A Creative Awards Scheme has been launched by the mental health charity SANE and the Open College of the Arts (OCA), the distance learning arm of the University for the Creative Arts (UCA). The aim is to improve the quality of life of people with mental health problems, their families and carers, by helping them to pursue the visual arts.
The scheme will make grants available to individuals to enable them to engage in creative and educational activities such as taking an evening course in photography or creating a piece of art.
The scheme is open to anyone with a diagnosed mental health condition or anyone acting as a full-time carer to submit proposals for works of visual art.
The awards will range from £75 to £300 to cover or contribute to the cost of materials such as paints and frames, attending training courses, or supporting the provision of replacement care in the case of carers who apply.
Marjorie Wallace, Chief Executive of SANE said: “Exploring the relationship between art, mental illness, creativity and human experience is central to our ethos.
“There is no doubt in my mind that people who are mentally fragile can find hitherto undiscovered reserves of skill, talent and other creative resources which they can usually only harness if given encouragement and financial support to develop.”
Each applicant will need to send SANE a letter about themselves and how they would put to use any award; photographic or written examples of their previous work where applicable; and a letter from a mental health professional, giving their views on the suitability of the applicant.
OCA will be providing advice, guidance and members for the awards judging panel.
Will Woods, Principal of the Open College of the Arts, said: "We are proud to collaborate with SANE on the launch of this new scheme. Mental health affects all of us, be it sufferer or carer, and is particularly topical for students in higher education. As a provider of high-quality creative courses, we see the benefit accessing creativity can have, and we are confident that this scheme can have a real impact on people's lives."
One of the first beneficiaries of this scheme was Anthony Cleyndert, now an accomplished artist working in oil painting, printmaking and stained glass.
Anthony lives with schizophrenia, and the grant helped him attend a course at St Martin's College of Art and Design in London. He has become a regular exhibitor and was commissioned to design a dramatic stained glass window for SANE’s research centre in Oxford.
He said: “When I became ill I thought the world was inaccessible and fragmented. My art carries me through my illness and SANE has been both my inspiration and safe haven. No one’s life is wasted however bad, sick or unhappy they are.”
Anyone wanting to apply should complete an application form downloadable from www.sane.org.uk and return it to Thomas Andrews by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to Thomas Andrews, SANE, St Mark’s Studios, 14 Chillingworth Road, London, N7 8QJ.
The first window of applications is open until Wednesday, 10 July.