The Arts Council England-funded project Appetite, which CCU evaluates, brings Roundabout to Stoke-on-Trent for a second year running. Roundabout is a comfy in-the-round theatre by the acclaimed Paines Plough which seats you up close to the action. In October Stoke-on-Trent will once again host a four day festival of brand new plays by some of the country’s top writers plus live music, comedy and much more in this wonderful space.
Janet Hetherington writes about her experience at the Interface Symposium.
What questions should we be asking ourselves as Participatory Artists?
I was fortunate to attend a panel discussion as part of an Interface Symposium exploring the relationship between Art, Participation and Higher Education hosted by the University of Sunderland on 7 September, 2016.
Talking about our experiences in the CCU of developing a range of educational opportunities for participatory and community artists – ranging from our MA in Community and Participatory Arts to bespoke training materials such as The Residency Toolkit – I began to consider what we need to be thinking about in terms of how we support people working in Community and Participatory Arts in the future.
We heard about some amazing projects today. I heard about the fantastic work emerging from the multi partnership First World War Asunder Project to the amazing work of the Grand Gesture Dance Collective. I was inspired by the work of Artists and Performers including Lynne Killeen and No Limits Theatre and I was rather envious of the clever MOOC (Massive online open course) introducing the masses to participatory arts!
Conversations were rich and varied. Why are 72% of participatory artists women? How can arts institutions support artists’ professional development? How do you build a career in participatory arts? How can you develop work which is ongoing and allows you to form relationships? Does the lack of childcare drive women into working in the sector?
All important questions and ones which, alas, I don’t have all the answers on. Rather more importantly, I began to realise something far more important and that is what a friendly and welcoming world the participatory arts sector can be – and surely we should be celebrating and discussing this a bit more often. I only knew a few faces in the room and yet I was welcomed, I shared common experiences with people, I laughed at the frustrations and delights associated with working on participatory arts projects, I shared and gained valuable contacts, information and contacts to help develop my work. I hope I made a few friends.
In a sector where many of us work on a freelance, part time basis (and I include those of us working in education in this) it is easy to feel isolated and to lose faith in the values underpinning the participatory arts movement. However, how many other industries operate like the participatory arts world and despite having no professional or personal connections can create the energy, contacts and support, as was offered at the symposium today.
As a creative industry, the participatory arts sector should be shouting from the rooftops about this – we are a friendly profession. The projects today demonstrated that we work in amazing places, with fantastic communities and achieve some great stuff – and maybe if we shouted a bit more loudly about our achievements our workforce might diversify and we might enjoy work a bit more!
Staffordshire University has created new online resources for teachers to help tackle bullying and discrimination in classrooms across Europe.
The free training includes an online course, toolkit and didactic manual, and was developed following research carried out with educational partners in Turkey, Greece, Germany, Spain and Italy as part of the @Mindset project, a two year initiative co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union.
Amongst other things, Janet Hetherington from the Creative Communities Unit worked with colleagues to develop, train and evaluate the training materials.
The course content and format was developed with feedback from educational professionals dealing with issues of discrimination on a day-to-day basis. In addition to online user-testing, over 30 teachers and youth workers from across Europe came to Stoke-on-Trent in March 2016 to take part in a successful trial of the course, which received excellent feedback.
Bobbie Fletcher, Head of Games Design at Staffordshire University, has been leading the project. She said: “We’re really pleased with the positive feedback we’ve received about the online course. Working with our counterparts across Europe has been both inspiring and insightful.
“We have all increased our knowledge and understanding by sharing our good practice and learning from others. The final result is an excellent training course which will be of interest to anyone working within an educational setting.”
The course is made up of 5 units and includes presentations, case studies, resources and interactive activities that can be adapted for different learning environments. It can be accessed for free online via the project website .
Rezzan Balcilar, English Teacher and Teacher Trainer at Haci Nazim Turgut Primary School, Turkey added: “I’m proud to be a member of the @Mindset project because managing social relationships in the classroom is one of the greatest challenges I have faced in my teaching career. This course was a great opportunity for teachers, directors and members of the community to share our experiences.”
For more information, please contact the project lead, Bobbie Fletcher, Head of Games Design, Staffordshire University Email: B.D.Fletcher@staffs.ac.uk Phone: (0)1785 353204
We now have a section on the website that will showcase some of the research projects carried out by our current and past students. The pages will be updated over the coming weeks and months, and if you’re a current or past student of ours and would like to be included on the site please get in touch.
The first student to be featured on the site is Sam Richardson, who is studying the MA Youth and Community Work. Here he gives an overview of his research and experience as a student studying with the Creative Communities Unit.
Take a look at the research projects page here.
Our popular Certificate of Credit in Theory and Practice of Mentoring short course will be running October-December 2016 and is now open for applications at both Level 4 and Level 7.
The course explores real-world applications of mentoring skills in various settings and helps you develop supportive relationships in your family, community or organisation.
You will examine the distinctions between mentoring and other helping practices including performance coaching and counselling.
The course explores key perspectives which inform and underpin the practice of mentoring. Through a series of structured exercises and case study materials, you will develop an understanding of the core skills and competencies necessary to the mentoring role.
You can find out more about the course and apply on the Staffs University website:
Please get in touch with the module leader, Louise Rutherford, if you have any queries.
Local performance company Restoke has an exciting new project, “You Are Here”, taking place at The Wedgwood Institute in Stoke-on-Trent. Restoke is led by Clare Reynolds, who is one of CCU’s former students.
Restoke has been working with people who migrated to the city from other countries, alongside a team of local performers, to create an intimate and extraordinary journey around themes of home, culture and migration.
They have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise further funds which will allow them to produce a high-quality film version of the performance. This will be made available free online for more people to enjoy, including the friends and family of our cast from all over the world! The live performances will take place between 5th – 8th October 2016 so keep your eyes peeled for announcements & tickets in September.
Please click here to visit their Kickstarter campaign page, watch the video, share and donate if you can. Any amount is welcome and would be hugely appreciated by Restoke.
You can now view five new case studies that form part of our evaluation of Appetite.
These case studies consider areas such as Appetite’s funding for developing new artists, the positive journey for a Community Hub member who commissioned a successful performance drawing on Stoke’s heritage, the impact of Appetite on the City, and the experience for a volunteer involved in the creation of the opinion-dividing Meir Consumerist Christmas Tree.