In the city of Exeter you may have heard whispers of a Magic Carpet. Although it is unlikely that you will come across Aladdin on Exeter’s Magic Carpet, what you will come across are some rather intriguing and interesting projects run by a local arts charity.
Magic Carpet is Exeter’s local arts-for-health charity and they work in all areas of the arts including painting, printing, photography, sculpture, ceramics, animation, film, music, drama, dance and environmental arts. The charity began in 1981 by a group of Exeter University students, who recognised a gap for provisions for vulnerable people in Exeter and began to put together a project to tackle this, which has now developed into its present form as a registered charity and has helped hundreds of local people through professionally delivered creative arts workshops and courses.
Hannah Mumby, Opportunities Worker at Magic Carpet, states that the projects provide “a safe and supportive space where people are able to discover hidden talents and strengths, and build their confidence in an encouraging environment”.
An example of one of the charity’s rather successful projects was ‘Moving On’ which was a three-year project, funded by the Big Lottery. It was based mainly at the Exeter Phoenix and consisted of five core groups, which ran every week, as well as ten one-off sessions, 28 short term courses and six Open College Network courses over the period January 2011 to June 2012.
The impact on the lives of people who participated in the project was extremely positive, as expressed by one of the participants:
“If there was no Moving On I wouldn’t be here now. I found it at a point in my life when I was at a very low ebb and didn’t want to be here… Things are 100% better: interaction with other people, I do new activities, get out more now, and I have new friendships and a support network. I’m emotionally better, so physically better - they interact with each other. My quality of life has gone up. I volunteer now at another charity, supporting other people.”
The charity continuously has projects on the go and in the pipeline for the local community. At the Hub on the Green, by Exeter Cathedral, the charity runs a weekly choir each Tuesday morning and a craft group every Friday, which are both open to everyone.
To see the results of Magic Carpet in action, there is an opportunity to hear the community choir at the Hub on the Green on 22 July. There will also be special guests, a raffle and refreshments available. Doors open at 7:10pm, starting at 7:30pm.
They also have a display of some of their participants' work at the Devon Open Studios in the Gloss Gallery in September.
Although Magic Carpet are unique in the opportunities and projects they offer the residents of Exeter, they do face a similar problem to most small charities, that although there is demand for the work that they do, funding is very limited, which makes it difficult for Magic Carpet to run projects without the necessary funds. Therefore they have decided to launch a Friends membership scheme, so they are able to continue to support vulnerable people for as long as possible. Membership will cost £20 a year, which is less than £1.70 per month.
If you would like to find out more about Magic Carpet or would like to be involved in future projects or know someone who would benefit from the projects that the charity run, visit www.magiccarpet-arts.org.uk