Creative Community of Volunteers formed Hampstead Gown Factory at Wac Arts

Hampstead Gown Factory at Wac Arts

During the lockdown of Summer 2020, as we were faced with the realities of the COVID-19 global pandemic, Wac Arts’ home of Hampstead Old Town Hall opened its doors to become the Hampstead Gown Factory.

Wac Arts was honoured to host this vital volunteer initiative led by The Royal Free Charity, producing tens of thousands of PPE gowns for use by the essential NHS staff working tirelessly at the nearby Royal Free Hospital.

Charity, like the notions of volunteerism and philanthropy, provides real social bonding and contributes to the creation of inclusive and more resilient societies.
International Day of Charity, United Nations

With our building closed for operations as a creative hub – for young people and families, and arts and cultural organisations – a new creative community formed. Volunteers from across London and beyond gathered to develop new skills in sewing and production, learning from professional designers and makers who were also volunteering to support the cause. From magistrates to make-up artists, Wac Arts’ Victorian building was filled with people from a variety of backgrounds, coming together to offer their support during this critical time.

“I’d never sewn before in my life… I started on the belts, and here I am doing sleeves six weeks later!” (Volunteer)

“It’s amazing – we produce 800 gowns a day!” (Royal Free Hospital worker)

“They’re using them [the gowns] at a rate of 1,000 a day, which is a lot.” (Volunteer)

Wac Arts commissioned filmmaker Ana de Matos, Director, Producer, and Editor at CHAMELEON EYE FILMS to capture the work of the volunteers at this historic and unprecedented time.

Wac Arts’ Hampstead Gown Factory film was the first in series of commissions within Wac Arts’ new three-year programme, Recover, Rebuild, Reimagine – a participatory arts programme designed in response to the changing ways of living, learning and engaging, as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.

We want to thank all of the volunteers, staff and community members that made this possible, as well as the essential NHS workers that are working on the front line of the pandemic.