Cocreate Arts & Health CIC is the brainchild of Artist Jennyanne Smith. Created in 2019 we are a ‘not for profit’ organisation that exists in order to support underrepresented artists, creatives and people in general – such as those from BAME communities, areas of high socioeconomic depravation, those with hidden/ mental illnesses or anyone else who faces ableism in some way in their day to day lives.
Jennyanne knows from personal experience that engaging with the arts and creativity helps to bring meaning and fulfilment to peoples lives. She is open about her own struggles with her mental health and the powerful part that creating her own work and facilitating the learning of others has played within her life. She is quite happy to state that being fortunate enough to have made a career facilitating learning through the arts – 100% is the reason that she is still alive today.
“I first contemplated suicide at 10 years old, my grandfather was a sign writer by day and a self taught photorealist painter by night. He spent his whole life dreaming of being an artist. When he died – it left a huge hole in my heart and the experience greatly influenced me, he is the reason I desperately wanted to be an artist even though I had no natural talents or skills whatsoever and his death has featured in my own work on more than one occasion “Jennyanne Smith, Director, Cocreate Arts & Health CIC
It was memories of her grandfather that inspired her to be an artist even though she had ‘no natural talent’. It was this lack of ‘natural talent’ however that enabled Jennyanne to go on to become a great advocate of how art IS for everyone and she has spent the past ten years showing others that if SHE could learn to draw (at the age of 25 with two degrees in art under her belt already!!) that anyone can.
Memories of the impact of her grandfather dying upon her own mental health also inspired Jennyanne to work with children to build their resilience and mental stamina via art, mindfulness, meditation and yoga and she has spent the past ten years working with all age groups – from toddlers through to teens, young adults and those in their later years too.
“adults oftentimes have this misperception that children do not ‘understand’ things the way that they do, but they are wrong – children – Just like adults need coping mechanisms, strategies and ways of bringing fun and meaning into their lives as often as possible and Art, creativity and empathetic people who treat them like equals can do this!”Jennyanne Smith, Director Cocreate Arts & Health CIC
Cocreate Arts & Health CIC is here primarily to support people who face barriers because of the ableism that is ever present within the capitalist patriarchal society that we currently live within. Not all of us were cut out to succeed in this sort of world – and we are here to ensure that we do in one way or another!
At Cocreate Arts & Health CIC we have decided to redefine what ‘success’ can mean, we support people to create projects, make and exhibit their work, use their voice and co-create some lasting memories and a sense of achievement.
Having spent most of her life struggling with her own value, self worth and place in the world due to extremely debilitating recurrent depressive episodes Jennyanne understands what life can be like within an ableist world.
Before I completed the Hoffman Process in 2017 – I lived with a massive chip on my shoulder, however after taking part in this highly transformative programme and then finally getting my Bipolar Disorder diagnosed a year later at 35 – I was given a new lease of life. Yes, I still experience extremely bleak depressive episodes however now – I don’t give myself such a hard time for them or for my failings and I think its that self belief and support that many of us are missing. Sometimes we just need someone else to believe in us or give us a lift up too you know?Jennyanne Smith, Director Cocreate Arts & Health.
Cocreate Arts & Health CIC is Jennyanne’s way of giving something back. Living with the stigma of a mental illness can for many be a huge barrier to living a ‘successful’ life. Engaging in art and creativity – Jennyanne truly believes are part of what makes a life successful. “These things help us share our stories, re-author them, find others to whom we can relate, make sense of our lives and the world we live in or simply ‘tune out’ and engage in something different once in a while!”
Life is hard – no matter who you are or where you have come from and the arts, culture and creativity – well, these things can and do help to make it all worth living and as such they should NOT just be available for the privileged few. This is why all of our paid for workshops include at least two bursary places for un/low waged people, people from underrepresented groups or anyone else who faces ableism in their day to day lives.
Once I recognised my privilege as a white, cis gendered, university educated woman who has had access to some of the finest private health care and personal development programmes in the world and who has a highly supportive network of friends, family and colleagues all around me – I knew I could no longer NOT be running Cocreate Arts & Health CIC.
Even if depression does keep coming to get me – I’m going to be ready for it – and Cocreate Arts & Health CIC is enabling me to do that.Jennyanne Smith, Director Cocreate Arts & Health CIC
Jennyanne has made it her mission in life to inspire and support both herself and others to reach for and achieve our dreams and she thanks you wholeheartedly for helping that to happen to in whatever way that you can!
What we do
We provide high quality paid for workshops and projects such as Sculpture Masterclasses – these help to fund Cocreate Arts & Health CIC and we provide free bursary places on all of them.
We support artists and creatives to create and exhibit their work – showcasing their talents and voices regardless of privilege or educational background
We work together with artists and creatives who are generally underrepresented in participation and create projects and workshops enabling people to do the work that they love and get paid for it!