By Emily Axel, Age Friendly Campaign Officer
Young at Arts, run by the LEAF Partnership (Leeds Grand Theatre & City Varieties, Northern Ballet, Opera North, Phoenix Dance Theatre, West Yorkshire Playhouse & Yorkshire Dance) kicked off their Time to Shine project by leading ten weeks of creative sessions, allowing people to explore various artistic expressions.
They included dance, writing, drama and more, and took place in Morley, Gipton and Rothwell.At the end of the series, each group got together to have a look back on what they had done and to plan for the future, as well as to sing some Christmas carols and eat some mince pies.
Shabina, project worker at Young at Arts, came up with some creative ways to get people’s feedback. Under the pressure and excitement of a Christmas cracker relay race, participants wrote down the following comments: “New friends, great fun. All brill.” “Good, but exhausting sometimes.” “I’d forgotten how much I love singing.”
People were full of ideas about what they wanted to do next, including a full production of a play, ballroom dancing lessons and something specifically targeted at men. One member even suggested “Men in Tights,” a spin on the Men in Sheds model focusing on dance rather than woodworking.
The groups also discussed the challenges of getting people who are socially isolated involved in activities like this. People have been promoting the project to friends and neighbours but it can take time and consistency for someone to take that leap. One woman said, “it’s about being in the right place at the right time.”
In 2016, the LEAF partnership will develop future programming with a view to reach some of the most socially isolated people in Leeds, leaning on the resource and knowledge of the older people who have participated so far. The hope is that these individuals will become “cultural ambassadors,” encouraging peers to improve their wellbeing by getting involved in some of these great opportunities.
For more information, please contact Shabina Aslam: ShabinaAslam@yorkshiredance.com or 0113 243 9867.