Extraordinary Arts Packages is a music project offering creative engagement as part of the social recovery from the Covid pandemic across the UK. It is a project supported and funded by Orchestras Live, Arts Council England and People’s Postcode Lottery and the Postcode Community Trust. Each regional project is also in partnership with Local District Councils, including Broadland, Babergh & Mid-Suffolk, South Holland, Essex and Basildon.

Each project begins with Arts Packages of creative resources which are posted or distributed to people by the District Council’s community support network, followed by a series of music workshops which culminate in a celebration of music created during the project. We have been able to offer workshops online and in-person (and even a hybrid of both!) to suit the needs of the group, or to connect with participants whilst restrictions of face-to-face delivery have been in place.


The ExtraOrdinary Arts Packages contain music, art and writing activities inspired by finding the extraordinary in the ordinary and were designed by artist Abbie Canning, writer Hazel Gould and musician Hannah Opstad.

The creative music sessions involve people as a group activity, working closely with the Dementia Action Alliances, or in care homes (supported by care staff) as well as being shared directly with individuals in the community. Through games and engaging activities, participants explore their own creativity or relationship with music. It is through meaningful communication between the musician team and the participants that creates a safe space to share and connect.


Broadland (May – July 2021)

Our first project in Broadland was led by Creative Workshop Leader Sam Glazer and musicians Ant Thompson (Trumpet) and Helena Ruinard (Violin). Restrictions at the time meant we delivered all of the creative workshop sessions online, through Zoom to both care homes. The residents joined us on a weekly basis, listening and responding to live music, conducting through the screen and connecting with our creative music team, reflecting on how music moves us, or can connect us to our pasts. Our finale was very special as restrictions lifted in time for us to visit the care homes in person and perform with a larger ensemble of musicians. The programme of music was informed by the creative music sessions we’d had with the residents over the 5 weeks, and with hand-held percussion at the ready, participants were able to tap and shake along, or simply sit and enjoy experiencing live music.br>


Babergh & Mid-Suffolk (July – August 2021)

Led by Tim Steiner and a team of musicians, we had the pleasure of joining the Chilton Club in Sudbury on a weekly basis throughout July and August, every Tuesday morning. For the afternoons we were able to diversify our offer across the region; we had a session with a Together Tuesday group and residents at Sydney Brown Court care home in Hadleigh, and created a bespoke video for Cedrus House Care Home in Stowmarket. Tim also led a session for Activity Leaders, drawing on his wealth of experience to build on resources and ideas for integrating musical activities specifically for people living with dementia. The project accumulated in a final session with a performance at Red Gables in Stowmarket out on the lawn with individuals from various established community groups, enjoying hearing solos, group performances and joining in with music activities – it was a really special moment for individuals to reconnect. Many for whom this was the first group activity or live event they had attended for nearly 18 months.br>



Where to next…

South Holland (September 2021)

Our brass quintet are joining forces with locally-based singer Amber Sinclair and music leader Hannah Opstad to present a series of concerts in 5 Sheltered Housing communities in and around Spalding.

Essex & Basildon (September – October 2021)

Music Leader Sam Glazer will team up with musicians from the orchestra to deliver creative music sessions at Peaceful Place, a centre for those with young onset Dementia, Carers Choices in Benfleet a day centre for those living with Dementia and Kool Carers, an organisation designed to support young carers in Essex.  The sessions will culminate in early October with a performance with the orchestra at Towngate Theatre in Basildon.