Publicans looking for new ways to increase engagement with people living in their local community, help connect people with others and keep customers entertained can take inspiration from a ‘Creative Community Boxes’ initiative that has been successfully trialled at a range of Welsh venues.
Creative Lives, www.creative-lives.org, the charity that champions community and volunteer-led creative activity, has seen self-led activity craft boxes become a hit with visitors at a range of venues, including a pub and library.
The craft boxes, which feature a range of materials and creative prompts, have been a success with lots of groups who are enjoying taking part in self-directed activities and using the creative prompts in the box to help inspire them for an activity if wanted.
Gareth Coles, Wales Director of Creative Lives, who has led the trial of the ‘Creative Community Boxes’, says: “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 at 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: “Another way of using a craft box is to have it available in the pub, perhaps located with board games and other self-led activities the pub offers, for people to open up and do an activity from, either on their own or with others, if wanted.”
Craft box contents ideas
These community craft boxes, devised by Creative Lives, feature materials such as basic drawing tools including paper, pens, charcoal and pastels, watercolour and acrylic paints, as well as origami materials, air drying clay (which has proven helpful for some people with arthritis) and weaving materials.
Also included are items for creating items that the crafter can gift, such as cards and bookmarks.
Publicans can find other ideas of resources to include in a box here: Craft resources for self-led groups | Creative Lives (creative-lives.org)
Craft materials exchange box
Another simple idea publicans could look at to help support creative groups that use their pub, or help customers who are crafters, is to offer a ‘Craft Exchange’ box. The idea is to encourage people to bring along to put in the box any unwanted arts and crafts materials which others can use for their creative projects, with the opportunity to takeaway something they need for their crafting in return, either when they drop things off for the box or in the future.
Publicans are being encouraged to use simple wooden or cardboard boxes to set-up a craft exchange.
Gareth says: “Many craft materials can be expensive to buy and people often have things leftover or unwanted from projects that other crafters can make good use of, so it makes sense and helps reduce waste to encourage more crafters to gift or exchange materials.”
He adds: “We have trialled craft exchange boxes in a library and it is working really well. For publicans the box, which doesn’t need to be very big, offers another way of highlighting that your pub is open to welcoming creative groups and also gives locals another reason to pop in to your pub.”
Find out more about Creative Lives ‘Pubs Welcoming Creativity’ campaign, which Pub is The Hub is supporting, including a range of useful resources for pubs looking to welcome more creative groups here: Pubs Welcoming Creativity – Toolkit | Creative Lives (creative-lives.org)