The “Heads, Hearts and Hands” project has been developed by arts and cultural programme manager Jenny Young to encourage and develop access and participation in the arts for looked after children and young people, and the adults in their lives.
Jenny, who was born in Darlington and has more than 10 years’ experience working in the arts and cultural sector most recently at the Sage Gateshead, secured the support of Creative Darlington and Darlington Borough Council for the project.
Project partners include Darlington Civic Theatre, Jabberwocky Market organisers Luxi, Theatre Hullabaloo, ODDMANOUT Theatre, Forum Music Centre, the D Project, Scrap Arts Studios, Culture Bridge North East and national organisations including Thempra, Jacaranda and the Social Pedagogy Development Network.
The project has already engaged with more than 50 children, young people and adults from foster families and residential homes during a creative day held at the Forum Music Centre in July. Participants had their say about what art and culture means to them and what creative activities they would like to engage with in the town. They also had the chance to take part in different activities throughout the day including graffiti, music making, Djing, Mcing, drama and crafts. The day was incredibly positive for all involved.
“We are working with arts and cultural organisations and the local authority to develop a visionary, cultural strategy for looked after children and the adults in their lives who may often miss out on the arts.
“It will help individual artists as well as organisations to develop what they can offer, so that it can meet children and young people’s needs and help encourage more of them to take part in arts and cultural activities.
“We’ll be offering training to those involved and will work closely with carers and members of the Council’s children’s services to ensure that children and young people have the support they need to enable them to take part.
“There will also be a chance for the children and young people, and the adults in their lives to help shape content of workshops as the project develops, through a series of consultation events.
“Darlington is my home town and I’m so excited to be able to offer this service to looked after children and young people, and I’m thrilled to have won the support of Arts Council England, Creative Darlington and the Council. I have funding for 12 months but am hoping to develop a long term plan by securing further grant funding and sponsorship from local companies.”
Bill Vince, Senior Relationship Manager at Arts Council England, said:
“The Arts Council is committed to ensuring that all children and young people are able to access arts and culture, so I’m delighted that we are funding the Heads, Hearts and Hands project. It is a great example of how organisations can work together to offer everyone the opportunity to engage in arts and cultural activity which can be truly life changing. I’m looking forward to seeing how the activity develops in the coming months.”
Councillor Cyndi Hughes, Darlington Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said:
“We want to ensure every child in Darlington has the best possible start in life and access to all the area has to offer, which includes a thriving arts and cultural sector.”
Stephen Wiper, Creative Darlington Manager, added:
“We are committed to ensuring every child and young person has the opportunity to experience the richness of the arts, museums and libraries and we’re delighted that Arts Council England has agreed to support this initiative.