CoolTan Arts began in 1990 taking their name from the disused CoolTan sun lotion factory where their studios were based. CoolTan remained in Brixton until 2006 when they moved to their current site on Walworth Road.
Initially CoolTan funded themselves by organising parties and events. They ran art based workshops aimed at women who had survived mental health issues, sexual assault and trauma. The classes acted as a catalyst for women to share their experiences, and to create and develop their own creativity. To this day CoolTan continues to run a women only visual arts workshop.
CoolTan Arts addressed a growing need for low cost, non vocational education as local authorities became constrained by the push for accredited courses, isolating many individuals from attending classes for reasons of poverty, ill health, mental health and disability. Over the years the number of creative classes and projects has grown. Workshop participants are referred to CoolTan Arts by NHS professionals and social workers.
This simple nurture with creativity goes a long way in enabling people back to good health. Art enables key skills and re-learning processes without any feelings of excessive pressure. The types of skills are discussion, making choices, language, expression, feeling, intuition, confidence to be in a group, and confidence to speak. Workshops provide a social atmosphere away from a day centre, which will encourage people who do not like to be labelled a place to go, break their isolation and give participants an activity to look forward to.