Renowned on the London art scene for its vibrant and edgy output, The Gate in Shepherd’s Bush has been supporting people with learning disabilities to explore their creativity through music, art, fashion and performance for over 15 years.
With recent press coverage in both The Face magazine and the Guardian newspaper, the inclusive and free-thinking approach of The Gate has resulted in coveted invitations to participate in fashion and art exhibitions across London.
The centre also creates comedy content for its own YouTube channel, hosts a regular slot called ‘Gate Kicks’ on Resonance FM and is building a large following on Instagram (@54thegate).
How to keep your edge in lockdown
In response to lockdown, staff were quick to maintain contact with people who came to the centre, which includes people with learning disabilities in the area and people directly supported by Yarrow.
Manager, Arlo Yates explains:
“Our immediate concern was to make sure people who usually come to the centre were OK. Then we set about finding ways to stay connected so that people could continue to explore their creativity from the safety of their own homes. Staff rose to the challenge – phoning round to check in with people, delivering art packs in person and setting up Zoom groups. Getting Zoom started was difficult at first as many people either hadn’t used video conferencing before or didn’t have access to tech devices or wifi. Things are improving but people still need better digital access.”
New lockdown projects
Despite the impact of lockdown on the creative and performing arts, The Gate continues to generate innovative artistic content.
Echoing these virtual times, one group is developing a new virtual–reality role-play video game, while another team has contributed a major piece of lockdown-inspired art to a summer exhibition in Elephant and Castle. Meanwhile, The Gate radio stars are continuing to host ‘Quarantine Radio’ shows for Resonance FM via Zoom, which are also filmed and shared on YouTube.
With all these creative projects on the go, it’s safe to say The Gate didn’t lose its edge during lockdown.