What a first week as Community Engagement Project Manager in the Learn and Join in Team!
I am thrilled to be taking on so many exciting projects and in all honesty, somewhat daunted at the prospect of filling Fays’ boots (whose maternity leave I’m covering) while she’s away.
Particularly exciting was my visit to Friction Arts earlier in the week to meet with their co-director Sandra Hall.
Fay and Sandra filled me in on the journey they had started four years ago after meeting at a community lunch where Sandra was calling out bingo numbers! From this initial meeting when Fay won a casserole pot they started to work together to develop a family programme within the Ladywood district called Concerts2Kerbstones (C2K).
Sandra and I hit it off immediately, especially when I got offered a cup of fine coffee and asked to make myself comfortable amongst all the artefacts and paraphernalia at the Edge. I felt immediately at ease in the wonderful space they call home and we proceeded to have a hugely creative discussion about C2K.
Exciting things came out of the meeting and I am greatly enthused about some of the work that Fay and Sandra have been planning over the summer which will involve many families and staff within the Ladywood District of Children Centres – including Summerfield, St Thomas, Ladywood and Lillian De Lissa.
The plans include mimed performances that will draw on everyday life activities like getting dressed, walking up and down stairs, vacuuming and eating food. Sandra explained that these activities provide a commonality that can support the engagement of all the participants. I was very interested to hear that Sandra’s approach to new groups, and generally in life is to first ask the question/s: “Who are we? What are we together?” Although quite simple, Sandra explained that she felt this was crucial to creating the unique artistic experiences that Friction Arts have at the heart of each piece of work.
In addition to the programme that Friction has been commissioned to deliver with us, the Children’s Centre’s will also receive our touring programme of Musical Picnic road shows. Our programming partners Mubu Music have lined up some fantastic local musicians who will take bite sized live performances out to the centres to encourage families to attend our popular monthly programme in Symphony Hall Café Bar.
We also have two teams of artists poised and ready to take sounds of Symphony Hall’s incredible Klais organ out of the building using digital technology, singing and movement as part of our SoundBounce programme,
Families participating in C2K will also be able to access tickets to our Christmas show at Town Hall – What the Ladybird Heard – and will be invited to attend events at our first ever Big Fun Festival and our new mid-week Musical Picnics!
As a brand new member of the team I have been blown away at the direction and progress of this project from where it was initially born, really with a game of Bingo four years ago. I very much look forward to taking over the reigns for a while, hopefully adding my own unique qualities as I also enter into the spirit of Sandra’s philosophy of “Who are we? What are we together?”
– Mohini Howard, Learn and Join In Community Engagement Project Manager (maternity cover)