Culver Square shopping centre, in the heart of Colchester has an active Corporate Social Responsibility strategy, with a clear objective to support and participate in the local community by engaging with local stakeholders in order to positively impact the environment, social needs and wellbeing of the community.
Annually the centre supports Mental Health Awareness Week and this year’s theme of ‘Nature and the environment’ had the centre team particularly excited.
The evidence is clear that access to nature is crucial for our mental health and millions of people re-discovered that during lockdowns this year.
The centre’s aim for the national week was to encourage the Colchester community to share in the natural world and experience the mental health benefits. They saw the week as an opportunity to open the community’s eyes to the power of nature.
The theme ‘Nature and the Environment’ inspired the centre team to create two community projects for Mental Health Awareness Week. The first was converting an empty unit into a pop up gallery called ‘Wild at Art’ that showcased art created by the Colchester community.
The second was an eye-catching willow sculpture installed in the centre, specifically designed with nature in mind. The structure takes the shape of two trees filled with beautiful butterflies, birds and insects.
The centre set the local community a challenge to express themselves by combining art and nature, with the exhibition being prepared ready to open from Monday 10th May, the start of Mental Health Awareness Week and remaining open for 6 weeks.
This aim of the collection was to inspire us all to explore our hidden creative talents.
Why Wild at Art?
On the first day on Mental Health Awareness week an eye-catching willow sculpture was installed in the central feature of Culver Square creating a focal point that visitors can take time out to enjoy.
Well known for being able to survive in very challenging conditions the willow sculpture gives hope for a better future as we emerge from the restraints of covid lockdown.
The intertwining branches envelope and cradle the tiny creatures within reminding us how important mother nature has been to our own wellbeing. Commissioned especially for the project and with nature in mind, the sculpture will continue to grow and support the campaign until October.
Using natural resources to create a piece of art that represents the awakening of the town and symbolises the brighter future ahead. The willow sculpture will remain in situ until 10th October 2021, which is World Mental Health Awareness Day, as a legacy to continually raise awareness.
The competition ran inviting the community to submit their art launched on the 12th April and ran until 4th May.
Any type of art was welcome, with the 3 main categories being:
A total of 70 entries were received at an extremely high standard of work. The artists ranged from as young as 3 years old to 70+!
There was a fantastic mix of entries including photographs, digital drawings, paintings and creative writing. There was even a recording reading of a poem – which can be heard here. All works of art where exhibited in the Wild at Art Gallery.
During Mental Health Awareness Week an expert panel of judges visited the gallery and selected their favourite pieces of art. The judges were Sally Shaw MBE – Director of Firstsite, Steve Mannix Executive Director of Mercury Theatre, James Callaghan Director at Blue Sky Printing and Sophie Beckford – Our Colchester BID Project Manager. Members of the public that visited the gallery were also invited to cast their vote for their favourite pieces in the gallery too.
It is an important part of Culver Square’s CSR strategy to work with charities throughout the year on both a national and local level. This campaign was no different.
Working with the Mental Health Foundation advice and tips on how to reconnect with nature we used on the website and social media channels.
Mid and North Essex Mind attend the exhibition during Mental Health Awareness Week to promote their services to people that visited the gallery.
|Encourage the Colchester community to reconnect with nature Attract 50 competition entries||70 entries received, 40% above the objective|
|Generate press coverage worth £500||£1,750 worth of coverage generate, 250% above the objective|
|Work in partnership with a mental health charity to raise awareness of the issues||Worked in partnership with 2 Mental Health charities|
|Attract 100 visitors to the gallery||320 people visited the gallery, 220% above the target|
|Drive visitors to the website with an increase of 5% Y0Y||+181.24% increase in website visitors YOY
+124.15% increase in website visitors WOW
|Increase social media engagement by 5%||+122% increase in engagements on social media
+53.4% increase in impressions on social media
|Remind the community that Culver Square cares|