Ideas from from Arts Volunteering

Below are Arts Volunteering projects undertaken by some of the Greater London Area Societies; you may find some ideas for projects in your own locale.

The Arts Society Harrow  We gave £300 to The Heath Robinson Museum in Pinner to continue to support the excellent Young Artists Academy.  Last year we gave £1000 to which was matched by GLA funding to set up this very successful project. It is aimed at talented young artists recommended by local schools, We are very pleased that all the regular members of the Academy passed their Arts Award (Discovery level), Trinity College London, and  were presented with their certificates at an Awards ceremony in April. Our secretary and myself attended the end of year presentation of certificates and we were most impressed by the high standard of work produced.  

We gave £500 to The Peter Hinkley Trust to help talented young musicians belonging to Harrow Young Musicians.  This is used to fund tuition for children from low income families and to purchase instruments.

We gave a donation of £200 to Harrow Shed to help fund their summer drama production.  This is the local organisation linked to the national 'ChickenShed Theatre'.

We gave £200 to Pinner Wood School to help fund a drama project for young children with special educational needs.

We gave £300 to Red Balloon , the charity to help children who are being bullied.  This was spent on an Arts based Activities.

We gave £500 to the Bentley Priory Museum to help fund a 'Remembrance' arts project for children  over the autumn 2018 half term.   

We gave a donation of £500 to the Michael Sobell Trust at Mount Vernon Hospital.   This money has been used for an Art Therapy programme for patients. 

 The Arts Society North Kent  ~   Arts Project Members of The Arts Society North Kent and the Greater London Area, together with children from Crofton School, met at Petts Wood Library for the opening of a new mural placed above the bookcases in the children’s area.  Under the guidance of illustrator Loretta Schauer, who donated her services, the children created figures such as a dog, a mermaid, grannie in a hairnet and a robot, against a colourful background showing scenes of the Petts Wood area. Ian F Payne, the Mayor of Bromley, opened the mural and talked to each of the children about what inspired them to create their figure.  “It was lovely to see the children’s faces as the Mayor spoke to them” said Sally Larner. The North Kent Society has also funded craft materials for groups of children to use at weekly sessions where they gather to illustrate the books they are reading. 

The Arts Society Hillingdon  ~  Hillingdon society, with a grant from the GLA, sponsored an Arts project at Pield Heath House School, Uxbridge.   This is a school for pupils with special needs.  Local artist Christine Smith worked with 8 students to create a mosaic depicting the school motto and logo for display on an exterior wall of the school.  The former mayor of Hillingdon, John Hensley, unveiled the mosaic. The project provided the students with the opportunity to work as a team, to experience using different skills and materials, and being encouraged to produce a work of art which all the other pupils as well as visitors to the school can see on a daily basis.

Societies from all over the country have encouraged students to submit works to the RBA (Royal Society of British Artists) to hang in the Mall Galleries is the work of the London Area 2016 prizewinner with her grandfather and her winning portrait of him.


For 3 years The Arts SocietySanderstead and the London Area have sponsored successful arts projects at Riddlesdown Collegiate; twenty-six Year 9 students took part in a three-day art project led by the professional artist Ben Senior in the Art Block at the school in May.  All three days were devoted to practical work. Ben Senior and Tracey McKeefry, Director of Art at Riddlesdown, wanted the students to have more time to make independent decisions under Ben’s guidance and put their own ideas into practice in preparation for the display of work on the final day. 

Society members, parents and school staff came to the celebration tea, when the students displayed their work and talked to the visitors about what they had achieved. Tracey commented that more staff come each year because the school appreciates more and more what is being achieved.  Tracey also said that she could see the students visibly “standing taller” as they talked to our members and received praise and recognition for their work. We consider the way our friendly, knowledgeable and socially skilled members come and talk to the students about their work to be one of the great strengths of this project. Yvonne Oatway kindly videoed part of the project, so we will have a record, including how Ben talks to the students; how they respond and what they achieve. We plan to show this to the whole Sanderstead society before a meeting, together with photographs

What the students think about the value of these workshops was highlighted by the fact that some students from a previous year's project, who had just taken their GCSE, chose to come and talk in public to every one present at the display of work about how they felt they had benefited from the workshops. There could be no higher praise.


The Arts Society Hillingdon ran an art competition with the theme of a local scene celebrating the 5oth Anniversary of the Borough. The project was successful--they received 53 entries for the 2 age groups – 8-11yrs and 12-16 yrs, all of a very good standard and they were able to choose 3 winners in each category. All entries were on display in Uxbridge Library for 2 weeks.

The prize giving, by the Mayor of Hillingdon, took place in the Library. Each winner received a certificate and prizes of £100 for First, £50 for Second and £25 for Third place in each group.

The display attracted a lot of interest and the Society received enquiries on its website.


The Arts Society Beckenham funded workshops for Year 6 children at Balgowan Primary School to learn about the art of illustration and the skills of line drawing with a visiting artist, Dr Pamela Smyth. At the Keeping Gallery they studied original sketches for Charles Keeping’s famous illustrated edition of “The Highwayman”, and in later sessions at the School composed new poems about a modern highwayman with their own black and white images of him .

At the Society’s lecture meeting some of the children presented an exhibition of the poems and artwork, and told how much they had learned from the project.


The Arts representative of Sanderstead set up 3 daylong projects for 10 year 9 students from Riddlesdown Collegiate at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, providing exciting, varied opportunities to develop their critical writing and practical art skills.

On the first day, Ben Senior, an artist and highly skilled teacher, used a carefully chosen selection of paintings, to teach the students many of the main features and techniques that they should look for in a painting. The students responded impressively to Ben’s questions and at the end of the day worked in pairs to write about a Gallery painting and present their findings.

Ben conducted the second and third workshops in carefully structured practical sessions, exploring painting methods of layering colours, scraping and combining paints with mediums to achieve new effects. On the final day the students learned new skills of linocut printmaking.The students agreed to help their teacher run an extra curricula linocut club back at the college to introduce this to more of their peers.

The project concluded with a presentation of work and celebration tea in the art studio at Dulwich Picture Gallery, whilst talking to parents and members about what they had done, thereby developing their ability to communicate about their work.


 The North Kent Society’s representative, Sally Larner says “ I was delighted to be able to work with a primary school in St Paul’s Cray, St Philomena’s" . The sculptress, Maggie Higginson suggested a “stained glass” window for a very cold looking main staircase. Maggie worked with children in all of the classes to create a nature themed window, which was opened by the local MP and covered by the local press. The children were represented by members of each of the classes and were able to show off all the work which had gone into the project to the society committee members”

St Philomena’s school can be justly proud of their work.


--see the grants page if you need a grant for such a worthwhile project---


The Arts Society Westminster sponsored 3 projects; firstly, an artist in residence, Safia El Dabi at Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee School. They created some very exciting art work out of a flexible material, which can be displayed in one of their playgrounds. The students in this school face a number of barriers to learning and cover a range of conditions that can limit their experiences. This project aims to inspire and engage with all, ensuring that everybody feels inclusive and enjoy its positive impact

At College Park School, a designated art teacher interacts with a group of students in years 10/11 in creating individual pieces of abstract art, by using various art methods and stylistic approaches. As part of the project and their learning objectives, Westminster DFAS sponsored an art workshop in Tate Britain to enable the students tobecome familiar of the work of international artists and take inspiration. As one of their working medium is paper, pupils also had a behind the scenes visit to the conservation studio of the Westminster City Archives to experience conservation of old collections and enjoy a short educational session about the history of paper.

This project consists of 12 large scale paintings. Prepared from students’ own boards and with the advice of their art teacher, they are presently working on the theme for each painting. The final compositions will be very reminiscent of abstract paintings, and will reflect each pupil's personal interest and cultural background.

At St. Marylebone School, the award will be spent towards equipment for the Terracotta and printmaking project. Art work for both projects will be exhibited within the school and in school’s website.


 The Arts Society Croydon through Janet Fairbrother’s good contacts, funded the making of a Phoenix mosaic in Kingsley Primary School. The school has nearly 1000 pupils and 57 languages are spoken.

Four small rooms in the school are for the use of the Inclusion Team of teachers who not only help with academic work but also with building children’s self esteem. The making of a mosaic was chosen so that all the pupils could get involved and be made to feel successful. Also, by helping, parents would get engaged with the school. A phoenix was chosen because it is a symbol of how things can change and a fresh start can be made.

This glorious mosaic, which is over six feet in height, is now on a wall outside the rooms where the children work. The rooms are now known as The Phoenix Suite.

In June the teachers arranged for a tea party for all the children and parents who were involved to celebrate the completion of the mosaic. A film of the construction of the mosaic was shown at the party. Incidentally, Janet was the first recipient of the Marsh award for her contribution to volunteering.


Wendy Thomson, representative for Greenwich, organised a series of presentations by Magic Lantern (a unique educational charity which helps children to look at art and visually explore a variety of subjects) to profoundly and less profoundly deaf children at Thomas Tallis Secondary School Deaf Centre.

Interactive workshops, using a slide projector and carefully chosen pictures, were organised in their classroom where famous paintings and sculptures were examined and discussed with the aid of a teacher using Sign Language. Profoundly deaf children live in a world of silence and often have major problems relating to their environment and other people. Helping them to look at and better understand art will enrich their lives and give them more confidence in expressing themselves. This was a great success and about 17 pupils with varying degrees of deafness were fascinated by the presentation and responded eagerly when encouraged to participate.

Some of their comments after the workshop were:

“Thank you for showing us the pictures and showing us how to draw…I liked Vincent Van Gogh… I liked the darkness with lights off.  It was exciting and I could see clearly.”              Yasmin Y10

 “Thank you.  I learned about Art.  I liked the darkness and the projector…”   Pedro Y8.

I liked the workshop.  I especially liked the picture of deaf artist.  It looked like magic.   He (the signer) was signing and you couldn’t see his face.”      Emanuelis Y8

The children were encouraged to paint their own portraits, which they did with much enthusiasm and confidence.

Several other Societies have also supported Magic Lantern, an organisation which takes art education into schools in a fun way.