Dear Friends and Supporters!

It is with conviction and steadfastness that we would like to announce our Covid-19 update from Open Source Arts.

With immediate effect we are closing the Open Source Arts building and will continue all our activities, meetings, staff time and as many of our activities as possible online via videoconferencing using Zoom. The building will be closed for the next two weeks, and we will review this regularly seeing what is emerging as to when to reopen.

The reasons for this are many. On Wednesday the WHO declared the Covid-19 outbreak was a pandemic, whilst also saying “There has never been a pandemic we have been able to control”. The nature of the spread of the virus is determined and chaotic, and in all countries so far the, number of cases has risen exponentially every day until strict lockdown was introduced.

The spread in the UK is exhibiting the same exponential trend, yet the government continues to exercise only moderate restrictions on movement. We believe this is not sufficient to prevent unnecessary infection and needless deaths.

From our research and watching of the unfolding of the situation in other countries, we firmly believe that the UK will soon also go into lockdown, and we thing that every day of delay means increasing the rate of infection and the potential loss of life.

This is not a drill, it is a pandemic, and the WHO have never stated a pandemic was active, if they were not sure, and they have never stated a pandemic which they were able to control. This virus is now uncontrollable and we need immediate and decisive action to prevent the spread and as the government is not taking it seriously, we must exercise whatever personal leadership we have as the leaders of community organisations, third sector bodies and our families to exercise pragmatic social distancing NOW, for the express purpose of saving lives.

We believe that it is our responsibility as personal leaders and leaders in our community to take action now to prevent further death and illness, and we have therefore decided to close our doors and use every ounce of creativity and technology to continue the scheduled team working time, and scheduled activities online.

We apologise deeply to our team and our workshop leaders who we have not had the opportunity to speak with directly yet, regarding the reasons for and practicalities of this closure, we understand the impacts which this will have on all the people who gain support from open source arts, either in the community and attendance of the events we organise, or through working here and gaining income from their time working.

We want to assure you that our core team are still required and will still be paid for their time spent working online and digitally (We have lots of projects not tied to the building which need your support and development) and we also want to try and find innovative ways for our workshop leaders to continue to connect with their class participant through online tools and remote working environments like Zoom and YouTube.

For everybody who leads workshops or has events coming up at Open Source Arts, we would like to invite you to join a Zoom call so we can check in about these short term actions, and help understand what impact they have on you and how we can work with you to make this less impactful and easier to weather. Please join us on the zoom link below at 11.45am this Friday 13th March.

This starts with a rearrangement of the scheduled workshop from Lucy Hopkins this weekend, which will now be a connection call on the Saturday followed by a 2 hour online clowning experimental workshop lead by Lucy on the Sunday – we will email participants directly about this, however please contact us directly if you are involved in this and want more details.

This is a great opportunity to support each other and continue to do great work in spite of adversity – and there are many opportunities to connect, please watch this space.

We are also eager to use our experience with mobilising volunteers during the flooding of 2015, to help the city be well informed, act wisely and prevent needless infection, discomfort and death.

We are opening our online volunteer centre – the Leeds COVID 19 Mutual Aid – Action Room –Stop the Spread – Support Community

if you want to help out, the most important thing you can do it join this Facebook group and wait for instructions. The instructions will be clear, credible and help keep you safe whilst also giving you the chance to take action to help people and make a difference.

We have specific tasks which need your assistance, and instructions for how you can undertake them without causing an increased risk of spreading the virus or getting infected yourself. All you need is access to Facebook – so please join the group and we will be posting further instructions tomorrow!!

With the deepest humility and gratitude for your understanding of the need which necessitated this action, we are so grateful to each and every one of your for being with us during this journey and thank you for your acceptance and support during this time, let’s make Leeds a city which really reacts quickly to control the spread of this disease, and minimises the number of infections and deaths.

Thank you all, and speak very soon,

Phil, Myra and all the team at Open Source Arts.