Building meant lot to group’s members

October 29 2020

JOHN Osman should be thanked by the community for bringing to our attention the closing of the Somerset Skills and Learning (SS&L) building.

He stresses his concern for the loss of adult education provision and training opportunities in the area. It is a vital resource to other members of the community who also make use of the building.

Our group, the Society of Disabled Artists (SODA), were not informed of the closure until mid-September when we were asked to remove our group’s equipment from the room we used.

SODA has been using this facility for the past 20 years and as it’s one of only a few disabled accessible buildings in Wells, we will find it hard to replace it. We are not the only disabled art group who use this facility, there are two other art groups and a mental health provider who have all lost this vital resource.

Mr Osman also mentioned the fact that during this time many residents may have lost their jobs and need to retrain. There is also the pressing need to be aware of the state of people’s mental health and wellbeing at this time too.

Our group didn’t just come together to paint or draw, our members came as a part of their regular weekly schedule, to enjoy the company of others and learn new painting techniques through our regular tutorials.

SODA may only be a small group using a short period within the SS&L’s schedule, but it meant a lot to the group’s members. A massive loss, not only of the space we created art in, but the fact that this art was exhibited to the wider community.

The Cathedral, museum and The Bishop’s Palace have all shown our work in the past. This has given our members an enormous boast to their confidence and allowed them the opportunity to sell their artwork.

The importance of the exhibitions were to showcase the artwork, to enhance people’s awareness of the talents of disabled artists and to advertise our group’s existence.

The use of this space will impact heavily on the lives of our group’s members until we find a new place to work out of.

Diane Little
SODA SW representative