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The retired artist who’s hoping to build projects to better his community’s well-being

Profile of Michael Charles Griffin, used with permission from Michael Griffin

By Cheryne Lauraly Fourdrigniez

A retired artist has launched a lockdown project to reach out and raise awareness about the importance of social communication – in a time where it might be a little bit harder to socialise with others.

Performing artist Michael Griffin, 64, has had a colourful life as an artist. Throughout his career, he was once a graphic designer, guitarist, and songwriter, member of a band, entertainer, and theatre actor.

He is now involved with the 240 Project, a non-profit organisation dedicated to improving people’s mental health.

Infographic by Cheryne Fourdrigniez

“It’s obviously magnified now more than ever how social contact is an important part of being a human being. We have immense mental health difficulties in society because people are so cut away from each other,” he says.

The 240 Project’s manager, 45-year-old Richard Todd, believes that such projects will help bring people together. “They provide a sense of community for the many individuals who need to belong, creating a safe and supportive space for them to socialise and express themselves, building confidence and self-esteem.”

This sense of community was almost lost when COVID-19 struck. Griffin says that they’ve had to resort to Zoom meetings, which made it difficult to stay connected with his fellow community members.

Instead, he decided to write up his own musical with help from his best friend, Warren Hayes, in the form of a ‘rock opera’. It is called ‘It’s all in a Box’ which is all about “inspiration, determination and action,” he says.

Through his musical, Griffin says that he is trying to get a community of people together to get involved in something that is artistic, positive, and productive.

Excerpt from interview with Michael Griffin explaining why community projects are so vital, credit - Cheryne Fourdrigniez

He believes that people should have the freedom to express themselves without worrying about it being commercial.

Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels

Award-winning choreographer, dancer, and artistic director of the Jiving Lindy Hoppers dance academy, 60-year-old Hayes says that when it comes to getting a community of people involved, it’s very important that they are all inclusive.

“Ordinary people are boxed off into little boxes, I call them battery houses like battery chickens, and they don’t really have any society and then they wonder why there are so many figures of people killing themselves. They feel completely cut off and they don’t feel a part of anything,” says the artist.

In fact, a poll by Craft Magazine reveals that 90% of people have been involved in some sort of community project at a certain point in their lives.

Pie chart by Cheryne Fourdrigniez

He is now working on getting a crowdfunding organised so that he’s finally able to build the community of people he’s been wanting to get together for a long time now.