An Lanntair invests in new arts activities for families

  • Published on: 13th October 2020
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There are many things An Lanntair arts centre is unable to do at present due to coronavirus restrictions. The stage is dark; there is no music, no dance, no theatre, nor stand-up comedy. However, all this does not equal time to sit back and relax at An Lanntair. Far from it. In fact, the arts centre team is still super busy focusing on everything it can do, and right now that means working hard to support the local island community with a vast range of exciting and inspiring arts education opportunities for children and families.

To date, over 400 creative sessions for children and families have been held in community venues across Lewis and Harris since An Lanntair’s Full Circle project started in November 2018 – adding to the charity’s weekly Art Labs for young people, run in Uig, Tarbert, Brager, Lionel and Stornoway over the past three years.

These popular activities are now set to renew, restart, and grow even more, as An Lanntair invests in and welcomes new staff members into its Education and Outreach team, and starts a range of ‘Stepping Stones’ children and family workshops this autumn.

Removing barriers to accessing the arts, Full Circle delivered a programme of regular, free, high-quality arts engagement activities, funded by the Aspiring Communities Fund, with support from the European Social Fund; and has worked specifically with parents facing multiple disadvantages through Action for Children and Community Learning Development.

Moira Macdonald, Full Circle Project Manager, expanded: “Over the first 18 months of the Full Circle project, Arts Workers Moira Maclean, Ruth O’Dell, Christine Richings and Heather Moger led creative sessions in community venues all over Lewis and Harris.

“Parents and grandparents in every venue got on board with the ethos of the project and joined in being creative with their child. The children had new experiences of making, playing and music; and importantly, the families got inspiration for incorporating creativity at home.”

Indeed, in a recent survey, 94% of families agreed that Full Circle activities gave them ideas to do at home; with 91% saying Full Circle gave them the opportunity to be creative with their child.

“It really helped my children explore painting in a way we don’t get to at home,” said one parent. “They were free to create whatever they wanted in a safe and varied environment.”

Another commented: “I have learned to stop worrying about my children behaving perfectly and just let them have fun and be creative. I have learned so much patience and new ways of communicating with them.”

A total of 98% survey respondents felt that Full Circle activities were suitable for their child’s age and development, as one said: “The music classes are the most wonderful thing! My eight-month lights up with the music and my three-year-old goes wild.”

And 100% of those surveyed said that the Full Circle Arts Workers welcomed and made them feel comfortable when attending; thanks to the hard work and dedication of An Lanntair Arts Workers Moira Maclean, Ruth O’Dell, Christine Richings and Heather Moger.

An Lanntair is delighted therefore to announce that it is investing once again in its Education and Outreach team as, with support from the fifth round of the Aspiring Communities Fund, the arts centre launches its new ‘Stepping Stones’ programme and has recruited three new team members to support its delivery.

Soon to join the Arts Workers are performer and theatre-maker Catriona Hill; multimedia artist Robbie Thomson, and sound and moving image artist Alicia Matthews. Together they will work with An Lanntair’s Education and Outreach team to provide free-to-access, inspiring creative opportunities for children, lone-parent and low-income families and young people throughout Lewis and Harris.

COVID-restrictions allowing, Stepping Stones is set to deliver a series of fun workshops in a range of artforms to keep children and young people entertained during school holidays and at weekends – beginning with ‘Boo!’, spooky themed activities for the October hols.

Weekly ‘Family Music’ and new ‘Dance and Movement’ sessions for pre-school children and their parent or carer are to take place in community venues and online; with weekly ‘Creative Play’ and ‘Mini-Make’ sessions again happening in An Lanntair.

The arts centre is re-opening its ‘Art Labs’ – creative studio spaces for young people in various venues in Lewis and Harris – and the weekly ‘Film Lab’ workshops return, delivering specialist tuition in film and documentary making to young islanders.

An Lanntair’s Education and Outreach team continues its multi artform activities with Nurseries and Sgoil Araich, starting with the delivery of ‘BirdBox’, a themed resource box full of books, musical instruments, art materials and puppets, accompanied by activity ideas, songs and videos.

And a wealth of online resources are also available at – including a new online Creative Play initiative for young families to enjoy over winter – as the team keep adding to An Lanntair’s downloadable resources and creative videos.

The importance of An Lanntair’s outreach work came to the fore earlier this year as the UK COVID-19 Lockdown put an abrupt stop to many family routines and social activities. In response, the charity’s Arts Workers produced a number of online activities and resources to help all through a difficult and unprecedented time.

“During the lockdown, many families struggled with isolation,” said Moira Macdonald. “And the resources which we shared maintained a sense of connection with the An Lanntair and Full Circle community.”

As well as offering online Drama, Art, and Dance workshops during lockdown, An Lanntair Arts Workers also produced the Merry-Go-Round booklet, including songs and music making activities; Family Music online videos, and a series of Creative Activity worksheets.

The downloadable Hebridean Handbook – created and beautifully illustrated by Lewis artist and teacher Alice Macmillan – proved extremely popular; and in a bid to ease pressures, An Lanntair also provided Free Family Art Packs, with art supplies sent to pre-school and primary-age children, as well as delivering a selection of art materials to children at Hillcrest, the local Children’s Home run by Action for Children.

Now hoping to help return a sense of ‘normal’, An Lanntair and the Arts Worker team are set to welcome all back as the ‘Stepping Stones’ project begins its activities later this month. For full details, please visit