Far Apart but Close at Heart – Latin America

Community Arts Organisations have adapted their practices online to support the mental health of young people through COVID-19 pandemic.

Creativity and Mental Health

Project Overview

The arts and culture sector was hit hard by coronavirus all over the world, triggering mental distress particularly to young people. In Latin America, a region that accounts for 30% of all global cases of COVID-19, art-based organisations committed to social transformation, have shown to be quick to respond to these challenging times. They’ve adapted their programmes to online platforms to keep supporting young participants’  mental health and wellbeing remotely throughout this crisis.

“We could be far apart physically but remain close at heart.”

This was the moto driving five Latin American organisations that have reinvented themselves  amid coronavirus: Crear Vale La Pena (Buenos Aires, Argentina), Redes da Maré (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Fundación Nacional Batuta (Bogotá, Colombia), La Familia Ayara (Bogotá, Colombia) and Teatro La Plaza (Lima, Peru).

For decades, through creativity and specific art forms, these organisations have been enabling young people in vulnerable territories to explore and express problems and social realities, therefore playing a significant role in promoting mental health.  Coronavirus has  particularly challenged young people living in urban environments who might already face multiple stressors and risk factors for poor mental health, such as social isolation, poverty, displacement and violence.

Please, meet our partners

The 10-month research-project observed how these community-based organisations adapted their activities and explored how this change is experienced by art workers and participants. Furthermore, it built up research capacity within the organisations and straightened networking among these countries.

“As a result this project will lead to new knowledge that will help arts organisations and others like them, to respond to future emergencies so that they can seamlessly continue to support the mental health of young people, even through a global pandemic.”

Professor Paul Heritage

See below what the 30 young participants in Latin America have produced after six weeks of online workshops:

This project is a result of People’s Palace Projects strong links with these organisations, which are part of MRC-funded programme OLA, and an AHRC/ESRC project Building the Barricades.