Destinies is a music and theatre production celebrating the stories and creativity of young refugees and asylum seekers living in Derbyshire.

It was partnership project between Ava Hunt Theatre, Sinfonia Viva, Orchestras Live and co-created with young people and Derbyshire County Council Virtual School.  The project ran from October 2019 – November 2021.

 "Because, you know, like different people have come together you know, like friends. I don’t know no one here so, we come together - know each other, make, like, friendly and sing together, acting and move together." Young Refugee/Asylum seeker participant

Destinies created a space for young people from vulnerable and culturally diverse backgrounds to have their voices heard and reflected through narratives, songs and music. 

 “I always write poems and I just write stuff. But I just I didn’t know I could write something and put it to work and then it makes sense when somebody else reads it or when somebody else speaks it to me and I can reflect it to myself through somebody else. That was just magic to be honest.” Young Refugee/Asylum seeker participant

Destinies introduced young people to the creative arts and involved them in all aspects of a production, giving an insight to the breadth of creative industries.

 “Taking part has built my confidence, my social life and, creatively, helped me to focus on my writing by writing about different things.  It’s made me feel I’m really capable of achieving all the good things I have in my head, and it’s another opportunity to see where it takes me.”  Participant

This project was designed to result in a traditional performance piece in 2020 but this was thwarted by Covid19. Everyone worked hard together to devise new ways of working, with a mixture of online and in-person meetings, artistic sessions, composing, writing, drawing and singing culminating in a presentation of songs, script animation and music at Derby Theatre in November 2021. 

Images Chris Webb

The full-length edited film was screened at Derby Theatre on Monday 15 November 2021. It was introduced by one of the young participants who talked about their experience of the whole project:

“They turned a light on my darkness, and they showed me my career goal.  I really appreciate this from the whole team – who have worked with me hard, and encouraged me all the time. I have been rejected by lots of people – they rejected me because of my background and where I am from, but when I got in the project they weren’t the same – they were so nice.” Young Refugee/Asylum seeker participant

The release of the final film marks the end of a two-year project which has been incredibly inspiring.  Destinies has reminded us that music is such a powerful communication tool. One lunchtime early on in the project, a young person who had recently arrived in the UK, went over to the xylophone which we had been using in the song writing session that morning and started playing a repeating pattern.  A couple of the team quickly went to join them, playing along with the riff and adding other musical layers and soon many others joined the impromptu jam session.  We didn’t speak a shared language, but in this moment we were totally connected through the music making and this riff featured in the final film.

Destinies was the winner of the 2020 Arts and Culture Children & Young People NOW Award.  Destinies also won the Creativity for Good Mainframe Award in 2022.


Destinies was supported by Derbyshire County Council, Orchestras Live and Arts Council England through its Emergency COVID19 Response Funds.



Created written performed by and with young people Young Creators, Musicians, Animators, Performers: Alex, Connor, Essa, Grace, Winnie, Yazan, Jess, Amir, Habib, Marcus, Zac, Nadia, Sem, Emma, Kori, Adam, Tom, Annessa, Sophie
Creative Mentors: Derbyshire County Council Virtual School:
Christine Haywood, Debi Hedderwick, Angus McLeod, Wendy Johnson, Meg Quinn, Rachael Milczarek
Directed & Produced: Ava Hunt
Musical Director, Composing, Arranging, Sound Editing: Raph Clarkson
Producer: Frances Watt
Dramatury & Writing: Lin Coghlan
Sinfonia Viva Musicians: Matthew Dunn (clarinet), Raghad Haddad (viola), Rosie Toll (percussion)
Animation: Nick Hersey
Animation and QLab Operation: Ben Walden
Lighting and Production Management: Andy Purves
Sound: Harry Greatorex, Sonny Johns, Kieron Jordan
Performer: Karim Hayada
Sinfonia Viva Workshop Support: Marianne Barraclough, Andrew Nesbitt, Ellie Martindale, Hattie Coupe
Workshops Support: Acushla Vigh-Bolger, Michael Johnston, Kai Bools, Emily Owen, Sarah Hailstones, Caity Schneema, Ali Bramwell
Costume and Props: Jasper Turnbull
Filming and Editing: Swainson Productions, Adam Robertson (Film City TV), Roger Knott-Fayle
Stills Photography: Chris Webb
Partners: Ava Hunt Theatre Company, Orchestras Live, Derbyshire County Council Virtual School, Sinfonia Viva