May Newsletter

Dear Friends,

Welcome to our May newsletter brought to you with palpable excitement at the
opportunity to gather together again and attend the cultural smorgasbord that the Brighton Festival and Fringe have on offer. We are delighted that our festival event, Amplified, has not only sold out but will be introduced in person by this year’s curator and literary tour de force, Lemn Sissay, at Brighton Girls School on 23rd May. Young authors who tell their personal stories as part of Amplified have also been interviewed about their writing journey which will be broadcast on local station Radio Reverb on Thursday 20th May at 5pm & 10pm and repeated on Friday 21st at 9am. So, while we continue to navigate uncertain times; spring is blossoming, the mayflies are bobbing and the return to vestiges of social normality feel like a big seasonal group hug.

Eastbourne ho!

After lockdown paused our two year ‘Branching Out’ project which enabled
Little Green Pig to establish after school clubs in Eastbourne and Worthing, we’re delighted to have resumed work with our club members from Bourne Primary. Our workshop leader, Luke Ofield, and volunteers led on the theme of identity and asking the children to tease out their unique personality traits in visual collage forms. They then worked with professional photographer Elizabeth Doak to capture their different moods and emotions and using the images to shape word play and pieces of writing that they then drew from to create poems.

Don’t you just love that feeling of being fantastic-ish.  Nothing too fantastic, just a bit.

Bright, bold and oozing with personality, we love these self-portraits! We’re back working with the children at the Laurels Primary school in Worthing and look forward to sharing their work in the near future.

Meanwhile at Monday Club…Our Place, Brighton Festival

Artist and writer Ottilie Hainsworth has been working with members of Little Green Pig’s Monday club to create artwork on the theme of Everyday Superheroes.  Using family, friends, celebrities and even a pet (fish!) to inspire their super hero, the children each produced their own graphic artwork that will be curated into a giant comic strip, including other pieces created in public art workshops through a network of community groups from East Brighton.  The artwork features as part of Brighton Festival’s Our Place, a community based creative installation trail across Hangleton & Knoll, Whitehawk, Moulsecoomb and Bevendean on display until the end of May and culminating with a number of public performances from 28th  – 30th May, Without Walls, which celebrates taking cultural events to local neighbourhoods.

Artwork by Monday Club is installed outside The Manor Gym, Manor Rd, Brighton BN2 5EA. Other places on the trail across East Brighton include The Whitehawk Library, Robert Lodge and BELTA Community Centre.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month 

Mental health is an issue many of us struggle to talk about, it’s been stigmatised and misunderstood for millennia but with rising rates of depression, anxiety and social isolation impacting so many during lockdown, we particularly fear our younger generations will be blighted by a legacy of chronic uncertainty and diminished opportunity.  The Lancet reports that the incidence of mental health problems reported by 5 – 16 year olds in England have risen from 10.8% in 2017 to 16% in July 2020 across age, gender and ethnic groups while lockdown has meant that young people have been far less likely or able to seek help and access support.

We see first hand, time after time, how writing can provide a space for reflection, a therapeutic process that affords the opportunity to unpick emotions and a forum for expression for our children and young people.  Many of our programmes and projects place improved mental wellbeing at the heart of projected outcomes and while it’s not to claim that creative writing is a cure all, certainly the mentorship that our children and young people receive through our story mentor volunteers provides a unique environment in which their individual needs can be met.  We recently undertook a number of case studies over the past year and the children profiled all displayed enhanced focus, personal and academic confidence and for one particular boy who had suffered the trauma of bereavement resulting in highly challenging behaviour, a complete transformation in his social interaction and engagement with learning.  Being creative and having the opportunity to channel it is so important for our young people, be it writing, music, drawing or dancing and we hope that the cultural community can come together to support the case for ensuring that each child has the opportunity to access the arts and develop their own unique talents which provide a channel for expression and mindfulness.

And with that in mind…..

Festival of School and College Arts, 28th May 2021 

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) have launched a campaign to celebrate the creative achievements of children and young people with their Festival of School and College Arts to be shared online with the hashtag #EduArtsFest.  They’re inviting schools and colleges across the country to bombard Twitter with images, recordings, films and media assets sharing examples of the fantastic work created by their pupils from artwork to dramatic performance, singing to spoken word.  At a time when more and more children are being told there isn’t sufficient demand to accommodate them on a GCSE arts course, #EduArtsFest makes the case for investment in our cultural industries starting at the critical foundation stage; our schools.  Supported by the Cultural Learning Alliance which champions a right to arts and culture for each child, we could not endorse this initiative more wholeheartedly and hope that you can get behind the campaign too.  To learn more and download resources, check the ASCL website here.
Wishing you the best possible Spring Bank Holiday weekend, we look forward to catching up next month!