Described by BBC reporter and artist Adebanji Alade as “art that heals the heart,” it’s easy to see why there are long waiting lists for the creative art workshops run by Beth Morris. Because here in the heart of the Welsh capital friendships are formed, and a community is being healed through art.
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Beth Morris Workshops was set up in 2017 by former senior fashion lecturer Beth who had a vision to bring together everyone, young and old, through community art. Fast forward two years and Beth has been featured on The One Show, the demand for places has exploded, and the business has grown significantly. The workshops are now so popular that Beth has recruited three new tutors and regularly invites guest teachers to deliver extra sessions. And it is online technology and dedicated social media that helped her achieve it.
“I used Facebook to promote the workshops, and this worked brilliantly to spark interest and draw people in”
Beth said: “I started off running just a few workshops. I was immediately aware that most of the adults who attended the classes were unable to work for some reason, either because they were retired or due to particular health issues, and many of them felt lonely. Even in a busy city like Cardiff, people can still feel isolated. It made me determined to do more and I wanted to create a real community, where people felt a part of something. I used Facebook to promote the workshops, and this worked brilliantly to spark interest and draw people in. Once they joined, people kept coming back because they made genuine friendships, and that along with having the chance to be more creative is so important to improving mental wellbeing and reducing loneliness.
“The Silver Linings Charity heard about my workshops and invited me to run creative art and craft sessions for adults living with a brain injury. I now run free weekly sessions in conjunction with the charity, supported by local businesses, using creativity to help with rehabilitation and provide a place where they can meet socially with others in similar circumstances.
“I needed to turn my creative focus on to how to use tech to further promote the business and bring people together.”
“I wrote to The One Show and was amazed when they featured my community art school on the programme. But these things can be short-lived, and I knew I needed help to maximise the exposure. At the time we’d been running for 12 months and doing okay but I wanted to grow the business. This is when we realised that I needed to turn my creative focus on to how to use tech to further promote the business and bring people together.”
Beth approached Superfast Business Wales for help and says the catalyst for her success was the support she received from her Superfast Business Wales mentor, Shawn Cullen, whose advice she describes as ‘invaluable.’
“After I attended the free social media workshop run by Superfast Business Wales, I took advantage of follow-up 1-2-1 meetings, which were really eye opening. “Shawn, my business adviser, and I discussed that there are two parts to the company: the art workshops and Beth Morris the brand. So we put together a digital marketing strategy to really push the brand. Thanks to the help I have replicated that community feel online and have built up a digital audience which helps me reach new people."
“Shawn helped me to connect the dots between the online and offline world to use creativity to combat loneliness and improve wellbeing”
“Implementing the changes recommended by Superfast Business Wales means I can work on the business and increase the number of community-art based activities and projects such as with the Silver Linings Charity and Arts for Health and Wellbeing (Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board). Shawn helped me to connect the dots between the online and offline world to use creativity to combat loneliness and improve wellbeing.”
Beth’s now looking at adding an online booking system to her website to manage the influx of bookings and reduce the admin burden to free up more time for her to spend with her family. “I have three daughters and it’s important to me that the business works around my family,” she said. “Sometimes I need to work remotely and reducing time spent on admin and promoting my art school helps me accomplish that.
“I love teaching, but I realise I can’t do it all. For the community, I would like to recruit more tutors as well as increase guest workshops by specialist artists.
“So, in my third year of business I will be collaborating with some well-known creators, artists and influencers, many of whom I have built connections with via social media. I understand the power of my online art community and will be nurturing these relationships to improve the brand and reach more people who can benefit from creative wellbeing.”