ExPANding and Bursting with Energy
17th July 2017
We have just finished the first full year of our Expansion Programme, with all three projects rolled out in three cities across the UK.
Over 60 young people from marginalised or challenging communities have had the chance to develop their creativity and find positive ways to speak out, have fun and share their work with others.
It has really happened; we have seeded three new projects in partner organisations and we are well on the way to making those projects self-sustaining and independent. This has been a dream for many years and was made possible with a grant from the wonderful Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.
For the last year Pan artists have been travelling weekly to run regular drama based workshops for groups of:
- Young refugees and migrants in Pegasus Theatre, Oxford
- Female survivors of trafficking with Medaille Trust in Broadstairs
- Hard to reach youth at the Oakland Centre in Birmingham
Each group has had a different trajectory but the point in common is that the participants all live lives with considerable difficulties and they would not have otherwise been able to access creative work which is tailor-made for them. The projects enable them to explore ways of expressing themselves, ways of realising that their ideas can be respected and enjoyed as they become scenes or videos and that reclaiming their creativity is empowering and fun.
Many participants had never been in a theatre workshop (or any kind of workshop), never thought about being able to offer their ideas and see them take shape and never been on a stage in front of others to share what they had created. So the journeys they made were challenging and exciting and for those of us who led the work it has been wonderful to see the change in so many people. There are many, many great memories of the unexpected and often funny moments which characterised the year.
The idea of Expansion is that Pan should be able to withdraw after two years and the partner organisations will continue the work. To this end we have been training trainers who will take this on. Already eight trainers are gathering skills to be able to do this and some of them are running summer projects without us before we begin the second year in September. The handover is on track!
The groups which finished their year with a shared performance proved once again that although the process over the year is fundamental to growth, the act of performing takes people’s confidence and sense of achievement to new levels. Nerves have to be overcome but the act of sharing with a live audience is incredibly life affirming.
We have seen this so often in our London groups and it was reinforced through the Expansion experience. All the feedback has been incredibly positive, speaking of new discoveries, increased self esteem, making friends, working as a bonded group, achieving the previously unimaginable, and of the strength of a safe place to work with people like themselves.
So much travelling is tiring but Pan’s artists have done a fantastic job in planting the seeds for the work to grow in the coming years.
We’ll tell you more about that soon!