Dance in the community with Dance United Yorkshire
BY: Guest Writer
03 Sep 2020
This week we hear from Trinity Champion Centre, Dance United Yorkshire, where Dance Programmes Manager, Romina Thornton tells us about how they managed to maintain their presence within their local community during the pandemic by offering Arts Award Discover.
Dance United Yorkshire is a Bradford-based charity and National Portfolio Organisation with Arts Council England. We deliver high quality dance training to marginalised groups of young people. As an organisation we’ve been delivering Arts Award for approximately fourteen years. We have always felt the awards were a perfect fit with our curriculum. In fact, the award is now embedded within all of our work and has become an integral part of our offering. We largely deliver Bronze Arts Award over five-week intensive projects but like many arts organisations we’re having to think differently and find new methods of delivery during these challenging times.
Dance in the Community
As a dance organisation currently unable to deliver face to face, we quickly turned to Arts Award as a way to engage with our participants remotely. This was new territory to us, so we decided that Arts Award Discover was a good starting point. Resi-dance is our four-year project funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation which involves us becoming embedded within a large housing estate in Bradford, delivering dance sessions in a community centre at the heart of the estate. This area is one of the most deprived areas of Bradford and we knew early on in lock-down that we wanted to maintain a presence there.
We created a handbook around the theme ‘All about me and my world’. We wanted young people to engage with something they found helpful through uncertain times, including tasks that allowed young people time to reflect on who they are and where they live, encouraging them to focus on the positives and their aspirations for the future. We created work sheets and series of activities, such as writing a poem and creating a self-portrait, alongside more practical tasks on an art form of their choice.
In total we recruited 18 households and delivered 25 Discover Arts Awards to young people aged four – ten years old. The award took between four and ten weeks to complete as it was dependent on parents’ working schedules, weather, schoolwork etc. Participants were gifted an ‘Arts Activity Pack’ which included the handbook along with all the arts and craft materials needed to complete the tasks. It was an important aspect that each child received a pack, something that was theirs to use and keep, as many families were unlikely to have access to such materials and resources. The activities we planned could be carried out independently but depending on age some may have needed adult supervision.
Garden Gate Visits
We kept in touch with parents through WhatsApp. They regularly sent pictures and updates however motivation dwindled under challenging circumstances. As restrictions eased we introduced ‘garden gate’ visits. Artists visited each child spending 1 on 1 time (adhering to government guidelines) to encourage and support them. This helped to pick up momentum and children looked forward to their visits. Parents and children have responded well to the offering and feedback has been incredibly positive. People are thankful we are doing something to encourage creativity through this very unpredictable and stressful time.
"I really enjoyed completing my first Arts Award as it showed me who I am as a person. I got to write about myself and draw a self-portrait. My favourite task was learning about my favourite singer, and then writing my own song." Caden, 10 years old, Discover Arts Award achiever.
"It's been great for my children to still have contact with their dance teachers, and it also gave them something new to achieve which helps them forget what's going on in the world right now.” – Gemma, parent of participant
Certain activities worked better than others and, with the learning from this initial phase, we are now developing a second pack to be rolled out over summer. With support from our funders DfE we are now delivering a further 32 Discover Arts Awards.
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BY: Layne Harrod