creative:connection is an award-winning creative arts programme which brings disabled and non-disabled school pupils together to create collaboratively. This week the biggest ever creative:connection project is taking place in Manchester and Salford in partnership with shopping centre owner intu, culminating in a live performance on the main stage at intu Trafford Centre.
Create is the UK’s leading charity empowering lives through the creative arts. It’s creative:connection programme, which won the Charity Awards’ Arts, Culture and Heritage Award in June, brings disabled and non-disabled children and young people the opportunity to work together with Create’s professional artists to make visual art, music, film and more.
From 10 – 14 July creative:connection will bring two pairs of schools together: in Manchester Grange School, which provides education for the “Autism Community” will pair with Loreto School; and in Salford Chatsworth High School, a school for pupils with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties and Autism will pair with New Park High School, a school for pupils with Special Educational Needs or social, emotional or mental health difficulties. Create’s professional musicians Mike Poyser, Bethan Roberts, Matthew Dunn and Emily Allen will work with the two pairs of schools to write musical pieces and songs exploring themes of ‘Manchester’ and ‘community.’
The four schools will then come together on Friday 14 July for a public performance of their original music on the main stage at intu Trafford Centre’s Orient Food Court. The shopping centre’s owner intu is also helping to fund the initiative which will strengthen local communities around intu Trafford Centre and staff will be mentoring pupils as part of its partnership with Create.
In a survey carried out by Scope and Mumsnet, four in 10 parents of children with disabilities reported that their child ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ has the opportunity to socialise with children without disabilities. Scope also found that two-thirds of the British public feel uncomfortable when talking to disabled people and that disabled people themselves think more interactions between disabled and non-disabled children would bring about improved attitudes towards disabled people. creative:connection has been designed to encourage the development of these positive attitudes among children and young people through the experience of collaborative expression.
Since 2013 Create has run creative:connection across England, from Cumbria to Kent. The programme has worked with 954 participants, 97% of them saying they had enjoyed the project and working with Create’s artists; 91% that it had developed their creativity and 89% that it developed their teamwork. In 2016/17, 100% of community partner staff rated creative:connection “successful overall.”
Nicky Goulder, Co-Founder and Chief Executive of Create, said:
“I can’t wait for creative:connection in Manchester and Salford. We haven’t run acreative:connection project with four schools before and it will be so inspiring to see how all the young people’s ideas come together to be expressed musically. We’re passionate about bringing together people and communities and, thanks to funding from intu, we have been able to mount this large project, which will culminate in a very special showcase at intu Trafford Centre on 14 July. I hope you can join us!”
Alexander Nicoll, corporate responsibility director at intu, said:
“We’re pleased once again to be working with Create to deliver this important project that will help foster more inclusive local communities and offer real opportunities for young people to learn and develop new skills. The showcase at intu Trafford Centre is an event that is certain to put smiles on the faces of our customers.”
In explaining why Create won the Arts, Culture and Heritage Award: the Charity Awards said:
“The judges felt the creative:connection project was particularly strong because it cut across boundaries rather than operating in silos, and offered something for everyone involved. Rather than focusing purely on delivery to service users, the charity was able to produce an intervention that rewarded all stakeholders – not just disabled people, but those who interacted with them too. The charity also impressed with the energy and engagement of the senior leadership. The charity used its networks and its personal connections to drive support and enthusiasm for its activities.”