In the Gnome

Printmaking with Inky Cuttlefish is one of the virtual classes people can enjoy with Gnome House
Printmaking with Inky Cuttlefish is one of the virtual classes people can enjoy with Gnome House

Anna Alcock and Mark Burton from Gnome House invite people to take part in a new online project

At the start of the pandemic Gnome House, a community arts centre in Blackhorse Lane, faced the same stark scenario as thousands of other organisations across the country that were suffering a sudden loss of income.

The lockdown was a crisis for Gnome House, but also for the many small charities and micro businesses that hire the building. They were also losing income, as well as the opportunity to engage with the hundreds of people that come to Gnome House every week.

It was at this point that Jane and Melissa, who run the Gnome House office, suggested we create a ‘virtual community centre’ and move our user group’s activities online. They envisaged building a new, online platform that would re-establish the many relationships and friendships that Gnome House has fostered since it opened five years ago. “There are a lot of people now isolated and lonely,” Jane and Melissa explained. “We can bring them back together by doing the activities they love.”

To kick-start the virtual community centre project, local councillors Grace Williams and Joe Lacey-Holland helped Gnome House win a ward forum grant. This was then followed by grants from Arts Council England and the National Lottery.

The virtual community centre has now been up and running since June. Each week residents can access a wide range of activities via the Gnome House website. Highlights include live cooking courses from The Fermentarium, African drumming classes from Mbilla Arts, art challenges created by Inky Cuttlefish Studios, exercise classes by HIIT E17, workshops from Stories and Supper, tots ballet from Mulberry School of Dance, Pilates with Meghan, yoga sessions from Walthamstow Youth Circus, concerts from E17 Jazz, and dance classes from Clare. There are also film screenings and art exhibitions to explore online.

This technological transition is exciting, but most importantly, Gnome House is ensuring local residents remain connected to their community.

Join in with the virtual community centre at Gnome House: