Tag Archives: Young People

Hi there!

Alex Heaton - Intern - June 2016 - 2My name is Alex and I am in my second month as Assistant Producer Intern at Mid Pennine Arts, where I feel incredibly lucky and excited to be undertaking my placement year. I have just finished my second year of University, studying Illustration and Contemporary Art at Huddersfield, but come from the local area. This meant I already knew about Mid Pennine Arts and some of their amazing work. I wanted to join MPA because I am passionate about bringing arts to the community and I feel there is sometimes an absence of this, and MPA do a wonderful job of engaging a wide community for their work.

I am going to be helping Nick, Melanie and the other project managers with some of the projects as they advance towards their completion, which I find brilliant as I have never been involved with projects on such a large scale before. A few I have been helping out with are: Burnley Canal Festival (27 & 28 August 2016), Spodden Valley Revealed and 50 Years of Mid Pennine Arts.

I have only been at MPA for four weeks and already feel as though I am growing, both in learned skills and confidence. So far I have attended a lot of meetings, these help me gain more in-depth knowledge about the projects, how they are brought together, and how good communication is an important part of the process. This has, slowly but surely, been helping me with my confidence. I have also been minute taking, which is really useful, as it is helping me learn to write down key points when making notes, rather than writing down every part (no matter how irrelevant)!

We recently had a Spodden Valley Explorers event at Whitworth family fun day, where a few of us went down in our exploring gear and welcomed new explorers, helping them make badges and inviting them to share their stories of the area. This was to raise awareness of the Spodden Valley Revealed Project. It was great seeing both kids and adults alike join in on the fun, and wonderful how excited everyone was when the final badges came out. I have to say I got a bit too enthusiastic about the badge making myself. I feel as though badge making brings out the inner child in everyone, though some people won’t readily admit it!

Whitworth-Family-Fun-Day - 3.7.16

I have also been helping with the 50 Years of Mid Pennine Arts project, and have found reading through the old programmes and press cuttings really interesting, as I am scanning them in preparation for the digital archive. This sometimes proves to be quite hilarious, when any member of the team finds a particularly funny story or headline. Though we do sometimes have to drag ourselves out of the time warp, as you could get lost in them for days!

Along with the many lovely and wonderful people I have been given the opportunity to meet, I am very excited to say that this week I will be meeting the artist Lucy Birbeck, who is creating the flags for Burnley Canal Festival. I can’t wait to know a bit more about her working process, and I feel I have lots to learn from her.

Four weeks has flown by, and I can’t quite believe how much I have already learned at MPA. I always start each day with excitement when thinking about all the projects that are in progress, and I am so excited about the parts I am going to be here to see all the way through – like Burnley Canal Festival! I can’t wait to learn more from the kind and helpful team at MPA and all those I encounter while working here, and I would like to thank everyone I have met so far for being so friendly and great.

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‘My Brothers and Sisters’

Another in the series from our roving arts reporter, David Smith.

“Is it easier this way? Is it? Blame someone else because you didn’t have a clue what was happening…does it make you feel better to blame someone else?”

brothers and sisters 1

I was in London earlier this month and saw a piece of Theatre in Education written for 16-19 year-olds in Further Education presented by a professional company: Mad ‘Ed Theatre.

The play opens on a bare stage with six chairs as props. You now have no option but to focus on the actors and their words without distraction. The 55 minute production is emotionally charged, moving, and totally engaging. It focuses on a single Muslim family over a period of 48 hours.

Two strong female characters emerge: a teenager, Shamilla and her mother played brilliantly by the same actor, Alexandra D’Sa. Rupinder Nagra as the father, provides a mature strong acting presence deeply troubled by what he learns, by what he should have known. Rishi Nair, Shamilla’s confident boyfriend, slowly learns truths about himself he has failed to recognise. Hayley Powell as a solicitor and the troubled teenager Aisha successfully captures two hugely contrasting characters.

It opens with two police officers visiting the household. The parents think that the visit is in response to their earlier report that their 15 year-old daughter Shamilla is missing. The police have, in fact, come about another matter. Their son, believed by his parents to be on a package holiday, has posted an on-line message from Syria. The parents, hard-working, long-standing members of the community have no understanding about what is happening around them within their own family. Their daughter Shamilla, has spent the last 24 hours with an older boyfriend who, when he realises what has happened to her brother, takes her home.

Mother:           Our children are not our children. Not anymore.

                          We do not know our own children. Nobody does.    

The play is multi-layered. The characters: Shamilla, her parents, her boyfriend, police officers, a solicitor and a troubled teenager, act out a range of views on radicalisation, racism, attitudes to young people, sexism, immigration and the value of our education system. But the large question which dominates is the issue of responsibility. Each character is forced to ask: ‘What has been my contribution to what has transpired?’‘Could I have done more to prevent it?’

The emotionally charged scenes between mother and father show a couple learning not only about what has been happening around them but also about their own relationship. But it is also true that the interaction between all the characters shows each one gradually coming to a deeper, and at times a painful understanding of themselves.

brothers and sisters 2

The final scenes show the daughter Shamilla made a Ward of Court and removed from the family home to ‘a place of safety’ – a hostel – where she shares a room with a deeply troubled girl, Aisha. After a strong exchange between the two girls as they talk about why they are in this place, the play ends with:

Aisha:              Your brother…did you tell someone?

                          A moment of silence..then…

Shamilla:         I do know about this. I do know about this.

                           The girls hold each other’s hand.

Shamilla:         So. Will we? Tell?

 

As an excellent piece of theatre in education the play does not offer any answers but offers enough for an audience to debate the issues involved.

The play, My Brothers and Sisters, was not paid for by the ‘Prevent’ programme. It was  commissioned and paid for by City of Westminster College in London as a part of its response to the ‘Prevent’ Strategy. I congratulate the College on the way that the play has been compulsory viewing for all full-time students and not been limited to drama groups. It has been seen by all 5,000 of their students over two weeks and has included two evening performances for other interested theatre goers.

After each performance, a series of resources has enabled tutors to lead discussions of the issues raised, issues identified by their students, in their tutor groups. This is no “love ’em and leave ’em” approach; it is the way theatre in education should work – best practice.

(The play is available to tour by contacting Mad ‘Ed directly.)

Shamilla:         Bad people get good people to do bad things.     

In Praise of Julie

David Smith reflects on MPA’s relationship with the lovely Julie Hesmondhalgh.

Julie…Julie Hes…Julie Hesmondhalgh….Hayley Cropper…we all loved Hayley and now she’s gone….

I met Julie in the mid eighties.  I was dropping my son Craig off and picking him up each day at a three-week long summer drama course at Moorhead High School in Accrington.  Julie was a part of a friendship group of very talented girls who after A-Level Theatre Studies at Accrington and Rossendale College all went off to drama school in London together.

Julie-Hesmondhalgh-2292864

Julie kept in touch with Craig whilst they were both in London and recommended him for a job acting and writing for theatre with the West Yorkshire based Company Impact.  At that time Craig tipped us off to go to see Julie at the Royal Exchange in Much Ado About Nothing where she was performing alongside her great friend Joseph Alessi son of an Accrington tailor..  She had two small roles: a maid and a soldier night watchman.  It was here that she was spotted by a casting director from Coronation Street and you know what happened from there…

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In 2001 Mid Pennine Arts was working on a major environmental arts community engagement programme called Land.  It was supporting the iconic Panopticons project.  A part of the programme was a project called Trees for Babies.  In partnership with Trees for Burnley we created a new woodland at Rowley Country Park recruiting young families from the Edith Watson Maternity Unit in Burnley.  Julie and her partner Ian Kershaw had a young daughter, Martha Mo.  When asked if she would come to a celebratory event to meet the families involved and present them with a special memento of their involvement not only did she agree without hesitation, and refuse to accept a fee, but she brought two month old Martha Mo with her!  It was an evening to remember. The clue to Julie’s feeling for people was the way she engaged with the young children who came along, making time to speak to each one as they came up with their family to receive a hand-made book:  Trees for Babies…and of course we planted a tree in the new woodland for Martha Mo.

Did you know that Julie asked her fellow cast members not to buy her a present on leaving ‘the Street’?  She asked them to make a donation instead to a charity in Accrington: possibly ‘Maundy Relief’ for which she is a patron.

….and back to the drama course at Moorhead High School in the mid eighties…who set up and managed the project?  Mid Pennine Arts, of course! Have you heard the theory about the importance of the eco structure that exists in the arts, supporting and developing early signs of talent…?  Mid Pennine’s role here is a small example of how it works.  That course was important for me too.  I was so impressed by the school that I went on to work there as Deputy Head for 13 years and then came to Mid Pennine Arts having seen at first hand what it can create and deliver for the communities it serves.

…and what of Julie?  Go to see her at the Royal Exchange in February in Simon Stephen’s new play Blindsided.  Then you might return to see her astonishing performance in Black Roses: the killing of Sophie Lancaster.  Julie is a terrific actress who has never forgotten her roots in Pennine Lancashire .

Yes, we all love Julie…

A Volunteer’s Progress

Dominique Dunand-Clarke reflects on her time with MPA (so far)!

On a warm April morning in 2011 I crossed the park and climbed the steep hill to Clitheroe Castle, I was going to take part in an arts project which I knew involved the Castle, a composer and a recording of my voice as I hummed a song. As somebody who has never listed singing as one of my talents I was a little apprehensive. I soon realised I needn’t have been when I met Rebecca Alexander and Lucy Green, two members of the Mid Pennine Arts team, who were very friendly and put me at my ease as well as assuring me that however bad my singing was the talented compositional skills of Ailís Ní Ríain would transform the sound!

My first day at MPA

The project was called Taken and Ailís did indeed create a beautiful sound installation from the donated hums of the local people who took part, which was played in the castle keep for a year and transformed the space. While I was at the castle I plucked up the courage to ask Lucy and Rebecca if I would be able to volunteer for Mid Pennine Arts to gain some experience while I was at university.

I am glad I did because three years later and I’m still here and have gained experience in an extremely wide variety of areas including: assisting artists with research to dressing as an Elizabethan Lady of the Manor; updating MPA’s website to hanging photographs outdoors in the rain, on a windy day in Burnley’s town centre, which as most people who work in the arts will know, is a very useful skill to master.

A windy day in Burnley.

While volunteering for MPA I have had the opportunity to gain training such as being qualified to deliver the bronze and silver arts awards as well as learning about marketing and project management. After I graduated from university and was looking for employment within the arts it was invaluable to be volunteering for an organisation with so many contacts within the arts community and my work with MPA certainly enabled me to apply for my current job in arts management.

Flicker

Volunteering has been a hot topic recently with questions raised about how helpful it is to volunteer as an unemployed young person. I would say that if you volunteer for the right organisation you get back what you put in. Mid Pennine Arts has certainly been the right organisation for me and I am still enjoying my varied role here, the best part of it being that I am never bored!

If you would like the opportunity to find out more about volunteering with Mid Pennine Arts, do not hesitate to email me. I am normally in the office every Friday however I will be out of the office on Friday 17th and Friday 24th of January.

Opportunities for accomplished project managers at Mid Pennine Arts

Mid Pennine Arts is recruiting.   We need additional support to help us maintain and extend our busy portfolio of creative learning and community engagement projects.  We are therefore seeking one or more experienced, versatile project managers, initially on short term agreements, but with the opportunity to develop longer term relationships.  If you have a strong track record of developing and delivering high quality, project-based work, and would like to contribute to the work of our team, we would love to hear from you.

About Us

MPA is the commissioning agency based in Pennine Lancashire and developing projects across Lancashire and beyond.  We commission high quality creative work through a variety of collaborations and in response to the distinctive contexts of our natural, built and social environments.  Our projects interrogate and celebrate what is unique about our area, our heritage and our communities.  We aim to originate exciting creative work that has lasting impact for participants, audiences and our project partners.  MPA brings art, people and places together to transform perceptions and change lives.

MPA was established in 1966 and has a long and proud track record of working in our communities.  Our work is centred on contemporary visual arts but uses a broad creative palette.  MPA has developed specialisms in commissioning work in landscape and public spaces and in heritage settings.  Our portfolio of recent work has included the Panopticons contemporary landmarks and the Contemporary Heritage series of major new commissions in heritage locations.  All of our projects include dimensions of engagement and learning for young people and adults.

Over many years we have built up a reputation for high quality work especially with schools and young people.  MPA works with some 60 schools each year.  In 2013 our creative learning team have made advisory visits to 90 schools, working in partnership with the ACE Bridge Organisation, Curious Minds, as cultural advocates for Lancashire.

Key partners for MPA projects have recently included local authorities, Lancashire Museums, environmental agencies and our fellow arts organisations.  We believe strongly in collaboration and all of our work is developed through a variety of partnerships.

MPA attracts funding from a variety of sources, including Arts Council England, Lancashire County Council and lottery distributors.  With less revenue funding now available, we generate funds project by project, from multiple sources, to help sustain our organisation.  All our team contribute to this effort, which is vital to our future.

Our Team

MPA maintains a multidisciplinary team to originate, curate and project manage our busy programme.  In autumn 2013 a number of circumstances will be reducing this team, but MPA’s programme will be busier than ever.  So we are seeking additional support.

We have a number of projects already in progress and further exciting projects in development.  So we want to reinforce our team as soon as we can.  We are therefore seeking experienced, versatile individuals who might be available at relatively short notice to contribute to our team over the next few months.

Our Programme

Projects already confirmed include these:

  • Portraits of the Past – an extended engagement programme built around our Contemporary Heritage commission at Gawthorpe Hall and celebrating the place of this Jacobean gem in the life of the local community.
  • Youth Music – Two new projects resourced by this lottery fund and engaging groups of young people and early years children.
  • Creative Communities – A programme of structured volunteering for young adults, funded by Awards for All, providing opportunities to work with us on a variety of exciting projects.
  • Burnley Rivers – Partnership work with the Urban Rivers Enhancement Scheme to celebrate the Brun and the Calder.

In addition a number of projects in development are likely to add to our workload in the near future:

  • Contemporary HeritageMajor new commissions for 2014 and beyond, and engagement programmes to support them.
  • Spodden Valley Revealed – Creatively interpreting the ancient and modern heritage of the area around Whitworth.
  • The Three Towers – A strategic partnership programme to celebrate the heritage and realise the destination potential of the West Pennine Moors.
  • Super Wet Way – Participation in a major new partnership programme themed around the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, with Canal & River Trust, our fellow arts organisations and others.
  • Truce – An engagement programme for Accrington throughout 2014, marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.

We will also be continuing to originate projects and develop partnerships.

The Opportunity

We would like to identify probably two individuals to join our team on a part-time, short term, contract basis.  Initially we are able to offer a term of around three months, but we are looking to identify contributors with whom we can establish a relationship for the longer term.  In the future, we anticipate maintaining a more flexible workforce that can adapt swiftly to changing circumstance, so we are keen to build a group of regular associates.

Terms are flexible according to experience, but as a guide we envisage basing the remuneration on a full time salary of £20,000 to £23,000 (pro rata) for a commitment of around 2.5 to 3 days per week over three months.  This is open to negotiation for the self-employed and for exceptional candidates.  Proven capacity to help generate further income may be an influential factor.

Person Specification

The individuals we seek will be able to evidence certain core skills:

  • Substantial experience of managing complex or extended projects.
  • Experience of working with a wide variety of people.
  • Accustomed to building partnerships and working collaboratively.
  • Excellent written communication skills, and ability to produce convincing funding proposals and project reports.
  • Highly organised, capable of multi-tasking and prioritising a busy workload.
  • A self-starter able to identify opportunities and realise them.
  • A team player who will enjoy working collaboratively within the MPA team.
  • An understanding of our geographical area (social-economic context) or of comparable communities.

In addition, you should have one or more specialism(s) that will be particularly relevant to our programme of work:

  • Creative learning work, with an understanding of the National Curriculum and experience of key programmes like Arts Awards and Artsmark.
  • Contemporary visual arts, with experience of curating work outside of the gallery setting.
  • Experience of work in landscape, the natural environment and rural contexts.
  • Community engagement, with a range of resources for effectively involving groups and individuals in creative projects.
  • A focus on heritage and the rich fund of creative possibilities that it offers.
  • Issues around sense of place, destination and local identity.

How to Apply

If this sounds like you, we would love to hear from you.

Please apply, using our standard job application form (downloadable from our website) to highlight your most relevant experience and your reasons for wanting to work with MPA.  You should attach an up to date CV, and a covering letter if you wish.  Please submit by email only to:

melanie@midpenninearts.org.uk

Please submit your application by Friday 30 August.  There is no formal timetable for recruitment, but we aim to act without delay.  We will acknowledge all applicants.  If you are shortlisted, we will invite you for interview as soon as can be arranged.

To find out more about us and our projects look at our website, Facebook page and Vimeo channel.  If you have any questions about our work or this opportunity, please contact Melanie Diggle, MPA Finance & Admin Director, as above, or on 01282 421986.

Changes afoot!

MPA Creative Director Nick Hunt reports on some big changes ahead for our busy Creative Learning team.

Change is in the air!  And change is good, of course, but sometimes it takes a little bit of getting used to.  At MPA our team is grappling with the implications of a quick-fire sequence of news items about individuals who have made themselves very important to us…

StephFirst, we would like to announce that our Programme Manager for Creative Learning, Dr Stephanie Hawke, will be moving on in September to a new, strategic role with our partners at Curious Minds.  Curious Minds is the Arts Council’s bridge organisation for the North West region, responsible for connecting young people with the arts.  Our team work regularly with them, delivering advisory and consultancy work, and this is a natural progression for Steph, and a new dimension for that partnership.  It’s a terrific opportunity and we are delighted for her.

Steph has spent three and a half years on the MPA team, but the connection goes back much further, to a work experience stint as a 16 year old!  Since our teenage volunteer reappeared she has made a vital contribution to our work.  Her academic background in museum education, and her doctoral specialisms in sense of place and the notion of the ecomuseum have brought new dimensions to our work and have underpinned some lovely projects.  We are glad Steph will still be just down the hill, and we are plotting to ensure that MPA continues to benefit from some of that arcane wisdom.

DavidAnd then there is David.  There has always been David, or so it seems to most of us.  But shortly after Steph’s news, David Smith let us know that he is ready to take the work out of the work/life balance.  Our Creative Learning Coordinator will be retiring at the end of October, and MPA will have to learn to get by without our spiritual guide.

David arrived in 1999 as our lottery funded Education Officer.  MPA’s work with schools took off, and developed exponentially.  Over 13 years he has built up an unmatched range of contacts with schools and teachers, and delivered some wonderful, inspirational creative projects.  Two years ago, David swapped jobs with Steph, in one of those rare examples of turkeys voting for Christmas.  Now he is taking the next step, and he will be very much missed.

This is a busy time for MPA, with a number of new projects in progress and in development.  Portraits of the Past will be connecting many young people with Gawthorpe Hall.  New music projects have been developed for young women of mixed cultures and early years pupils.  Our structured volunteering programme will signpost opportunities for Arts Awards and other qualifications.  Pennine Lancashire’s new canal partnership will add rich possibilities, as will our developing Contemporary Heritage series over the next couple of years.  Learning and engagement will be vital dimensions of all our projects, and so we will be recruiting shortly to renew our team’s skillset.  We are working now with our trustees on plans for that.

Meanwhile we will be saying bye and thanks to two brilliant contributors to MPA.  If you are one of the many people who have worked with David over the years, ask us for news of how we will be marking his departure.  Just don’t tell David!

Castle Hill and The Iron Man

Castle Hill Primary reflect on their experiences of studying The Iron Man:

This half-term, the children in 5/6H at Castle Hill Primary School have enjoyed studying works by the local author, Ted Hughes.

The text we focused on during our project was The Iron Man.  One of the ways we have made the text come alive is by producing and displaying artwork inspired by the book.  Currently on display in our junior hall are some beautiful paintings inspired by the famous first chapter of the book.

We have been lucky enough to work with a ceramicist (Sarah McDade) and a storyteller (Ursula Holden-Gill).  The children have produced beautiful clay images of The Iron Man which we can’t wait to see again once they have been fired in the kiln.  With Ursula, the children explored the characters of the book in detail and are now in the process of planning their own ‘prequel’ to the book entitled How The Iron Man Came to Be.

At Castle Hill, we enjoy inviting parents into school to share our work by viewing our class assemblies.  For our assembly this half-term, we created a giant cut-out model showing what we thought The Iron Man may have looked like.  The children co-wrote a set of instructions entitled How to build The Iron Man based on clues hidden within the narrative in chapter one of the book.  We imagined that after his fall from the cliff, we had been given the task of reassembling him, piece by piece.  During the assembly, we then constructed our Iron Man in front of a captivated audience.

Castle Hill