This Is Derby Reimagine

Derby is a brilliant city, but not one without its challenges. We have a strong sense of our rich culture - a city in the heart of the UK, connected globally but still small enough that people feel connected. However, some families and young people are being left behind. They tend to be families from areas of our city that are higher in deprivation, where people may not get the chance to benefit from all we have to offer.

It is well proven, that culture and the arts can be the spark that ignites a young person’s confidence and excitement for life. In Derby, our arts and sports organisations have joined forces to create an award-winning consortium that supports those young people that really need it. The University of Derby, supporting the This is Derby consortium, won the Guardian University Award 2020 for Social and Community Impact. Originally funded as part of the city’s Opportunity Area programme, This is Derby continues now as a thriving collaboration of organisations, who work together to create amazing work with young people in our city. One of those projects is a £1million called Reimagine.

Reimagine is an ambitious, strategically connected, performance programme generated by young people in areas of lowest cultural engagement. Derby’s performing arts organisations will collaboratively support young people in 5 ‘hubs’ through progressive encounters with inspirational work, artists and settings. As new skills are nurtured, families will be engaged, teachers will gain new knowledge and the young will uncover routes to creative careers. They will produce their own work, reimagining everyday spaces and authoring the story of their lives in innovative and extraordinary performances.

The Five Hubs are: Abbey, Chaddesden/Derwent, Normanton/Arboretum, Sinfin and SEND hub.

Derby SEND hub

The SEND hub involves young people and staff from six schools across Derby: Ivy House, Royal School for the Deaf Derby, St Andrew’s, St Clare’s, St Giles, St Martins. We have also worked with the Youth Service at Royal Derby Hospital and with some individual young people and their families. We work closely with lead artists from Hubbub Theatre Company and QUAD to produce projects that are focussed around making new pieces, and crucially coming together to share these as a large ensemble. So many of the schools told us that they felt their young people missed out on participating in events beyond their own school, so this was and remains a huge driver for our work in the SEND hub.

The projects we have previously run in the SEND hub range from working with small groups of around 8 young people in workshop sessions, to our massed This is Derby sharing event in 2019 which involved 140 young people aged between 7-19  from the 6 SEND schools came together to share their newly created music, movement and art work. 

You can see some lovely moments from this sharing day here

In Summer 2020, the SEND hub ran a series of creative online workshop sessions for young people and their families to attend. The sessions were themed around Change (symbolised by a butterfly) Kindness (symbolised by a sunflower) and Hope (symbolised by a rainbow).  Hubbub, QUAD and Sinfonia Viva all ran workshop sessions and made new pieces inspired by the themes, you can read more about this project here.

You can listen to the wonderful songs written and recorded in these music sessions here

One of the participants told us:

“Thank you, I really enjoyed the sessions. The guess the sound game was my favourite. I liked hearing my voice.”

Karla Jones, Co-Producer at Hubbub Theatre Company reflected on some of the creative work they delivered as part of this virtual project last year:

"Hubbub has been a lead partner in the Reimagine project, involved primarily with the SEND Hub. We have delivered online workshops with existing members of Hubbub, as well as recruiting new participants. These workshops took place on Zoom from August-October 2020, led by dance and movement practitioners, and culminated in the co-creation of 'It's All About Hope' a dance film recorded outdoors at Darley Park, which has recently been submitted to for potential entry into the regional and national youth dance platform in July 2020."

Watch this beautiful movement piece produced by Hubbub here 

Each of the arts partners went on to work with some of the SEND schools in the run up to Christmas 2020. These digital sessions were intended to help everyone feel more confident working digitally and resulted in some lovely connections solidifying our relationship with staff and students.

“The KS3 classes worked with Hubbub, at the same time which they really enjoyed and they found the excitement of having someone leading on screen enjoyable.  The attention span of our students was shorter on screen, but the short visual activities were brilliant!” Barry Richardson, Teacher, St Andrews School

“The students had an amazing time, for some of them it was the only work they have managed to do in school, and it lead to positive conversations between school and home.  Some of the young people basked in the immediate feedback from Abbie (from QUAD), they felt ownership and great pride in their work.” Frances Roberts, Expressive Arts Teacher, St Clare’s

“My sincerest thanks everyone at Sinfonia Viva, for your patience and dedication. The children have enjoyed the sessions and are very proud of the song, they assisted with. We will have an opportunity to let all the other children in school hear our song in our head teacher's Christmas assembly.” Mark Liquorish, Teacher, St Martins

We are now planning our Home Girl inspired project about Friendship which will take place after Easter.  During this project Sinfonia Viva will make new songs with some of the SEND schools inspired by the theme.  These songs will be shared with Hubbub and their schools, who will create some movement to accompany the songs.  Following this, the songs and footage of the movement will be shared with QUAD and their schools, who will create artwork and backdrops for the films.  We will share these films with a joint digital sharing event for the schools, and around the production of Home Girl at Derby Theatre in July.

Our Deputy Chief Executive: Programme, Marianne Barraclough works in the SEND hub and looks forward to the upcoming Home Girl inspired project:

"I have been lucky enough to work with the SEND hub for the Reimagine project for the last couple of years.  My role is to co-ordinate the hub, running regular meetings with key teachers and artists, and to channel everyone’s ideas into a project plan, before liaising with the schools and artists over the detailed plans for the workshops and performances.  Sometimes I get to participate in the workshops alongside the brilliant artists and wonderful young people and staff in the SEND hub – which is always inspiring and joyful!

At Sinfonia Viva we are passionate about sharing high quality creative arts experiences with everyone – especially those that might otherwise miss out.  All of our work is shaped by the communities in which we are working, in practise that means we do a lot of listening and building programmes and projects which respond to need and are rooted in the community.  We are particularly excited by collaborations with other artists and art forms alongside music and by working with non-professional artists as part of the creative team!"

What have you learnt from leading on the project?

"I have made some wonderful connections with young people and staff from the SEND schools and the families that participated in the summer programme last year.  We have built up a great deal of trust through working together and we are hugely excited about what we can do together.  It is always exciting to me when all the partners – artists, school staff and young people are able to input to the creative process – from the design of the shape of the programme, to the actual content of the pieces they make, it’s a delight to be able to really listen and help facilitate those ideas."

Karla Jones (Hubbub Theatre Company) also describes her experience working within the SEND hub and outlines her aspirations for the upcoming Home Girl inspired project:

What have you learnt from leading on the project?

"Leading on the project in an online format has made us aware of the potential to continue to engage young people in creative activities, the artist's and the participant's adaptability has been the key in making this project so successful. We have learnt that having a strong methodology and forging strong relationships between artists and young people can produce extraordinary work on and offline."  

What are your ambitions and hopes for the Reimagine project?

"We were hoping to engage with a wider audience and recruit new participants, we have done this as well as retained those participants and engaged them with new and existing Hubbub activity. We also wanted to engage with a broader range of artists, we were able to employ 3 musicians/composers, a film-maker and a dance artist through the Reimagine project, offering our participants access to a wide range of artistic experiences." 

 What do you hope the young people have learnt and achieved from being involved?

"We had some feedback from one of the young people involved after the online sessions had finished in October 2020, "I wanted to thank you for introducing me to the Hubbub Theatre group and for allowing me to join in with the sessions, I've had a really good time creating the dance with the group, I've loved joining in with the group so much that I wondered if it would be possible to attend further opportunities that the group has, I would love to carry on being involved with Hubbub" 

What do you think this particular project's legacy will be?

"We hope this project has provided a strong foundation for the young people who took part to be able to continue their creative journeys with Hubbub and further afield". 

Why do you think the arts and culture are so important in the lives of young people?

"Arts and culture allows young people to forge their personal identity and express their creativity in safe and supportive environments. It also emboldens them in their communication and life skills, equipping them for future artistic endeavours and strengthening the next generation of creatives". 

We are really looking forward to sharing the pieces that are created from our workshops this July. Reimagine is an Arts Council England Youth Performance Partnership project, working with Derby Cultural Education Partnership.