The festive season is upon us! As we hang up our costumes, put away our props, roll up our flipchart and stash our sharpies for the Christmas break, we thought we’d take the opportunity to look back on how much we have enJOYed 2015…
Our major project this year was ‘Tales of Manchester Life’, a young women’s creative heritage project which we began delivery on in January and have only just finished evaluating! This project saw young women from Wythenshawe and Salford work together to create a promenade performance based on the life and times of Elizabeth Gaskell. The young women went on a number of trips and visits in the spring and took part in a series of drama, music and creative writing workshops, taking what they had learnt as inspiration. The final performances of ‘Gaskell, Interrupted’ took place at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House at the end of May and were very well received.
In July, we had great fun delivering a ‘Young People’s Creative Heritage Projects – Training & Networking Event’ based on our experience of delivering ‘Tales of Manchester Life’. It was great to meet a variety of culture, heritage and youth work professionals from across the region to discuss the challenges and benefits of this kind of work and to generate some exciting partnerships for the future.
We were able to extend the project into the autumn, giving the young women the opportunity to ‘take over’ Elizabeth Gaskell’s House for a day in November. They devised their own creative tour of the House and developed a number of activities for members of the public to take part in. This day was part of a national event for Kids in Museums Takeover Day and was a great success. We’re very grateful for the funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England which made the entirety of the ‘Tales of Manchester Life’ project possible. We also very much enjoyed working in partnership with both Tandem Theatre and Elizabeth Gaskell’s House on this project.
Alongside this year-long project, we were also lucky to work with some other incredible organisations on creative projects in 2015. As part of our schools programme, we delivered a series of workshops for World Book Day in March, including an action-packed day at Abraham Moss High School.
In May, we were honoured to be awarded the ‘Ally of the Year’ award by our friends at The Proud Trust (formerly LGBT Youth North West) and we returned to work with them on a performance project over the summer. Young people devised a performance on the theme of ‘Political Pride’ as part of an alternative programme of events over the Pride Weekend in August. This performance included dance, physical theatre and an original song written by the young people, with which the audience joined in enthusiastically!
In the autumn, we worked with a small group of young people at Just Drop In, a fantastic counselling and support service for young people in Macclesfield, helping them to develop their confidence and achieve the Bronze Arts Award.
Perhaps the most exciting development for enJOY arts as an organisation this year has been moving into our very own office space at the beautiful Elizabeth Gaskell’s House in October. This move was the result of striking up a great working relationship through the ‘Tales of Manchester Life’ project and we are looking forward to collaborating on more creative community projects in 2016 and beyond!