Reacting & Adapting: A positive picture for Outline Arts

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In this blog series we’re catching up with entrepreneurs who are ‘Reacting & Adapting’ to make sure their business can survive and thrive through these unprecedented months. 

One business doing just that is Outline Arts, which has launched an online programme to help children and adults alike to unleash their inner artist and explore art as a tool to switch off and get creative through these difficult months.

We caught up with founder and freelance art educator, Jennie Keegan, to find out more…

Having come from a background in Art and Design coupled with Creative Education, Jennie’s passion lies in helping people of all ages to develop their creative confidence.

After years spent working in higher, further and community education settings, Jennie decided it was time to forge out on her own. And so, Outline Arts was born.

Jennie offers courses and workshops in Visual Communication, using techniques from drawing and illustration, to image making and storytelling.

Having just celebrated its second birthday, Outline Arts has already delivered a raft of successful projects for the likes of National Trust Formby, Tate Liverpool, Alder Hey and Aintree Hospitals, as well as for schools and festivals.

Outline Arts’ programme usually consists of Art Club for children ages 7-10 and 11-14, alongside monthly themed workshops, holiday art schools and pop-up collaborations – including the National Trust, Emma’s Wild Garden and Sunshine Sensory.

Not forgetting the adults, Outline Arts also runs monthly themed workshops and an ‘I Can’t Draw’ workshop.

As with many businesses, social distancing measures have meant that its no longer “business as usual”. But Jennie hasn’t let that stop her getting creative with clients.

She says: “My sessions are planned around experimenting with materials and techniques, encouraging exploration of ideas and confidence so you switch off, be creative and enjoy the session. This aim has not changed. It is the way I do it which has.”

Outline Arts can now be found running an Online Arts Club, posting daily creative art prompts on social media, with more exciting projects on the go to keep the community engaged.

Jennie tells us: “I was approached by Grow Liverpool and other Liverpool businesses to launch #streetgallery #frommywindow to encourage children (and adults!) to create artwork and share it in their window so people have something positive to look at if they are passing – inspired by the movement in Spain and Ireland.”

Last month Jennie also launched free 8-week Online Art Club for children and adults, which has been a resounding success.

Jennie says: “The idea is you have an art session every day of the ‘working week’. It’s completely flexible so you can do as much or as little as you like, when you like. Each Monday subscribers receive a video for that day’s session, along with a handout of resources for Tuesday to Friday. There are also research activities included so students can start to gain a wider understanding of artists, organisations and galleries.”

Jennie tells us that she initially set out with the aim of signing 20 people up to the programme, but there are now over 90 taking part.

The club has been so successful that the sessions might be here to stay as part of Outline Arts’ business growth moving forward.

Jennie says: “The Online Arts Club has had really great feedback and what’s more surprising is the parental engagement with the creative activities! My daily art prompts and creative responses have also been a hit, with people getting involved from as far afield as New York and some people even starting an art journal to record them in.”

“We’re now looking at how this could work in the future as it’s definitely something I want to do with things open up again. I’m taking this time to develop resources and courses online, reflect on my business.”

What’s more, Jennie has now been awarded a bursary from Curious Minds, which is Arts Council England’s Bridge Organisation for the North West, to develop her CPDL during this time and adjust her teaching in response to COVID-19.

hile it is no longer “business as usual” for Outline Arts, Jennie has successfully innovated to maintain engagement with her community and has been able to reach new audiences online.

We asked how Jennie has found the process of reacting and adapting to the current crisis, she says: “Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a tough, uncertain time and I have moments when the thought of the future scares me but focusing on my online courses, creating videos and positive social media content has been good for my business with my followers increasing by 15% for both Instagram and Facebook.

“But the most worthwhile thing has been the messages and e-mails I’ve received from students and parents sharing their enthusiasm and photos of their work.”

Jennie was able to tap in o business support at The Women’s Organisation, through the Enterprise Hub programme.

She says: “The support and advice I’ve had from the Women’s Organisation has been invaluable. They are positive, proactive, and forward thinking, especially in these uncertain times. Knowing you have the kind of support that you trust, which always has you and your business’ best interest at heart, is comforting and allows you to focus on your business more confidently.”

To find out more about Outline Arts you can visit www.outlinearts.co.uk or find them on social media on Instagram and Facebook.

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