Can resilience be accompanied by creative innovation?

Timescale: 1st February 2011 until 18th February 2011

As part of a programme we are delivering for Birmingham City Council's Arts & Young People's Team, we are delivering a seminar that asks the question whether resilience can be accompanied by creative innovation.  

The seminar asks whether we can improve ways of working, support service delivery and still achieve performance indicators whilst building in creative engagement - is the agenda all to much?  It will be regionally focused with a particular emphasis upon Birmingham. 

On the day we will look at partnership delivery based within local authority (fostering and adoption) and voluntary sector (refuge, homelessness, reparation) contexts.

The day includes open sessions with The People Speak, a creative collective that uses performance art, multi-media and technology to engage people in conversation and participation in fun interactive ways. The Talkaoke Table has been designed to be a fun and spontaneous talk-show.  With everyone sat around the flying saucer of chat, it's the ideal format for engaging people in an interactive participant-led discussion.  The host does not control the conversation rather he/she helps to facilitate the conversation.  For more information see   









Research Development

Over the weeks I have visited the Youth Offending Team and met with different staff. I have worked with the Reparation Team and with Project Workers who run groups such as Anger Management. I was also invited to give a short 10 minute presentation at the Staff Team Meeting about what I had been doing there to introduce the work to the wider team.

Some of the methods that I have discussed with staff over the weeks have inspired them to develop their own ideas. We discussed ways of collecting views, opinions and attitudes and the different creative methods that could be used for this, that would fit within their time restrictions. After discussing this further independently of me,the Reparation Team have decided to make a tree in the woodwork shop and collect thoughts and feelings of leaves which young people could make and attach. By making this a visual display they are able to inspire others to read and maybe add to the tree.

We have also looked at ways of exploring emotions and feelings, in particular with the Anger Management Group. Young people often clam up or find it hard to express how they feel. I was able to introduce staff to a creative method I had learnt and used in the past. It is an ice breaker to explore emotions and feelings as a whole spectrum, rather than just happy, sad and angry and to look at what triggers different emotions.

We have also started to explore the possibility of delivering Arts Awards and strategies for working with Artists and Arts Organisations. I feel that some of these things will need to be accepted more on an organisational level and will require endorsement from managers. The work has been very positively received so far and the staff I have worked closely with have been happy to try and explore ideas.

Artist Research Project

My research project is with St Basils. St Basils is a charity based in Birmingham that works to prevent youth homelessness by providing accommodation and support services for young adults aged 16 - 25.

My interest in basing my research with St Basils arose from previous work I had undertaken involving a series of drama and theatre related projects. During these projects I worked closely with their Executive Director, their Youth Involvement Coordinator, their Youth Advisory Board as well as a number of young adults working with St Basils to shape, design and deliver the projects. Through these previous projects I gained invaluable insights into the core deliverables of St Basils. I also developed an understanding of St Basil’s philosophy and commitment to "working with" young adults as opposed to working 'for' or on 'behalf of'. The experience gained on these previous projects continues to shape and influence my practice as an applied theatre and drama artist.

However, I was aware that my previous work with St Basils was over three years ago and that a lot had changed within the political and economic climate since that time - within this research I was interested in exploring how these changes were affecting an organisation like St Basils - and in particular, how were those changes impacting on St Basils previous strong commitment to promoting the arts within their core work with young people.

As well as emailing and meeting with a range of staff from St Basils I have also attended a Youth Advisory Board meeting. (The Youth Advisory Board is made up of Young Adults who are working with St Basils projects). During these interviews and sessions I have explored the questions of;

How do you think getting involved with the arts could positively affect what you do with St Basils?
What is the kind of 'getting involved' that you enjoy? Why?
What is the kind of 'getting involved' you don't enjoy? Why?
What types of approaches would help you to get involved more?
What kinds of approaches would make it hard for you to get involved?

Throughout the process I have also spoken to people about their ideas for possible future arts projects . Emerging ideas have included ways in which the arts could support St Basils deliver their core deliverables and ways in which the Youth Advisory Board could collaborate with artists and arts organisations to shape and design projects that meet the needs and interests of young adults working with St Basils.


Artist's Research Project

The research project I am undertaking is focussed around the core services of the Youth Offending Team. The first stage was really to meet with staff and get a sense of what the organisation does, what their core services are, what their aims and objectives are and how they currently engage with young people. Through consultation we looked at the barriers to engagement and the barriers towards using arts.

My first point of contact was the Reparation Team, who deliver some creative activities as a means of reparation (paying back or giving back to society), this is usually in the form of woodwork / carpentry projects which can be donated to charities and community groups. Some creativity and artwork is involved lead by Project Workers.

We looked at creative methods of engagement that could address some of the barriers they faced, in particular, young people's attitudes and perceptions of the arts and raising the profile of arts generally. I also met with Project Workers who run groups, such as Anger Management and again through a process of consultation we were able to identify some areas that could be enhanced by creative processes.

The staff are very keen to see what they can get out of this experience though their main limitations are time, funding / resources, and a need for relevance to the core service. For this reason we are looking at quick and effective techniques that they can use themselves as ice breakers or as ways of exploring views, opinions and attitudes.

Artists & Organisations Progress

Life is generally made up of small things, the large things come at you (both the good and the bad) but not so often as daily routine. The artists working on this programme will be updating their findings, mostly it will be the small things that they are learning, seeing, hearing. Learning about and changing these may not appear to drastically alter our daily lives, but in the longer term they undoubtedly effect change.

In 'Resilience and Creative Innovation', we are exploring how those who work with children and young people in Birmingham might more easily engage with creativity in the city. Not everyone will be able to join us on the 17th February at mac. So we are starting the discussion on line, and will be happy to respond to questions, thoughts, and challenges both before and afterwards.

Since the research is with a range of organisations, but very specific to each, some of our discussions will need to be general and anonymous. However, we will be sharing our thinking and recommendations for moving forward creative innovation.

We will particularly be exploring what artists might be able to bring to an organisation that doesn't have an artistic focus. We will consider how partnerships between the arts, children, and youth sectors might be better generated and consolidated.

The artists will introduce themselves and their work and discuss progress and share challenges here.