Access Fund Success Stories

Access Fund Success Stories

Picture of Alan Lynch

BY: Alan Lynch
22 Jan 2018

Don’t forget the next round of the Arts Award Access Fund opens next Monday, 29 January. We’ve covered the application form in detail previously, so if you are thinking about applying do look back at our earlier guidance.

This week, however, we wanted to celebrate some projects that have benefitted from an Access Fund grant recently. So, if you’ve ever wondered what type of centres and delivery we support or are looking for some inspiration for your own projects, read on!

Mounts Bay Academy

Mounts Bay Academy were awarded funding for a series of dance sessions designed to engage students in an art form many had no previous experience of. Their grant was used to recruit specialists in different dance styles to work with year groups across the school, including primary students about to transition to into secondary school.

Mounts Bay Academy dance

 This activity completely reawakened a love of dance in the school. For instance, one student who completed Gold hugely benefitted from their leadership project, her confidence and skills grew to the extent that when the final event took place she hosted the whole thing, as though she had been doing it for years. Some of the primary students involved felt it was very important for transition, commenting that it was a really good time to come into their prospective school and have fun while meeting students from other schools. Several SEN students are still regularly attending dance or drama club and feel very included in their groups.

Because some key male students were recruited early for the boys-only dance workshops the take up was excellent, with one student so inspired that he has now joined the Cornwall Dance Company. This project’s success has allowed teachers to successfully showcase the value of an arts based programme, to the extent that the school is now funding further dance work, by getting a specialist to visit the school on a regular basis. None of which would’ve happened without the Access Fund grant.

Cardboard Citizens

Cardboard Citizens provide training, education, support and performance opportunities to young people affected by or at-risk of homelessness. They used the Access Fund grant used to deliver Arts Award through several programmes. Young people all undertook arts workshops, CV writing workshops, money management training and were supported in managing their newfound self-employment and balancing any benefits that they receive. This resulted in not only achieving a qualification, but for many several young people who took part also went onto find employment.

Cardboard Citizens stage


One strand focused on mental health, a topic chosen by the young people. A new theatre piece 'Hikkikamori' (Japanese proverb referring to the isolation of male adolescents) was developed and performed by the group in front of a live audience. Following 'Hikkikamori', eight young people were supported to develop and record their own concept album around mental health issues. The album is available for free here, along with a making of video. One participant summed up their experience by saying:

‘Before this, I was doing nothing in my hostel – and I was bad news. I found it hard to meet new people. I’ve learnt how to approach and show respect to people – not by fighting but by what you show them on stage – the best of you.’

As a result, Cardboard Citizens have made several adaptations to both their Arts Award delivery and year-round ACT NOW programme. The post of Young Persons’ Delivery Manager has been increased to full time to increase the support on offer, and they are engaging a greater number of volunteers.

DIY Theatre Company

DIY brought in film specialist Hilary Easter-Jones from Wynter Productions to work with a group of young people with learning disabilities who were transitioning to adulthood. Hilary taught the group film-making skills and how to successfully capture creative evidence of the project. This group were affected by mental health issues, bereavement, lack of stability, bullying and other forms of abuse. This Silver Arts Award project improved the confidence and resilience of group members and enabled them to develop a range of transferrable skills which will be useful to them in adult life.

DIY Theatre


The centre developed a successful partnership with You Can and have already identified financial support to build on and extend this work. You Can said of the project:

‘Not everyone wants to do sports-based or office-based qualifications or training – Arts Award has enabled us to offer something for those young people who are interested in arts. It’s a side of our offer we can’t always meet, so the Arts Award and the project with DIY has been great for that. It’s a difficult area of work for young people with learning disabilities of working age to get into. They want careers, they have ambitions to work in the arts and we want to facilitate that. It’s important to create opportunities.’

The Access Fund opens for applications on Monday 29 January. For more information visit, or email

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