One of the positives to emerge from the upheaval of the pandemic has been a national outpouring of creativity. In a bid to make sense of the world around them, the lockdown gave people the perfect excuse to pick-up a paint brush or coloured pencil.

“Art is the way to communicate what we can’t say,” explained Emily Harper, a member of the dynamic team that created art-K

“Look at how people really got behind creating rainbows to put in their windows – it gave us a sense of community and helped us to deal with a stressful situation. Helping young people to channel their artistic ability has been at the core of what art-K has been all about.

Started by Kathryn Harper as a means of helping her children Rebekah and Emily to interpret the world through art, her age based development art programme has grown and now hundreds of children are developing their creative skills as a result.

Daughter Emily joined the business as a student in 2000 and since 2016 they have worked hard to create a national brand.

“We have 11 franchises and 17 of our own branches- we had only just launched seven of the branches as we went into lockdown in March.

“We have developed a pre-recorded art streaming service or ‘Netflix for art’ with age-based projects. In May 2020 we launched our zoom classes and we carried this on until we could open our studios in July,” she said.

Making sure the groups could safely meet once more required a substantial investment from art-K.

“I’m really proud of the investment we made. We brought in perspex dividers from China and introduced safety procedures to make sure we could continue to operate, and by September we had covered our investment,” she said.

Sue Davitt, Business Adviser at Enterprise South, was able to help Emily to secure initial funding for the business.

“Sue facilitated us getting a government backed start-up loan and her help has been invaluable,” said Emily.

“The new Kickstarter scheme is enabling us to bring on 13 new members of staff.

Sue explained that often businesses with no track record find it impossible to secure funding from other sources but the start-up loan from the government is a personal loan for business use of between £500 to £25,000.

“It has been great to help Emily and art-K and to see how they have been able to progress and build their business,” she said.

If you would like to find out more about how Enterprise South can help your business, check out the website or email Sue.Davitt@enterprisesouth.co.uk