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Nurturing creativity, skills and wonder

11th November 2017

Picture:  Random Acts performers at Dance City (Photo: Neville Campbell)

We have a reputation for presenting world class art, music, theatre, dance, cinema, science and heritage through shows and exhibitions. These public events often grab the headlines, but we are equally proud of our vibrant learning and participation programmes. In fact, last year alone we supported just under a million learning and participation engagements, two thirds of which were with children and young people under 19. 

Pick almost any day of the year, choose any of the 20 unique venues and sites operated by NGCV and you will find creative educators turning theatres, dance studios, cinemas, museums, Roman forts, music venues and galleries into places of wonder and learning and reaching out into communities to engage and support creativity.

Something for everyone

There is something exciting and surprising available for every age group and for people of hugely diverse backgrounds. Programmes vary from one-off creative or visitor events, to light-touch family engagement, ongoing classes and workshops, projects with schools or community organisations, co-production initiatives, support to those with complex needs, and talent development schemes. 

A random selection of just ten activities taking place in autumn 2017 gives a sense of the diverse range of NGCV learning and participation offers:

  • On Thursday mornings, school groups from across the region are inventing their own heroes, and writing their own stories, in a Live Tales workshop – with illustrators on hand to draw the characters and a booklet to take away
  • On Remembrance Sunday injured military veterans are performing Unspoken, a play they created with Theatre Royal’s education team
  • For ten consecutive Saturdays, children as young as five are developing original short plays, supported by professional theatre-makers at Northern Stage
  • Every Monday-to-Friday Centre for Life are delivering laboratory learning activities, providing school students access to a unique range of kit, skills and workshops to enhance curriculum learning
  • In weekly sessions Dance City are supporting several Newcastle schools to create the Path to Freedom performance in response to the anniversary of Dr Martin Luther King’s honorary doctorate from Newcastle University
  • Every week Folkworks is supporting folk musicians to run workshops at The Sage Gateshead, keeping our North Eastern musical heritage alive – and enabling novices to pick up an instrument and join in from their first visit
  • Over a couple of months young people are making professional standard short films, in Tyneside Cinema’s Documentary and Fiction Academies – trying out every role in the filmmaking process
  • On a weekly basis Seven Stories Reader In Residence workshops are supporting children with English as an additional language to be confident readers, writers and speakers
  • The ArtIculate project at BALTIC is helping young people new to contemporary art to research, describe and critique major works, and hone skills in public speaking – some will get to compete at a national event
  • The Take One Object project run by Tyne and Wear Archives Great North Museum is stimulating children, schools and parents to engage more closely with historical artefacts, and to create their own art, films, songs and presentations

Learning through creativity and fun

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!  More than 50 different learning offers run concurrently. Activities can be art form specific, heritage focussed, issue based, curriculum related, or seeking to improve social outcomes. 

Our partners deliver the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Associate Schools programme, run the northern region’s Random Acts film partnership, have unique parent-and-baby and parent-and-toddler programmes, support Special Education Needs and Disability and Autism-friendly learning, run dedicated Silver programmes for older people, facilitate associate companies of non-professionals, run science clubs, and much, much more.

We are also recognised for their success in progression and achievement and can boast high rates of take up for Arts Award, two Centres for Advanced Training, several degree programmes and elite arts training.

Ben Dickenson, our recently appointed Executive Producer of City of Dreams, said, “We know parts of the local population are under-represented in our programmes and we have ambitions to bring participants closer to the centre of our planning, as well as measure our impact more robustly, through an ambitious new collaboration called City of Dreams, which we hope will transform the lives of children and young people in the area. Even without these developments, it is conceivable that someone could be involved in learning activities with NGCV members from birth to old age, developing stronger personal skills and resilience - or a creative career - in the process.”

Clare Smith, Convenor of our Learning and Participation Network said, “Providing learning opportunities is a core mission for NGCV. All the members of our partnership share a common belief that participation in creative arts or science activity, can play an important part in developing personal, social and practical skills. Experience tells us it can also transform emotional wellbeing, foster new career paths, and support progression in formal education.  We are proud to serve the communities of the region with our exciting, innovative and creative learning offers.”