Here’s a round-up of what we’ve been doing this year, and a few personal highlights…
The highlight of the year for me was the challenge of running the Community Learning ceramics project throughout the summer. We found out at the end of May that we had been successful in our funding application to North Yorkshire County Council and Your Consortium to work with 72 people and the project had to be completed by September!
We had to provide 12 hours of training and the groups I had identified were Northdale Horticulture, Broadacres Women’s Refuge and Mental Health support group, Independus group, The Boot Shop in Easingwold, Jennyruth Workshops in Harrogate and Ripon Community Link. We offered 2-day workshops in ceramics and some sessions were here at The Courthouse and some at the venues where the groups met.
Artists Angela, Debbie and Shirley provided patience, guidance and fantastic encouragement and helped each person to design and make a tile and a 3D object and the highlight of the project was seeing the sense of achievement when they had the opportunity to create something unique which they would have the opportunity to exhibit. By the end of the summer we had worked with 80 people and all the participants and family and friends were invited to a celebration event and exhibition at The Courthouse with tea and homemade cake!
We had over 90 people attending and it was great to see their reactions and give them the opportunity to have their work displayed in a professional setting – we even had visitors wanting to buy some of the work!! The success of the project has enabled us to continue the project this year with the Probation service and we will be working with 42 women in Selby, Northallerton, Skipton and Harrogate starting in the New Year.
My Highlight of the year is bringing Faye on board as my apprentice, she has come into the cafe with an amazing work ethic and she is going from strength to strength every day. Claire Taylor aka The Cake Fairy has asked me whether she can take Faye as her assistant to the Yorkshire Show 2014 due to the amazing support she gave Claire when we were holding the Halloween biscuit decorating workshop at the Courthouse.
I spent a brilliant few months with Rural Arts this year as an intern, working with Chloe and Ellen in the ON Tour office. I have a huge number of happy memories from working with RANY, but I think our Create Tour performances with Phoenix Dance Theatre in East Cleveland have to be my personal highlight.
This project gave young people from an area with very low engagement with the arts the opportunity to work alongside a leading contemporary dance company with an international reputation. The young people who took part were able to create some exceptional dance work under the guidance of some of the best dancers the UK has to offer – and at no cost to the young people. I’m still very proud to have been involved with Create Tour, and wish Rural Arts the best of luck with it in 2014!
At the time it didn’t feel like it, but my highlight has to be the final Create Tour (read what Create Tour is here https://www.ruralarts.org/createtour/) performance of the year in Danby. An hour and a half’s drive from our base in Tadcaster the journey took in some of Yorkshire’s, shall we say, most scenic and challenging roads and we were getting there by minibus (thanks to North Yorkshire Youth Service) with youth worker Abda at the wheel.
When Friday came, we all set off with plans of an after show party and fun to be had by all…Well, before we even got to the FLOODS it turned out our trusty minibus couldn’t quite hack the moor, and to get it uphill meant getting out and walking alongside it, when we overcame that hurdle it was literally all down hill from there as road after road was closed due to flooding and drivers told us to turn back every way we went. This ‘act of God’ was the sort of thing you write about on the risk assessment but never think will actually happen and it is fair to say that at the time it wasn’t funny, we were all very worried and my parka coat (next time Create Tourers if I say bring a coat, bring a coat!) was worn by a lot of the team, but thanks to some amazing community spirit and tremendous help from passers by, we got to our destination.
Getting on stage half an hour late and having to leave in the interval, it sounds like it should be a lowlight but not only did the experience make for some hilarious ad-libbing from the young people while they were performing, it also showed me that when disaster strikes people of all ages really will go the extra mile to help; from the man that spent his evening letting us follow him so we went the safest way, to one Create-Tourer calming the other down, and our volunteer promoter Les making sure we all got a brew when we arrived, to Barbershopera STILL smiling and singing despite having the same ordeal!
A HUGE thanks to everyone who helped with ALL the Create Tour projects BRING ON 2014!!
For me one of the many highlights this year has been watching the Create Tour grow from strength to strength. From the first high-octane outing in the Wolds – where there was certainly room for improvement – to the final 2013 project with Barbershopera, which was a fully fledged professional rural tour!
I have really enjoyed working with all the young people and seeing huge changes in many of them; in their behaviour, well-being, confidence and even attitude to life!
The other great moments were attending the NRTF conference and successfully mentoring 18 young people in achieving Bronze Arts Award – which you can read about in other blog posts!
My highlight for the year has to be working with a fantastic bunch of young people on our ‘Young Curators’ medieval inspired ceramics and glass project. This is the first outreach project I’ve worked on at Rural Arts and I’ve loved being involved from the very start. The young people participating have made some fantastic artwork and we’ve had some brilliant visits to local heritage sites together, they’re a really hard working group. The results of our kiln firing days in the autumn are so impressive, and in April 2014 we’ll be helping the group exhibit their artwork at the Hall at Fountains Abbey. I can’t wait to see it on show!