SAFE PROJECT – WINTER 20148 min read

Peshkar Productions supported 20 girls aged 13-16 from two schools in Oldham to gain Bronze Arts Awards. The project ran once in each school and girls were chosen to first work with a partner organisation called ‘KOGS’ for 6 sessions to explore the issues of safe relationships and sexual exploitation. Peshkar Productions then worked with the girls for another 7 sessions (+ trips) to explore their identity through drama workshops, to create stop motion animation about themselves and to work towards achieving a Bronze Arts Award.

Activity

The girls were referred onto the project and sessions took place in the schools at the end of the day. Each project consisted of an average of 10 girls aged 13-16. Sessions were approximately 2 hours long. Peshkar sessions began with drama games to focus and relax the girls and the sessions then led onto animation exploration and skill development. The girls completed specially designed Bronze Arts Award booklets at the end of the session and took part in learning evaluations. Portfolios were all mixed and consisted of photographs, videos, written work, collages, pictures etc. Each girl’s Arts Award was tailored to suit her individual needs and abilities.

Approach and cultural links

Part A (Taking Part): The girls worked with ‘Wild Things Drama’ to explore their identity through drama games and activities and worked with ‘Huckleberry Films’ to create stop motion animation. The girls were shown examples of stop motion animation, planned their films together and created their animation each week by cutting out pictures/ images etc. More images/ cut outs were provided each week tailored to the girls stories. The girls also visited ‘The Boo’ where they took part in ‘The Big Draw’ and made masks.

Part B (Be The Audience): Each project was slightly different with regards to which trips the girls attended but each girl had the opportunity to attend between 2 and 4 trips with Peshkar such as:

Group 1 spent a wonderful day at ‘The Boo’ at the beginning of their project. They received a special tour of the theatre, took part in ‘The Big Draw,’ watched a performance of ‘Statik’ with a Q&A, made masks, watched animation and spoke to artists from ‘Horse and Bamboo.’ This activity was chosen due to our positive relationship with H&B and the value added support the girls would receive on the day.

Group 1 then watched a performance of Horse and Bamboos ‘Red Riding Hood’ at ‘The Edge Theatre’ and shared their own animations with cast and staff members whom they had met previously. This was chosen as it was a lovely way to share their work, see the puppets in action that they had watched being made and also because of the subtle storylines that can be related to safe relationship issues.

Group 2 watched ‘We Can Be Heroes’ at the Lowry theatre and were treated to a specially organised group Q and A/ career development session with the cast. The Lowry professionally filmed their review and sent it back to us.  This was chosen because of the ‘coming of age’ theme and due to the positive male role models the girls would meet.

Groups 1 and 2 then attended a celebration event at Oldham Library/ Gallery where they watched a show called ‘The Runway’ by a young dance company which was chosen due its humorous look at vanity and celebrity culture through a fun, movement based performance. The girls had their own room and were brought together through drama games to bond the 2 groups. As a surprise the girl’s animations were projected onto a wall and shown to the audience and the cast members. Sticky notes were left to gather positive feedback about their films and the girls were thrilled with this surprise.

Part C: (Arts Hero): This section of the award focused on positive female role models who were artists. We discussed what made a woman an inspiration and a positive role model and developed ideas of who these may be. (Family/ friends/ teachers/ celebrities) We spent time researching these women in the computer lab and Nancy from Wildthings Drama created a folder for inspiration or if the girls missed the computer session.

Part D: (Skill Sharing): We did this section of the award over a few sessions. We paired the girls up and planned what skills they were going to share and with whom. The girls then passed these skills on in the next sessions and we recorded them/ took pictures and did sheets to explore this. We had a wonderful mix of skills being passed on such as steel pan drumming, ipad editing, visual art, nail and makeup design and dance.

Moderation

We took a varied approach to evidence collecting (sheets/ photographs/ videos etc) due to the mixed abilities and drive of the girls we worked with and the limited time we had in classes. The advisor created folders on a computer for each girl and put in images and videos and placed their clearly labelled scrapbooks on a table. What seemed like a good idea at the time meant creating and filling 80 folders on the computer (4 for each of the 20 girls) which took a long time to collate. The moderator was pleased with the results and acknowledges what a challenging project this was due to the mixed ability of the girls (practically and emotionally) and the limited time we had to fit in such a lot of quality opportunities. The moderator suggested creative ways of gathering evidence when time and attention are limited that would be easier for the moderator and gently challenge the girls to take more ownership of their learning. It was a very positive experience.

Participant Learning

The girls learnt a vast amount in a short space of time. They all felt confident that they could create their own animations in the future and some have begun to do so already. They developed creativity and team work skills through the drama games and confidence through passing on skills and acknowledging their achievements. Through meeting and talking with a variety of artists and seeing a variety of artwork the girls developed knowledge of the creative industries and what jobs/ opportunities are available. We discussed local arts opportunities and signposted the girls to things that were of interest to them. The girls did joint and personal evaluations and reflected on their learning throughout the project. The most obvious learning from the girls was that ‘learning’ can be fun and achievement can feel wonderful. The girls all commented that they didn’t think they could achieve what they had done and that they felt very proud of their achievements and efforts.

Advisor Learning

This was a fantastic project with a lot of high quality opportunities. The mixed age classes were very positive and gave younger girls the courage the get to know the older girls and pass on skills to them. Enabling the girls to meet artists, see professional work and then show their own completed work to the artists was wonderful and created a genuine platform for artistic respect regardless of age or status. The success of the project was down to the hard work, dedication and caring nature of the artists involved who put in 110{3c0d36e3735f757d9dabb56545ae857d7c08433cd9155c8b4932af97a8dc8594} to ensure the girls got an amazing opportunity. Working with a venue from the start of the project to the end was extremely valuable and highlighted how artists can develop in the creative industries at various levels. All the venues were happy to accommodate extra touches to make the girls feel extra special, something extremely important when working with vulnerable groups. Although providing positive opportunities is worthwhile it can be a challenge when taking vulnerable young people out of their comfort zone and a balance needs to be found. Seven (2 hour) sessions is enough in theory to complete this project but was very difficult in reality due to many reasons such as truancy, taking a long time to gain the girls trust and respect, allowing time to support the girls to try new things, emotional and behaviour issues and generally getting to a point where the girls feel confident to take risks and have the confidence in themselves to work towards creating a high quality piece of art.  Contingent sessions need to be in place. As we all know, artists also need to be ready to work with the intense emotional issues that creating personal art can bring to the surface.  The moderation was a challenge and next time we will use ArtsBox to put the control in the hands of the participants more to collect evidence for their portfolios. It can be hard to accept that everyone may not pass the award (if they put less effort in) but this may be necessary to ensure a meaningful rewards for those that genuinely work hard to achieve their award. All in all this was a wonderfully successful and ambitions project that provided high quality experiences for vulnerable young women and as said before, wouldn’t have been as magical without the dedication of Huckleberry Films, Wildthings Drama and Horse and Bamboo.

Funding: The funding for this whole project came from The Home Offices ‘Ending Gang and Youth Violence’  fund. The whole project was a partnership between Peshkar Productions, KOGS and OREP.

You can see the animations here.  We think they are beautiful…