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A group of our creative SIFA Fireside clients made the trip down to MAC (Midlands Arts Centre) for an exciting afternoon of exploring the centre and creating some of their own art too.

Digbeth-based charity and homeless support service, SIFA Fireside, works towards a vision that every adult in Birmingham can live a future without homelessness.

The term “homeless” can often be associated with provision of the most basic needs, however, we believe that in addition, activities surrounding personal expression, the arts and culture should not have to be a privilege. The challenges of homelessness should not be a barrier to leisure and community.

This enriching visit to MAC was overseen by our Social Networks Project Worker, Olivia Bruck (pictured here with SIFA Fireside Service Manager, Michael McMillan).

Olivia told us; 

“The best thing about the trips is that the clients get to experience something that is outside of their regular routine. They have the opportunity to go out into the community with a trusted group of people and are able to experience an activity that they may not have access to otherwise because of barriers like wellbeing, stigma, money or health. Accessing these activities should hopefully be easier with the support from myself and SIFA Fireside so that they have the confidence to then go out and get involved in community activities independently.”

MAC is a multifaceted creative hub and independent charity nestled in the natural beauty of Birmingham’s Cannon Hill Park. Exhibitions, film screenings, performances, workshops and cultural events take place throughout the week, allowing Birmingham’s art enthusiasts to sample from the wide array of offerings.

MAC’s Community Engagement Producers, who oversee successful events and initiatives such as “Culture Club”, where over 65s meet up to explore different artistic mediums, warmly welcomed staff and clients, mingling and providing interesting facts about the art centre’s features, productions and classes. 

As promised, SIFA Fireside clients were given a tour of the premises, with the first stop being the Outdoor Theatre. Community Engagement Producer, Julienne, explained how and where the acoustics varied due to the structure, as well as the previous events that had taken place there including plays and weddings. 

One client said they “enjoyed getting the chance to see it”, referring to the intimate and impressive amphitheatre that seats just over 400 people. 

During the tour, plenty of time was given to pause and fully engage with each area, like the textiles room, and “Made at MAC” ceramics exhibition, showcasing the work that had been skillfully created on-site. 

Another notable segment was the exhibition, “Leisure as Resistance” by Tatiana Wolska, which featured intricate biro pen drawings, abstract sculptures made from plastic and salvaged wood. A giant mural was, as explained by Julienne, painted free-hand on a wall using a step ladder and Wolska’s own unfiltered creativity.

The largest installation in the room was a space filled with activities curated with the community in mind. Tatiana Wolska values accessibility and sustainability in her practice, and in this case, encouraged her audience to participate in the artwork by contributing to the “swap shop” for clothes and seeds. Books were arranged in a reading corner next to a tea station, with music softly playing from speakers. The installation was dotted with warm lamps and indoor plants, creating a cosy space for everyone to enjoy. 

The second half of the visit was an art session in a comfortable room with materials provided for SIFA’s clients to draw, sketch and colour. Between bites of delicious cake and sips of tea, portraits, cartoons and even a beautiful origami crane were produced. A client mentioned enjoying this socialising aspect of the trip, where he could “meet others, new people”.

Olivia said; 

“I have learnt so much about clients in the role! I think the main thing would be the amount of drive that they have. Clients sometimes need support in accessing what they are passionate about but once they have this support, they are so driven and able to achieve whatever they put their mind to.”

We at SIFA Fireside are grateful to Midlands Arts Centre for this successful afternoon of creativity and art appreciation and look forward to having further incredible opportunities like these on offer for our clients experiencing and facing homelessness. Thank you.


Oseta Agboaye