Soft Touch Arts launch exhibition, featuring work from creative community projects supporting young people and families in New Parks Leicestershire charity, Soft Touch Arts, has launched their biggest exhibition yet, ‘New Parks Art’. The exhibition is a collaboration of work from two different projects that Soft Touch Arts has been undertaking in New Parks, over the past 5 years. Passionate about giving young people a chance, the Big Lottery funded BIG-UP New Parks programme ran from 2011 to 2016, focusing on some of the issues and needs identified by young people, adults and organisations on the estate. The aim of the BIG-UP programme was to deliver creative sessions in schools, community centres, youth clubs and on the streets of New Parks and Braunstone Frith. The project enabled the charity to work with different groups of people, using the arts to achieve a range of positive social outcomes and create progression routes for individual participants.
A young man who is a New Parks resident believes that the BIG-UP project really helped him to develop. “It has helped with my behaviour, I used to be bored and now I can do more things that help me calm down. I am controlling my anger now and I’m a bit more confident in myself – when I first met you guys I was dead shy, but now I’ve been doing events and talking to more people. I didn’t used to be good at school but now I want to do better so I can be a role model, and I want to learn different skills. My attitude always used to be ‘no’ but now I share more.” The second project which is featured in the exhibition is a 3 year collaboration project with New Parks Library, funded by Arts Council England. This programme has been running alongside BIG-UP and enabled Soft Touch Arts to work together with well-known local artists such as Paul Conneally, producing a variety of work that has been strongly conceptual. Sally Norman, Director and Founder of Soft Touch Arts is excited for the future projects that the charity are working on. “It feels quite strange that BIG-UP is coming to an end after 5 years of working in New Parks. However, we had a great end of programme festival in New Parks last Saturday and the good news is that we have an exciting new project that we will be unveiling shortly for young people in New Parks, Beaumont Leys, Stocking Farm and Mowmacre Hill. Meanwhile the library project has a further year to run.” The New Parks Art exhibition celebrates the end of the BIG-UP New Parks programme and features work from both projects, as they complement each other perfectly – BIG-UP using arts as a tool to address local issues, and the Arts Council funded library project producing great art and working alongside established artists. The exhibition is free to attend and is running from Tuesday 9th August until Tuesday 23rd August from 11am – 4pm at Soft Touch Arts on 50 New Walk Leicester, LE1 6TF.