Much-loved arts project hangs on despite funding dilemma

Liz Aldous with participants at the Open Arts project
Liz Aldous with participants at the Open Arts project

A life-changing arts programme in Luton has secured funding to stay open until February in its ongoing fight for survival.

Open Arts is run as part of the NHS SEPT’s mental health services and provides a creative outlet for people with mental health or social isolation issues.

A piece of art produced on the project

A piece of art produced on the project

The programme is led by Liz Aldous, a former occupational therapist turned art tutor.

Liz said: “It has been a hugely successful project that has engaged many people in our community.

“They have benefitted greatly from attending the groups, working with others and raising their confidence and self-esteem.”

Participants on the project have came from across Luton’s diverse ethnicities, with many Afro-Caribbeans, Poles and Ukranians taking part.

Liz said: “We were due to end in August last year, but there was an overwhelming response from members of the project who took action.

“They wrote to express their feelings. It showed a tremendous determination to save what they believe to be a valuable group.

“The executives we approached continue to be supportive of our project and the value it has in improving the wellbeing of the community in Luton.”

Future funding remains a key issue, but in the meantime both Liz and Open Arts have been nominated for the Best of Luton awards, held at Luton Hoo this Friday.

Liz said: “I am delighted to have been personally nominated as ‘Lutonian of the Year’. It really is very humbling, very lovely and totally unexpected!”

She added: “I am determined to keep this project going and I am proud to represent the group on Friday at the awards ceremony.”