This year Ashcroft Arts Centre was granted £25,000 from Heritage Lottery Fund, and ran a film project with five local secondary schools from January to July 2011, including over 50 young people in Fareham and Gosport.
All five groups carried out research into our local area and each chose a specific story to look into further. They visited Hampshire Records Office and Westbury Manor museum to find out more. Then they worked with professional film company Cass Productions, to create their own interpretation of these stories.
All of the young people were celebrated and congratulated for being part of this project at the Ashcroft Awards Ceremony on Friday 8 July, when particular achievements and talents were recognised with group and individual awards.
Running since 2006, the Schools Arts Festival enables young people, their teacher and professional theatre makers to collaborate in making new pieces of theatre which are then performed at the Ashcroft during the summer term.
2010 Festival – Who Cares?
The 2010 festival explored the idea of social conscience. What is happening in the world and is it any of our concern? The schools all benefited from a workshop with Oxfam and most are used Verbatim theatre techniques to explore the subject matter.
2009 Festival– Human Wrongs
The pieces looked at issues such as Child Soldiers and Domestic Violence with young people working alongside Shared Experience, The Paperbirds and the Red Cross. The festival attracted audience numbers in excess of 200 people.
From September 2009- August 2010 the Ashcroft worked on the module “Artefact” with three schools in the local area that delivered the Creative & Media Diploma; Brookfield School, Porchester Community School and Brune Park Community College. Working with theatre designers and seeing their designs in Ashcroft performance, the project allowed young people to discover more about the creative process involved in theatre design.
Pupils in Year 8 at Cams Hill School were given the opportunity to design a piece of installation art which was then on display at the school for 2 weeks. The project was funded by Creative Partnerships and involved collaboration between the Ashcroft Arts Centre and Winchester based professional artist Alex Hoare.
The project came about from a desire to further strengthen the relationship between Cams Hill School and the Ashcroft. It was designed to explore creativity in its broadest sense, looking at how young people develop creative problem solving. Creativity is now a sought after skill in employment and this project was seeking to explore ideas to allow a greater degree of flexibility and freedom within the school environment whilst ensuring the young people covered the necessary skills and subjects required.
The project was inspired by a performance of Michael Morpurgo’s Farm Boy at the Ashcroft which all students in Year 8 attended. Using that as a starting point, a group of those young people worked more intensively exploring what creativity is and how it can help with learning.
Installation art uses three dimensional pieces to influence the way the audience sees a space. For their installation, the young people were able to create anything they wanted to reflect their learning as long as they used materials available during the First World War period.
The young people developed soundscapes, film, a recreation of the trenches, the inside of a living room and even food as part of their installation which was viewed by pupils and staff as well as parents and visitors including Mark Hoburn, MP.
In the evaluation of the project, Creative Partnerships noted
“This is a great sounding project, which seems to have achieved a significant amount for an Enquiry project. The carefully observed evaluation, seems to show significant social development in the chosen children. On top of this there seems to be evidence that there has been impact academically too. The fact that the "current assessments place almost all of the children a whole [or 2] attainment level higher than at the start of the year in at least 3 subjects" shows the impact of this…The continued links with Ashcroft should help. Well done to all.”
Following the success of our joint ‘Heartbreak Soup’ project in 2009, in 2010/11 Ashcroft worked with Redlands Primary School on two arts-based projects. This is a thriving partnership which benefits staff, children and the Arts centre.
‘To the Sea’ Autumn 2010
Ashcroft Arts Centre worked with Years 5 and 6 at Redlands Primary School to creatively explore their topic of ‘The Sea’. The children worked with arts professionals in music production, story-telling, dance and set design. They created their own original production called ‘To the Sea’ and performed to parents and staff in January 2011.
“I enjoyed making the music the best because everyone loved it and it was really fun to play around with different sounds. I have learnt how to make a show and do drama really well” (Amy)
“I have learnt that working with other people who work outside school is really good” (Rhys)
‘Monster Animation’ Spring 2011
Ashcroft Arts Centre worked with Years 1 and 2 at Redlands Primary School to develop their basic arts skills in an interesting way. The children worked with an artist to learn how to mould plasticine animals, with an animator and professional equipment to create an original animation and then with a musician to write a soundtrack. Their film was screened to the rest of the school and to parents in March 2011.
“We liked making the plasticine monsters and making monster noises into the microphone” (Year 1)
“It was great for the children to have the opportunity to do something they wouldn’t usually have the chance to do, thank you very much – it was a lovely project!” (Year 2 teacher)
Drama tutors from Ashcroft Arts Centre helped children in Year 1 and Year 2 at Crofton Hammond Infant School produce their very own original performance – ‘Our Country, Our Story’.
The children were learning about the ‘United Kingdom’ as their topic this Spring, so each class learnt about a particular country. Each worked with a story-teller to write their own story, artists to create props and set, then with drama teachers to turn it all into a play. They then performed on the professional stage at Ashcroft Arts Centre, in front of parents and older children from the Junior school in a fantastic final show. This project was funded by Creative Hampshire Partnerships
This is the second year of Ashcroft Advocates, pupils from five different schools met regularly at our Arts Centre. They have seen three different productions and taken part in workshops, including ‘Verbatim Theatre’, ‘Jobs in the Arts’ and ‘How to run a workshop’. They also lead warm-ups and activities for an improvisation workshop with invited friends.
School: Bay House
Best Review: The play flowed well, with never a minute of anyone getting bored, full of jokes and humour, the play is a must-see for me! (Origin of Species, Tangram Theatre)
School: Bay House
Best Review: Unlike most stereotypical folk music, Le Vent du Nord brought originality and excitement into the room. I would recommend this to people of all ages, especially lovers of music. (Le Vent Du Nord)
School: Bay House
Best Review: I saw the show only last night and couldn’t help but write a review to sing its praises! After you leave the theatre, you feel a buzz from all the comedy, a lasting memory of great facial expressions etched in your mind as you leave. This along with the one-liners, had the audience roaring with laughter plenty of the time. (Origin of Species, Tangram Theatre)
Best Review: There are lots of other students from our school who would love to do this!
Best Review: I would strongly recommend this to someone who likes a bit of everything because I think that’s what this play brings, it shows a bit of humour and a bit of sadness, it was amazing and I would watch it again. (Others, Paper Birds)
Review of Advocates: I had not appreciated the level of work and skills required to produce these performances, until I had first hand experience.
Best Review: Fresh-faced and fantastic! You should see it if you like something unique. (Others)
Best Review: They were very good at involving the audience. They encouraged us to clap and sing along. All their songs were in French which made it hard to understand but they explained what the songs were about. Overall it was a fun, lively evening and thoroughly enjoyable. (Le Vent Du Nord)
Best Review: It is very much like some of the best art pieces, technically they are wrong but still they are so right and work. (Others)
School: Brune Park
Best Review: As the show began “Charles Darwin” embarks on his interests and events that he shall encounter in the following days, he expresses these in numerous ways, from rhyming to singing and playing the guitar. (Origin of Species)
School: Brune Park
School: Brune Park
Best Review: It was funny and the audience were involved. Also I really enjoyed it because when you think about how much effort has gone into the performance, you are grateful that they have put on a performance that you enjoy. (Origin of Species)
School: Cams Hill
School: Cams Hill
School: Cams Hill
Best Review: I loved the idea of writing to people to find out their life story, and then using their replies to create a play about the lives of ‘Other’ women similar, or completely different to themselves. As we go on through the play, we feel as if we really get to know the people who the play is based on, an Iranian woman, a woman in prison and a celebrity. (Others)
Ashcroft Arts Centre and KIDS worked together during Spring 2011 to develop a theatre project for local young carers culminating in a performance, with funding from Find Your Talent Legacy.
The group watched the 1940's film The Red Shoes, then took part in drama sessions which explored the themes and issues of love, control, obsession and fame. Every member of the group then invited a friend to join us at BAC in London, to watch Kneehigh Theatre Company’s version of The Red Shoes which was inspiring and thought-provoking. Family and friends enjoyed their final performance on Monday 28 March.
This project has given the young carers an opportunity for respite, as well as a chance to discuss big issues that affect us all. James, aged 14 said: “I have loved coming here and I have really enjoyed it. The project has given me lots of opportunities. Thank you!”
September 2009- August 2010- In Space to Create the Ashcroft worked with young people in Gosport to explore how they could contribute to cultural provision within their area. They created proposals for future developments, designed and delivered workshops and presented their findings to an assembled audience with an outline of both short and medium term ideas.
Space To Create were awarded additional funding to extend their project. Over Summer 2010 the group have planned and delivered creative workshops at the Gosport Discovery Centre, including craft, photography and music. A variety of young people attended the workshops and worked towards a final exhibition to show off their achievements.
September 2009- March 2010- The Traces project allowed young people from Portchester Community School to develop their critical and advocacy skills. The young people were encouraged to advocate the arts to their friends and create a large group of young people for a series of cultural experiences including a chance to try the flying trapeze at Circus Space in London. The whole group will be doing their arts award in May this year.
Ashcroft Arts Centre were given the opportunity to work with the amazing performance poetry company Apples & Snakes, for their national event WORDCUP 2010. Ashcroft recruited a group of young people who worked with a professional performance poet for 10 workshops. We held a mini poetry slam to select a team of 8 young people, who represented the South East region at a national event in Manchester!
They had an absolutely brilliant weekend and went on an impressive creative journey. All were encouraged to express themselves and all members of the team were delighted to meet other young people from around the country. They performed in the main slam at the Contact Theatre in Manchester. The young people showed amazing commitment to the project and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
Ashcroft Arts Centre was one of the agencies who organised a week of half term family workshops, culminating in a community performance at the end of the week. All activities were funded by The Big Lottery & Gosport Housing Community Chest.
The celebratory performance ‘A Rowner World’ was written and directed by four local woman with support from the team at the Ashcroft Arts Centre. It featured Bollywood dancing, African drumming, live singing and a panto-style script all performed by adults and children from Rowner. There were also props and costume workshops to dress up the actors.
The idea for the project came from the desire to learn new skills and for families and young people to have access to positive activities during the half-term week. The performers aged between 5 and 55 worked with various professional artists throughout the half-term week, finishing in a performance at BruneParkCommunity College on Friday evening.
Ashcroft Rowner street dancers took to the arena once again at this years Rowner Carnival. Children, young people and adults who attend regular classes at the Nimrod Community Centre were able to join the procession, with a colourful banner, then perform in the main arena as part of the afternoon’s entertainment.
Dancers from Ashcroft Rowner Street Dance classes were invited to perform on the big stage as part of the Grand Finale of the summer celebrations in Gosport. All four classes were able to show off their street dance routines on the stage at StokesBay, in front of an audience of parents and the public. It was a great opportunity to be part of such a popular local community event.
In celebration of Adult Learners’ Week, Ashcroft Arts Centre organised a surprise for the town centre of Fareham. Local adult learners were invited to a free dance class, taught by local dance artist Chris Todd, to learn a simple routine in an hour. The group then proudly took to the high street to surprise local shoppers with their routine, ‘flash mob’ style!
All of the young people and children who work hard every week in regular classes a the Ashcroft Arts Centre were able to show off their skills and enthusiasm in end of term showcase performances in July.
Over 90 youngsters from Ashcroft’s ballet, street dance and youth theatre classes showcased performance skills and techniques, transforming their studio based work onto a professional stage for the end of term.
This year there was a particular emphasis on performance. “We asked the children to consider how they might present themselves differently in front of an audience. We worked with performance skills to present work created in a studio and transfer it to the stage; a process integral to the performing arts” adds Annabel Cook, Centre Director.
All the parents and young people felt that the performances were the perfect way to end another busy term at Ashcroft.