun for the kids’

‘Lots of fun for the kids’