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Blackpool Grand Junior Artists from Blackpool’s Grand Theatre gathered in the theatre to celebrate their achievements and share their learning from this two-year after school arts and resilience programme.
Over 200 children from Blackpool were involved, working with a range of local and national artists to build their skills, strengthen resilience and develop their own creativity as they made new artworks and performances in response to the stories presented on our stage.
They have worked with James Wilton Dance Company, Metta Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in addition to local artists; Kate Eggleston-Wirtz, Sarah Gough, Melanie Whitehead, House of Wingz, Lisa Wigham, Shane Johnstone, Sarah Lockwood and Jenny Reeves. This new Creative Resilience Programme was designed for vulnerable young people and in the second-year they helped to programme and evaluate the work with us. The ‘voice’ of the children was essential to the project.
The Grand Junior Artists have performed their work on our stage and shared it in their own schools. Participating schools include; Thames Academy, Marton Academy, Mereside Primary, Anchorsholme Academy, Revoe Learning Academy, Park Community Academy and Boundary Primary.
We also worked with young people from Aspired Futures and the Blackpool Carers Centre.
Many of the children participating gained Arts Awards and as a result of the programme have felt confident enough to take part in other after school and lunchtime programmes.
The Grand Junior Artists have seen many shows at Blackpool’s Grand, with the artists they have explored to understand how characters deal with difficult situations.
Teachers have told us;
“He has turned his attitude and self-esteem around, from wanting his Mum when faced with difficulty, to having a ‘have a go’ attitude. His resilience is clear to see.’ (Thames Academy)
“This pupil has grown significantly in terms of her self-confidence and self-belief. This has allowed her to engage in situations and activities that she never would have done before…All the staff who have worked with her have quite simply been blown away by her growth in confidence.” (Anchorsholme Academy)
“I have seen this young person develop in several ways particularly her ability to adapt to different situations she is faced with. This has developed through the different skills the artist has been teaching which has encouraged her to get involved.” (Aspired Futures)
The Junior Artists have told us;
“To never give up if things are tough.”
“I have learnt not to be socially awkward.”
“It helps me be more confident in other things that I’m not used to.”
“I have learnt how to understand other people’s feelings and how to feel through dance.”
“We talk about mental health a lot, like when we were all finding out what The Storm means (James Wilton Dance Co), and then I put my hand up and said it’s all about mental health, it’s like, you can’t see it, but it’s there.”
Ruth Eastwood, Chief Executive Blackpool Grand Theatre said “as a result of being involved in this programme; 80% of the Junior Artists tell us their confidence has increased and their creative voice has developed, 76% of them tell us they are better at group work, and 70% tell us they are better at expressing themselves.
Its just incredible and we are delighted in the confidence an expression it has given the children.”
The Grand Junior Artist Project was kindly supported by the Ragdoll Foundation, Blackpool Council and Curious Minds. Blackpool’s Grand was additionally supported by Boing Boing and the The University of Brighton.”
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