Box clever: publicans running rural pubs in Wales invited to apply for free craft boxes to help locals get creative

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Pub is The Hub and Creative Lives are offering rural pubs in Wales the opportunity to get a free creative community box, full of art and drawing materials, to help encourage self-led creative activities in their pubs.

The boxes, which are being provided through funding from The Royal Countryside Fund, offer a good way for publicans looking for new ways to increase engagement with people living in their local area, as well as helping to connect people with others and keep customers entertained.

The craft boxes contain a variety of arts materials for drawing and painting, along with a selection of suggestions for creative activities for using them. The ideas are featured in Welsh and English, and a  range of activities included so that even absolute beginners can get started.

Having a box of activities that people can do themselves, rather than needing someone there to host sessions, is a simple and accessible way for pubs to put on creative activities at their pubs.

Self-led creative activities

Gareth Coles, Wales Director of Creative Lives, said: “The idea is that the box is there for groups or a couple of people to use without the need for someone being there each week to run a group or session. Publicans could look to encourage people along during a set-time each week to engage with crafts in the box. One group meeting in a pub saw success from meeting fortnightly at 11am for games, lunch and then craft box activities.”

He adds: “There are extensive proven benefits to communal participation in creative activities, including increased social connection, improved mood, physical and mental health.  Taking part in regular creative events is a wonderful way to develop new skills or rekindle an old artistic passion.”

This community craft boxes idea is based on a project Creative Lives ran in Cardiff, in pubs, libraries and community centres.  One participant said: “I think this is a brilliant idea, because it’s easier to talk when you’re all making something as the activity helps to drive conversations.”

Creative Lives found through the Cardiff project that the creative activities helped to reinvigorate venues and encourage more people to visit. In some cases, the artwork created was put on display, and one group organised a wonderful exhibition of their work.

Malcolm Harrison, Pub is The Hub’s regional advisor for Wales, said: “We are really excited about being able to offer pubs in Wales these fantastic craft boxes, which offer a simple way for publicans to help bring people together at the pub. It is exciting to see more pubs becoming creative hubs.”

A £25,000 grant from The Princes Countryside Fund has helped a number of rural pubs in Wales diversify their services. Projects include supporting an outdoor community events space at Tafarn Yr Heliwr in Nefyn, Gwynedd.


Ideas for using craft boxes in your pub

  • Have your craft box accessible to customers’ to encourage people in to do some crafting over a chat and a coffee.
  • If you have a selection of board games at your pub, you could locate your craft box alongside these as a self-led activity. If you run a regular games night, when not add craft activities from your box into the mix too.
  • Ensure people know the craft box is available by ensuring the box is displayed prominently at appropriate times, having table talkers/posters highlighting the box and doing social media posts about it, including featuring pictures of people enjoying activities from it.
  • Why not run a weekly ‘Crafternoon’ where locals are encouraged to come in and participate in some self-led crafting from the box materials and enjoy some tea and cake.
  • If you host a regular coffee morning or group, such as MeetUpMondays or a Chatty Cafe, then consider whether a community craft box could offer a simple way of offering fun new activities for the group.
  • Your community craft box could be used to gauge interest in hosting other creative activities at your pub, such as a weekly craft group, monthly workshops or repair cafe. 
  • Once your box is up and running you could look to run a craft swap around it (just having a box available for donations). Locals could be encouraged to recycle unwanted craft materials/tools which can be used to help keep the community craft box replenished or for crafters to make use of at home. 
  • Having the craft box at your pub may encourage creative groups to get in touch to see if you are open to them holding regular events at your pub.

If you are a Welsh pub that is interested in receiving a community craft box for your pub then contact by 30 April 2024.