305 workshops in three transformational months

2015 is looking to be our busiest year yet, with dozens of exciting projects and events planned. Between January and March alone, we will have delivered 305 workshops, from sculpture to film-making and song-writing to experimental performance art.  Here are some of the highlights.

creative:connection
creative:connection brings together disabled and non-disabled young people from special and mainstream secondary schools to work creatively with each other. In the UK, 38% of disabled students worry about being bullied by their peers and 67% of non-disabled people say they feel uncomfortable when talking to a disabled person. Our aim is to eliminate these barriers through creative collaborations.

During February, we have taken our musicians to schools in Kent and Manchester, where they have been writing and performing music with the young people. During March, a large mural will be created at intu Milton Keynes from artwork produced by children from White Spire School; while in Ealing, young people will create their own live art piece complete with handmade masks and props.

Our Chief Executive talked about the ethos of the project on joereddington.com. A non-disabled student said, “I’ve got to work with people that I wouldn’t normally talk to. The students from the SEN school were a lot more confident than we were, so they inspired us to be confident like them. This has been the first time that I’ve really engaged with people who have disabilities so I feel like I’ve learnt a lot.Rescaled cc art Inside Stories
Evidence suggests that maintaining family ties whilst in prison can reduce the likelihood of reoffending by 39%. Over the next few weeks, we are taking our award-winning Inside Stories project for offenders who have children to two prisons in the South East.

Working with our professional artists, they will work collaboratively to write, record and illustrate original stories for their children before setting these to music. The project culminates in a family concert in the prison; and the children receive a copy of the storybook and CD that are produced.

Inside Stories helps offenders connect with their children, maintain or rebuild family ties and develop vital social skills. Read the Huffington Post article about the project.

“It makes us feel closer to [our families] and strengthens family relationships as it shows something we have made from our own imagination,” said one of the participants. “My son likes stories and I’ll be able to read better now.”Rescaled inside art creative:space
In the UK, disabled children are significantly less likely to participate in cultural activities. In March, we are running creative:space music events at SE London’s fully accessible Henry Wood Hall and one of the UK’s leading performance spaces, The Stables in Milton Keynes. We’re welcoming the Manchester Reed Quintet and musical savant, pianist Derek Paravicini (who is blind and has severe learning difficulties) who will perform an interactive musical programme with dancing, craft and participatory music activities.

Book tickets for London here and Milton Keynes here. One of the parents described the concert as “wonderful. We have never been to an event like this for fear of spoiling it for others. It’s lovely to be in a non-judgemental environment.”P1330715 art:space
80% of carers say they feel isolated or lonely, which makes projects like art:space vitally important to their emotional well-being. art:space  gives young carers aged 5-18 the chance to develop their creativity, form friendships and have time away from their caring responsibilities. For the first time, Create took art:space to Winchester and Bath during February. Young carers in Bath worked with our filmmaker to shoot and edit a short film and then composed a soundtrack, which they performed at SouthGate Bath. In Winchester, they used digital cameras to shoot photographs and will create original music inspired by the photographs during April, which they will perform at Whiteley Shopping Centre, alongside an exhibition of their pictures.  

Our Chief Executive reflects on the importance of art:space.

“I’ve met a lot of other people on the project,” one of the young carers told us. “I’ve made new friends and I enjoyed sharing my work with them, which has made me feel more confident.” OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA creative:voices
New research has found that 80% of carers feel isolated or lonely as a result of their caring role. Over the past few weeks, adult carers in Merton have taken part in jewellery-making and creative writing workshops. During February and March, these dedicated adults – who support  people who have a diverse range of special needs and mental ill health – will work with our internationally exhibited artist Daniel Wallis to create artwork to accompany their writing.

An adult carer who took part in one of our jewellery-making workshops said, “It’s been hard since my husband fell ill but this gave me something I could do for myself and meant I could use my old skills of sewing from before. It brought the light back. I’ve managed to dig out all my old sewing and beads, which I had forgotten that I had before this workshop, and now I hope to use them to create more jewellery.Avril0044 creative:u-turn In December, we were treated to a lively performance from a group of women at Bethnal Green’s U-Turn Women’s Project and volunteers from Reed Smith LLP who came together to write music for their own drama production. This month, the project continues with prop and set creation followed by drama.

creative:u-turn, which was recognised with the Lord Mayor’s Dragon Award for Social Inclusion in 2012, is a programme for vulnerable women who have been trapped in cycles of prostitution, drug addiction, physical abuse and homelessness from an early age. The programme encourages women to connect with one another, form friendships, and share experiences and creative ideas.

“At first it scared me,” said one of the women. “But I’ve got more confidence now through persevering and with the help of Create’s artists. I learned that if you put your mind to something, you can do it.”  IMG_0935 ArtsAdventures
According to the British Medical Association, arts programmes have been shown to have a positive effect on long-term patients in hospital. The measured improvements include positive physiological and psychological changes, shorter hospital stays and better doctor-patient relationships.

Over the next few months, we will be providing music and dance workshops for young patients in nine hospitals, hospices and respite centres as we continue our monthly ArtsAdventures programme. Children in Basingstoke, London, Oxford and Reading will have the opportunity to take part in a stimulating hour of creative fun, taking the focus away from their illness, injury or disability.

A mother whose child is in hospital recently wrote to tell us about their arts adventure – “I felt there was magic in the room at the time, there was such a special, intimate atmosphere.” IMG_5531