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REPORT 2002-2004 Jelica Gavrilovic Maggie Dunlop

Contents Introduction (pg2) The Theory (pg5) The Method (pg 13) Conclusion (pg 15) Participation Communication Community Education Training needs Child development Artist development Large-scale management Devolution versus centralisation Impact of the project The future ArtsPlay Phase 2 Timescale & ArtsPlay numbers Local Reports Acknowledgements

ArtsPlay introduction The Highlands and Islands of Scotland, although scenically beautiful, have a small population (400,000) scattered over an area half the land mass of Scotland. Access to training, quality childcare facilities and the arts is therefore difficult, due to remoteness and poor public transport. Employment for local artists is also difficult to find in their own communities and training and skills development for those artists is not available at present to enable them to work with new client groups. Stimulating Creativity was therefore launched by HI~Arts in September 1997

to run as a year-long pilot project to explore the potential benefits of linking the arts and childcare worlds. Partnerships were created between local musicians, visual artists and drama practitioners and childcare groups in four remote areas of the Highlands and Islands. Since the pilot project was completed, considerable demand from childcare organisations in the Highlands and Islands to take part again and experience the benefits, which resulted from the pilot project, was made. The major benefits of Stimulating Creativity were agreed to be: • •

• •

Enhancing children’s social, intellectual, personal and physical development. Increased access for communities in rural areas to arts activities, arts opportunities and new resources Improved level of skills in the childcare sector and professional development for artists. Increased employment opportunities for artists in their own communities.

HI~ARTS proposed to work again in consortium with the childcare sector in the more remote areas of the Highlands and Islands to provide a rolling programme of training for childcare workers and artists, with the emphasis on “training the trainers”. New skills and increased confidence enabled them to nurture children’s development and to stimulate their creativity through early and continued involvement in the arts. The new project was delivered over two years in the Western Isles, Orkney, Shetland, Caithness, Sutherland, Ross and Cromarty, Inverness, Nairn, Moray, Badenoch and Strathspey, Skye and Lochalsh, Lochaber and Argyll and Bute, starting in Spring 2002. A consortium of partners, which consisted of HI -Arts and the voluntary childcare sector organisations in the Highlands and Islands, worked together to deliver


ArtsPlay. The project was monitored and evaluated by members of the Consortium who met three times a year. The project attracted funding from The Community Fund, Highlands and Islands Enterprise Network, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and the local Childcare Partnerships in the Highlands and Islands. ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. The delivery of ArtsPlay was a phenomenal task. It became very apparent, almost from the beginning of the project, that it would be a steep learning curve for those involved in the overall strategic planning and administration. Changes were made as ArtsPlay moved around the Highlands and Islands, constantly adapting to the needs of the childcare sector and the artists in each area, and evolving rapidly over the two years. Kay Smith was appointed as Regional Co-ordinator in April 2002, and she began the recruitment and selection procedure for local co-ordinators in the first two areas: Ross and Cromarty and Caithness and Sutherland. The first two areas experienced problems with communication and informationsharing. However, by the second round with Shetland and The Western Isles, ArtsPlay began to “pick up”. Everyone was learning, and local co-ordinators developed a more dynamic and flexible approach; and encouraged participation in a positive way. Both areas declared the project a success and wanted to carry on. In January 2003, the third set of areas began at staggered times: Inverness and Nairn, Moray, Badenoch and Strathspey, and Lochaber. The Western Isles also reran the project due to demand from other communities, in fact all of these areas wanted to continue. A qualification was built into the project. The decision was made to develop a Scottish Vocational Qualifications module in childcare: Creative and Aesthetic Experiences; and to adapt it to the training sessions offered. Childcare workers from Inverness & Nairn and Moray, Badenoch & Strathspey took part. During this phase, the Inverness and Nairn artists took the initiative to form a steering committee. Within four months they had become a company and a registered charity; and had raised funds to continue with a 1 year pilot project in September 2003.


Jelica Gavrilovic was appointed as joint-regional co-ordinator in August 2003, and she managed the final three areas. Kay concentrated on the production of a training DVD which could be used as a tool by childcare workers. With the experience of the beginning of the project in mind, the decision was made to begin the last run after the school summer holidays, in late August 2003. The last three were, Skye and Lochalsh, Orkney, and Argyll and Bute. There was also a rerun of Ross and Cromarty and Caithness and Sutherland during this phase due to the original delivery having been under-used in 2002. At the end of 2003, Orkney had put together a bid to deliver the project to all the childcare organisations over a three-year period, around the Orkney Islands. The artists from Skye had put together a proposal for a 3-year project. In Argyll, the childcare partnership had already prepared to deliver the arts to children in the area and was interested in ArtsPlay as a model. In March 2004, ArtsPlay came to an end. Over 800 children, 130 childcare workers and 80 artists took part. Every childcare partnership in each of the 10 areas contributed to the project financially, and altogether, over 2750 people were involved over the two-year period. The project has highlighted a number of issues significant to delivering arts and training in the community. Indeed, the definition of “community” and its application to areas around the Highlands and Islands is significant in itself, as ArtsPlay was very much a community project. The report will aim to investigate some of these issues, mainly: • • • • • • • • •

Participation – the significance for both adults and children Communication – co-ordinators and project recipients Community models of education Training needs of childcare workers and teachers Artist development, training and access to work in the community Management of a project round the Highlands and Islands Devolution versus centralisation Local and national impact of ArtsPlay Relevance of ArtsPlay in the current educational/training/cultural climate

As with most projects, practice is often divorced from theory. However, ArtsPlay proved that changes could be made without affecting the overall intention. The theory and the method, shall, therefore, be investigated further.


The Theory STIMULATING CREATIVITY II -ArtsPlay PROJECT MANAGEMENT The OVERALL MANAGEMENT (subject to the Steering Group agreement) will be through HI~Arts and Children in Scotland. The STEERING GROUP will comprise of the above and representatives from the Local Childcare Partnerships and the Umbrella Childcare bodies, thus ensuring that the area projects can be steered to fit local needs. A REGIONAL CO-ORDINATOR will be appointed and CORE TRAINERS will act as peripatetic mobile skills resource. They will attend each of the INTRODUCTORY WEEKENDS, where both local artists and childcarers will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of workshop-based training sessions. A LOCAL CO-ORDINATOR will be appointed in each area, working part-time for approximately four months. Six LOCAL ARTISTS (two musicians, two drama practitioners and two visual artists) will be selected from your area with advice from the regional ARTS OFFICER and specialist ARTS PARTNERS - e.g.. the Director of a local Arts Centre, a Music Festival or a Theatre Company.

Five participating CHILDCARE GROUPS will be selected by the Umbrella organisations. Two PLAY LEADERS from each of these groups will receive first-hand training in a variety of art forms from the Core Trainers.

MODEL FOR DELIVERY After the appointment and identification of all of the regional co-ordinator, the 10 local co-ordinators, the core trainers and the locally-based artists, it is envisaged that a LOCAL TRAINING WEEKEND will take place in each area. The emphasis will be on providing an opportunity for the childcarers and local artists to meet and to participate in workshop training sessions under the guidance of the Core Trainers. ’Getting to know you’, ’having a go’ and FUN will underline all the activities. The Weekend will also be an opportunity to look at the budget and timetable and begin to formulate INDIVIDUAL GROUP PROJECTS.


INDIVIDUAL GROUP PROJECTS These will be based on what the play leaders and local artists agree is feasible within the childcare setting, allowing for the age range and number of children. An INITIAL VISIT will be made by the artists to each of the childcare groups in order for them to meet the children and observe a normal session. The budget is based on a total of twenty-one hours of artists’ time within the childcare setting. If this were split between all the art forms, the children and other child carers within the groups would benefit from seven hours each of music, drama and visual art. Each group would decide on how best to divide the time and how the sessions would be timed. An amount has been specified to cover the cost of materials. The play leaders and artists will be paid for evaluation of each session, recording expectations and outcomes in their personal Project Diaries. These will provide information for the final Documentation. (Summaries from the original Pilot Diaries can be seen in the Stimulating Creativity report). Each Group Project will be child-centred and child-led with the children also having the opportunity to feed into the overall evaluation.

OPEN EVENING Each childcare group will hold an Open Evening/Adult Session for those childcarers not taking part in the project, parents and other interested parties. These will provide an opportunity for Cascade Training through artist led participation in ‘taster’ workshop sessions. As the emphasis is on training the project intends to spread the benefits to a maximum number of people.

AREA FORUM A one-day event which will be attended by all participating groups, artists and other interested parties. The aims have already been stated, but emphasis will be given to looking at the lessons learned and to on-going training and development. The forum will also provide an opportunity to look at how ideas from other group projects can be shared and how the PERMANENT RESOURCES can be managed.


PERMANENT RESOURCES In addition to the material costs, each of the five childcare groups will have an allocated amount to spend on permanent resources (e.g.. musical instruments and work-cards) which will enable the other groups to run similar projects in their own settings without local artists’ involvement. FINAL DOCUMENTATION The experiences of all the participating groups - 50 in total - will be recorded by means of Project Diaries. A recognised Training Course may be developed through the project. Links to the SVQ were established during the pilot phase and training will meet an accredited level where possible and appropriate. The final documentation may form the blueprint for the project to be extended into other regions throughout Scotland. The document will be a significant resource and will undoubtedly influence future policies in childcare. WHO WILL BENEFIT? ONE HUNDRED CHILDCARERS will be trained by a core team of artists, TEN WILL BE FROM EACH AREA. SIXTY LOCAL ARTISTS will be trained in child development and other related issues; SIX WILL BE FROM YOUR AREA. Children and other carers from FIFTY CHILDCARE GROUPS will have access to these artists, as will parents and other interested bodies. FIVE GROUPS WILL BE FROM EACH AREA.

ESTIMATED TIMESCALE JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2002 The two-year project commences with appointment of Regional Co-ordinator(s) MARCH/APRIL 2002 Appointment of Local Co-ordinators, Local Artists and Core Trainers. Project delivery and training may be based on school term-times within ten local areas and will last approximately THREE months in each area. Depending on local needs and facilities, school-age projects may be run during term-times or, alternatively, during holidays as below: MAY – JUNE 2002 Introductory Training Weekend in first two areas followed by group projects.


AUGUST 2002 Open Evening, followed by Area Forum in first two areas. AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2002 - CHRISTMAS 2002 Introductory Training Weekends and group projects in second two areas. Open Evening, followed by Area Forum JANUARY 2003 - EASTER 2003 Introductory Training Weekends and group projects in third two areas EASTER 2003 Open Evening, followed by Area Forum APRIL/MAY 2003 - JUNE 2003 Introductory Training Weekends and group projects in fourth two areas AUGUST 2003 Open Evening, followed by Area Forum AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2003 - CHRISTMAS 2003 Introductory Training Weekends and group projects in fifth two areas. Open Evening, followed by Area Forum JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2004 Documentation produced. Training Course developed. Permanent resources and project ideas available to be shared. (Business plan – Stimulating Creativity Part 2 -2001)


ARTSPLAY PROJECT AIM To nurture children's development by stimulating their own creativity through early and continuing involvement in the arts. OBJECTIVES ƒ

Through a structure of regional and local coordination, to create links and partnerships between agencies, groups and individuals concerned with the welfare of children and the arts;


To provide high quality arts activities and opportunities for children and their carers within the wider context of mainstream and community arts provision;


To provide appropriate training support for artists, playleaders and associated carers to develop and maintain standards of provision;


To promote awareness of the value of the activities.

ArtsPlay is proposed in direct response to demand from participants in the original pilot project. The main aim is to promote creative play for children within a variety of childcare settings. During the pilot, artists and childcarers worked together with the children, gaining new experiences, confidence and a fuller understanding of the range of possibilities for advancing 'real' creative opportunities as opposed to routine, structured 'activities.'

Participation was seen to be the key to understanding the fun and value of this way of working. Only through working with artists and participating in workshop sessions were the childcarers able to gain confidence, experience a wide range of media and begin to improvise. The artists and childcarers took this ethos of exploration and experimentation into the childcare settings and through working with the children learnt valuable lessons in levels of concentration, motivation and genuine creative expression. .



Provide a mechanism for fulfilling the objectives and thereby deliver an Arts in Childcare Strategy for the Highlands and Islands


Be a rolling, developmental and training programme for adults across the Highlands and Islands


Set up safe and accessible training, offering participants opportunities for exploration and development of ideas to build confidence and stimulate their own and the children's creative development, based on an established ethos


Encourage, increase and develop the involvement of participants in arts activities


Provide employment for local artists in each area along with training in child development and child-related issues


Provide opportunities for children to work with artists


Breakdown the prejudices to art, making art less ‘precious’ through the ethos of 'having a go'


Seek to integrate the training provided with existing and developing SVQ and NTO structures

(Business Plan –Stimulating Creativity Part 2 – 2001)


BENEFITS OF ARTSPLAY For childcare workers to: • Improve and build upon existing skills • Build confidence • Focus on having direct experience of the creative process through workshop sessions with artists • Cover exactly what 'facilitating' means, rather than leading and over-influencing children's work • Recognise that the creative process can be used as a vehicle for communication • Give new criteria and guidelines for appreciation of children's artwork • Find ways to expand and progress children's ideas • Stretch children’s imaginations, enabling them to improvise and 'go with the flow' For artists to: • Understand the developmental stages of the child • Find the right level for children and ways of getting them to commit to the project • Enjoy employment opportunities with a new client group • Meet new challenges • Form links and partnerships with other artists in their community

It is important for children to see adults engaged in creative work – it implies that creativity is an essential human quality. The project aims to stimulate children's curiosity and awareness of different ways of exploring the world around them. Above all it should be fun. Through training, adult participation can be reduced to looking for clues as to where an activity can be taken. Training, based on an agreed ethos of good practice, is needed to disseminate ideas for this approach. Benefits for children: • Involvement in every aspect of the creative process • Focus on experimentation and exploration instead of 'how it ought to be done' or 'doing it properly' • An alternative style of communication - being heard through their own ideas and knowledge, giving a new sense of identity • A greater capacity for creativity - stretching their imaginations and finding out for themselves • Increased levels of concentration


• • • • •

New skills A sense of achievement and pride Opportunity to work with artists in arts activities not often available in rural communities New resources - materials, instruments, ideas, stories and songs Having a lot of fun

Benefits for parents: • A better understanding of the value of creative opportunities • Increased personal confidence through demystifying 'art' • Higher expectations of what their children are able to achieve • Pride in their children's achievements • Support in giving their children a positive start in life

(Business plan –Stimulating Creativity Part 2 – 2001)


The Method Project management: The day-to-day management of ArtsPlay was in the hands of a small steering group made up of members of The Consortium; which, in turn, was made up of Umbrella Childcare Bodies like The Scottish Childminding Association and The Out Of School Federation. Kay Smith was appointed as Regional Co-ordinator at the beginning of 2002 and began immediately to organise the project. Core trainers were not used; instead artists from each area were asked to deliver a training workshop each –a total of four over two days. Each workshop was 2 hours long –this allowed childcare workers attending to go through hands-on training and to experience play for themselves. By the end of the first two areas it became apparent that people were not keen to give up their weekends to attend training courses. Most childcare workers work unsociable hours and have to meet their personal childcare needs too –which can be difficult in a rural or isolated area. Artists too, questioned the need to spend a whole weekend together and felt weekdays would be better. The process was therefore changed for the Western Isles and Shetland. Local co-ordinators were appointed for each area, and where possible matched the required skills of such a post. It was initially difficult appointing people with multitasking abilities. Local co-ordinators had to be good communicators, managers of finance and have an understanding and awareness of the childcare sector. Artists were advertised for or “found” through arts officers. Again matters changed as it became apparent that it was easier to work with a team of 8 artists, and with what was available, in terms of skills, as much as possible, in each region. Open evenings and area forums were tailored to the needs of each area, by the local co-ordinator. Project diaries were maintained by childcarers and artists for each workshop delivered. In fact numbers of workshops were reduced from 16 to 12 per group for the duration of delivery. Childcare groups found it difficult to fit in all the workshops in a 16-week period, and had to take into account holidays, short operating days – again due to rurality and actual numbers of children attending daycare; and the number of staff available for relief cover for training. In Shetland the local co-ordinator took on 10 groups instead of 5 due to heavy demand. Retrospectively, this was a complex, although highly successful task and was only repeated in Skye and Lochalsh where chosen groups decided they would


like to share their workshops with those not invited onto the project. Normally each area tended to work with 5 to 6 organisations and 8 artists. Towards the end of the two-year project much of the overall management theory had altered once set into practice. It became very apparent that in order to deliver the required number of workshops, training days, open evenings and open forums, effective communication had to be the priority. This need to deliver through communication instigated the changes necessary for success. The Ross and Cromarty local report highlights poor communication as a negative influence in the project, but was picked up by the Regional Co-ordinator. Communication was emphasised above all else to local co-ordinators thereafter. The aims and objectives of ArtsPlay however, did not alter. The perceived benefits were proven in the project diaries kept by childcare workers and artists and through the written reports by the local co-ordinators. All areas worked towards the goals of the aims. The areas which were most successful developed the project to tailor to the needs of the local artists and groups. Where artists said they would like to collaborate, they did. Groups could choose which artists they wanted and when. Allowing people to take control and make choices is often the key to success in a community project. The conclusion shall elaborate further on factors leading to success.


Conclusion Participation A behavioural model of participation: This model, often used in community development, recognises that an individual’s decision to take a specific action involves a complex mix of attitudes, intentions, constraints, and behaviours, as well as feedback between past experiences and the mix of attitudes and intentions. When adults have engaged in the ArtsPlay training days, their decision to take part has been based on how they felt about the act of participating. What was highlighted in feedback from training days in particular, was how childcare workers became aware of their own interests or inhibitions in the arts. Asking adults to play can often prove to be a far more difficult request, than asking children. In terms of childcare, it is vital that adults also take risks and “have a go”. Drama was often highlighted as a problem area, as childcarers would feel that they would have to “act”. However, drama was delivered through games and story-telling in a non-threatening and non-competitive way, and childcarers soon lost their inhibitions. Drama was used as the first workshop on training days to “break the ice” and allow adults to overcome their inhibitions about adult group activities. It is important, however to be aware as a training provider, of the following points: • • • • • •

Building participation is hard work It is a team effort which requires continuous communication People’s strengths and weaknesses The goals set are realistic and consistent Identification of barriers Recognising that effective information strategies demand a two-way exchange of information – be that trainer to worker or worker to child

Childcare workers and artists enjoyed the training days, and readily grasped the notion that if they participated in activities together, this would be a good example to the children they would be working with. The training days allowed the artists and childcarers to communicate and play together, and therefore, get to know each other. This made the running of the workshops in the organisations more effective, as barriers had been broken.


Communication Dictionary definition - “To make others understand one’s ideas” Social relationships are integral to the development of the social and emotional intelligence of the child. Again, adults working with children, need to be aware of their own inhibitions around communication. Nearly all communication is of a non-verbal nature. ArtsPlay highlighted the need to communicate effectively, particularly for local co-ordinators. Having a communication strategy is imperative in any developmental or training programme. Assuming that people have understood “one’s ideas” will often lead to misunderstandings. ArtsPlay has achieved the following in terms of effective communication: • •

• •

The local co-ordinator – effective listening. Listening is the key to success in communication. The artist - conveying of ideas in workshops through direct participation, particularly of a non-verbal nature. Although artists would make initial contact with groups to ascertain whether the workshop would fit into current topics; they were allowed, by the groups to deliver the workshops in their own way The groups – trust. Organisations put their trust in the artist’s ability, skills and knowledge. The children – enabling creativity. As childcarers and artists worked together, children were empowered in their play.

Adults participating in ArtsPlay learnt the tools for effective communication through the artists. Drama, dance, music and visual art can be tools for selfexpression. Childcarers learnt that they could move away from their usual activities and introduce new ideas, which were still inexpensive and could be less timeconsuming than the norm. One childcarer in the Ross and Cromarty rerun confessed to avoiding clay until an artist had conveyed their ideas to her. The childcarer realised that those ideas were far simpler and more effective than she was previously aware of, and declared that she would use clay every week. Conveying ideas is a skill, and needs to be approached in a non-judgemental and nonpatronising manner. One of the main aims of ArtsPlay was to allow childcarers and artists to learn from each other – that effective learning was essentially a two-way process.


Community Education Paulo Freire is probably the most influential thinker about education in the late twentieth century. He has been particularly popular with informal educators, and has left a significant mark on thinking about educational practice. He was able to draw upon and bring together a number of strands of thinking about educational practice and liberation. He made a number of important theoretical innovations that had a considerable impact on the development of educational practice. ArtsPlay has highlighted the value of informal education, training and life-long learning. Without the constraints of specific qualifications, learning was based on mutual respect between artist and childcarer, and respect for the child and his/her ability to be creative. Freire insists that communication or dialogue should be based on respect. It should not involve one person acting on another, but rather people working with each other. Too much education, he argues, involves “banking” –the educator makes “deposits” in the educatee. Participating in and delivering hands-on workshops were what childcarers wanted. Reflective diaries logged by artists and childcares gave an account of each workshop, and could be used by local co-ordinators in their final reports. Local co-ordinators could act as facilitators when needed, and behave, essentially, in a supportive rather than dictatorial manner. Freire insisted that educational activity should be situated in the lived experience of participants. Artists developed their skills and techniques so that they could be grasped by children age 3 to 12 years, some younger, with the aid of carers. The artists’ ability to share their skills in this manner led to an exchange with childcarers who would highlight issues around child development, curriculum needs, health and safety and child protection in return. Both artists and childcarers learnt from each other.

“Educators need to look for teachable moments –but when we concentrate on this we can easily overlook the simple power of being in exchange with others”.(Freire: Pedagogy of the Oppressed). If ArtsPlay had concentrated its efforts on formal education, much of the creative experience, essential to child development and nurturing would have been consumed by formalised approaches. Artists could adapt their skills to the needs of the organisations: this was sufficient in terms of enabling the learning process for children and their carers.


Training needs “instruction and practice in a specific skill” ArtsPlay, as a training programme, was deemed to be extremely successful by childcarers. They liked the hands-on approach in the training, with some back-up in terms of artists’ workshop notes. The training days were highly focused on this aspect of the project, but information on child protection was also made available, particularly for the artists. The workshops had to fit in with guidelines which organisations worked under. However, artists could often find solutions to issues which could hamper the stimulation of creativity. Childcare organisations and schools are expected to work increasingly under more rigid health and safety regulations. For instance, one nursery in Inverness explained to an artist that they were no longer allowed to use egg boxes. The artist intended to work on a theme appropriate to Easter, and was amazed at this kind of restriction. Recycled products, brought from home used to save on extra expense. The artist’s solution was to buy egg boxes directly from source, and to share them out with the groups. She then explained that this could be done with most products, i.e. straw. Training, therefore, can be about giving direct advice, in an empowering way. Although such issues as mentioned above may seem on the surface to be minor, they have a huge impact on how childcarers and teachers deliver. Focusing specifically on skills gave ArtsPlay participants exactly what they wanted. Dialogue between artists and childcarers concentrated on knowledge about the artist’s work and the organisation’s needs. The intensity of the project locally in terms of delivering a specific number of workshops within a set period of time, did mean that adults had to be focused. The delivery, therefore, was highly refined. Artists and childcarer workers did identify some issues. • • •

Workshop notes, tapes and books for organisations would have been good permanent resources Perhaps the time was too short, and didn’t leave room to elaborate Artists felt that they didn’t have enough time at the end of a workshop to discuss what they had done in detail


Child development There is plenty of research available about the quality of parenting and its’ impact on child development particularly in the early years. Childcarers also learn about child development through the qualifications they need to acquire. The arts and child development have also been researched and an acknowledgement has been made that the arts are beneficial to a child. This has been highlighted in the pilot project “Stimulating Creativity” by HI~Arts. However, there is deemed to be little evidence within any large-scale project that the arts have a proven track record in terms of a wider social impact. ArtsPlay has involved 2750 adults and children over a period of two years and worked over a wide geographical area: it goes some way to providing evidence for a bigger picture in child development, particularly for the ages 0 to 12. There are over 500 project diaries written by artists and childcarers which pull out issues related to social and emotional intelligence and the relevance of the arts. Childcare workers looked for the reaction of each child as an individual and to the whole group when involved in the workshops. Often the workshops would be “open-ended”. There would be rules which would be flexible and open to redefinition. Children were directed to their emotional experience, and to explore and express their feelings on any issue in any way they wished. Within the context of unstructured play, children can experiment with feelings and with the behavioural expression of those feelings. Expressions of realisation and understanding were noted by childcarers. Diaries often referred to smiles, laughter, enjoyment and co-operation. Some diaries highlighted the ability of children to work together as a whole group when the artists came in, something they would rarely do. The ability to work and play co-operatively is integral to social development. If adults can provide an environment where children feel safe to explore their own creativity, then children will feel happier about being involved in a group activity. Childcarers referred to some workshops as “production lines”, where children could move from one activity to the next, building and creating as they explore the workshop. Some workshops would run over time, even with under 5s, as they insisted on carrying on.


Artist development Having artist-led workshops has proved to be the key to success in terms of raising awareness around child development and group interaction. Artists were also given the opportunity to explore their own needs within ArtsPlay. The project gave them the chance to become involved with their own communities and in particular with working with the under 5’s. They gained knowledge about: Child development Health and Safety Child protection Voluntary sector childcare organisations Additional needs How to use their artform and adapt it to different age groups Re-affirmation that the process is a process and that the end product isn’t integral to success Artists explored their workshop content and delivery, ensuring that they met the needs of each organisation specifically. In return, childcarers shared their knowledge and skills and pointed out the effect that group dynamics could have on a workshop. Most experienced the project as positive. Where there was poor communication, there were also complaints. It was vital that organisations gave artists adequate information about their groups and the dynamics of their organisation. Local coordinators encouraged artists to ask questions prior to delivering a workshop and to set up communication. In terms of qualifications and further training, artists generally felt that the knowledge they had gained working directly with childcarers was sufficient. Artists felt, on the whole, that their role within the project was to deliver the arts and not to get overly involved in procedure and legislation. Large-scale management Issues highlighted: •



• •

Administration Co-ordination

With a total budget of £300,000 allocated to 10 different regions in the Highlands and Islands, financial management proved to be an onerous task. Local co-ordinators could have been given more financial control if they had been in post for a longer period of time. As each area was just 4 months, by the time everyone understood the financial system of making claims the project would be over. Information and training was given about the claims system at training days, but people often find forms etc. difficult to understand initially. Also during the training days, participants would take in a great deal of information, that local co-ordinators would need to reiterate thereafter. If each area had run on longer, most of the problems occurred would have been tackled over a period of time as people “got used” to the “other side” of ArtsPlay. Administration and co-ordination were controlled by each local co-ordinator, and each developed their administrative system. Booking workshops was a priority and if done well would ensure that the project would run smoothly. Organisational skills were essential, particularly in such a short period of time. The local reports show how each co-ordinator worked. Devolution versus centralisation ArtsPlay was run from a central point at HI~Arts, although each area had its own co-ordinator. A central point can act as both support and restriction. Often centralisation can hamper any necessary creative process within a project. The distance kept between HI~Arts and the local areas did mean that each region could function independently but look to the regional co-ordinator for guidance and support. Most of the areas, having been allowed to control the project and “own” it, wanted to carry on with it. ArtsPlay had become theirs. Managing the project on a local scale could prove to be more time-efficient. Artsplay Highland was formed as an organisation in Inverness by the Inverness and Nairn artists. Managing their own projects did prove to be easier as they could


create their own administrative system and not be faced with the restrictions imposed upon a much larger organisation like HI~Arts. However, advice and support were still appreciated, and the likelihood that Artsplay Highland could expand became apparent. However, each area has been encouraged to find its own way forward with ArtsPlay and to develop its own system tailored to the needs of each region. It is hoped that these areas would then work together to collaborate over ideas, and give each other support, which could come through one organisation like Artsplay Highland. Certainly some things could avoid duplication: • • • •

Insurance Disclosure Policies Company and charitable status

However this would entail creating a central administrative support team specifically for ArtsPlay. This could enable areas to concentrate more on provision and less on administration. The solution would be to ascertain the level of support required and how this could be managed effectively. Impact of the project ArtsPlay has raised significant issues: • • •

Childcare workers’ rights to hands-on training, equality of pay and job stability Children’s rights to access to the arts, creativity and nurturing. Artists’ rights to control their own work, and participate in the community.

The financial management of the project shows how childcarers and artists need to be supported in order to provide good practice at work. Organisations and artists could claim for attending training days, and groups could claim for relief cover. Certainly issues around pay and stability in the childcare sector were apparent, and it was felt that a project like ArtsPlay could help boost the morale of the sector and improve on skills. What was also apparent was the lack of arts development in the childcare sector, and groups’ lack of awareness around what was available in their own locality and how to access it.


ArtsPlay brought childcare organisations and artists together to stimulate creativity in children. Artists gained more work in their community and childcarers gained more skills. The two-way training mechanism of ArtsPlay was the key to successful delivery. The Future and ArtsPlay Phase 2 ArtsPlay Phase 2 began in June 2004. The aim was to enable each area which wants to continue to find a way forward: Shetland: The childcare partnership in Shetland made a bid to the New Opportunities Fund for a three-year project and is now in the process of appointing a co-ordinator Western Isles: Theatre Hebrides is taking on the management of the project – ArtsPlay Hebrides Inverness and Nairn: Artsplay Highland are now in their second year of delivery Lochaber: The artists have formed a constituted body – Artexchange, and have access to funding from their childcare partnership and Local Enterprise Company Skye and Lochalsh: The original local co-ordinator is now working on the next phase Ross and Cromarty and Caithness and Sutherland: The artists, cultural co-ordinators and arts officers are combining to deliver arts training projects through a working party Orkney: The arts strategy officer is working with the arts forum and childcare partnership to develop a three- year project Moray, Badenoch and Strathspey: The Moray arts officer is organising a conference for next year to find a way forward amongst the artists’ community As each area builds on ArtsPlay and embeds the project further into the community, issues around funding , management and policy will arise. Essentially ArtsPlay is about learning and learning is a life-long activity. The model presented by ArtsPlay can be adapted to all communities and groups in society. ArtsPlay is also about communication, and the facilitation of ideas and skills outwith a formal education setting and can provide a solution to the delivery of cultural entitlement in the communities of Scotland.


ArtsPlay (Stimulating Creativity Part II) Year 1 2002 January

Advertise Regional and Local Co-ordinator's post


Interviews for Regional Co-ordinator


Appoint Co-ordinator, advertise for Local Co-ordinators in 1st 2 areas


Regional Co-ordinator in post, start planning training weekends for Ross & Cromarty, Caithness & Sutherland


Training weekends in Ross & Cromarty and Caithness & Sutherland. Local co-ordinators in post


Project delivery. Advertise for Local co-ordinators for Shetland & W Isles


Plan training weekends and project delivery in second 2 areas


Monitoring & Evaluation in first 2 areas. Start to develop NC module


Training weekends, followed by project delivery in Shetland & Western Isles


Project delivery.


Project delivery. Advertise for co-ordinators for Inverness & Nairn, Moray & Badenoch, Lochaber


Open Evenings and Area Forums in second 2 areas. Monitoring & Evaluation in second 2 areas.

Year 2 January

Training weekends in Inverness & Nairn, Moray & Badenoch followed by project delivery


Training weekend in Lochaber, followed by project delivery. Deliver NC module.


Open evenings in Inverness & Nairn and Moray & Badenoch


Area Forums in Inverness & Nairn and Moray & Badenoch


Open evenings in Lochaber. Monitoring and evaluation.


Area Forum in Lochaber. Advertise for co-ordinators for Orkney, Skye & Lochalsh and Argyll

July place.

Plan training weekends for last 3 areas. Get groups and artists in



Co-ordinators in post. Start to investigate costs for Training DVD


Training weekends for last 3 areas, followed by project delivery


Project delivery. Start to prepare Training DVD


Open evenings


Area Forums. Monitoring and evaluation.


Prepare final report


Complete final report


Produce Training DVD as a permanent resource/legacy of project.


ArtsPlay Participants - May 2002 – March 2004 Ross & Cromarty 6 groups 84 children 13 artists 33 sessions 10 playworkers Total participants


Caithness & Sutherland 5 groups 51 children 18 sessions 7 artists 8 playworkers Total participants


W Isles 6 groups 99 children 79 sessions 8 artists 6 playworkers 27 at Open Days (4) 14 at Area Forum Total participants


Shetland 8 groups 92 children 80 sessions 10 artists 53 childcare workers 313 at Open Days (8) 50 at Area Forum Total participants



Inverness & Nairn 6 groups 366 children 60 sessions 11 artists 21 playworkers 22 at Area Forum 97 at Open Days (5) Total participants


Lochaber 6 groups 107 children 9 artists 51 sessions 17 playworkers 13 at Open Days (3) 15 at Area Forum Total participants


Moray, Badenoch & Strathspey 5 groups 60 children 9 artists 65 sessions 9 playworkers 75 at Open Days (4) 35 at Area Forum Total participants


Orkney 7 Groups 31 Playworkers 182 Children 6 Artists 72 Sessions 10 at Open Days (2) Forum Cancelled Total Participants



Argyll and the Islands 5 Groups 11 Playworkers 80 Children 57 sessions 8 artists at Open Days(3) 150 at Area Forum Total Participants


Skye and Lochalsh 9 groups 6 artists 75 sessions 22 childcare workers 244 children 53 at Open Days (6) 16 at Area Forum Total participants


Ross & Cromarty Revisit (October - December 2003) After School Clubs 7 artists 117 Children 6 groups 19 Childcare workers 21 sessions 11 at Area Forum Total Participants


Ross-shire Special Needs Playscheme (held in 2 week October holiday 2003) 4 Artists 30 Children 2 Groups 12 Childcare workers 8 Sessions Total Participants



Caithness & Sutherland Revisit (February - March 2004) 1 training artist 18 at Area Forum (9 artists, 9 playworkers) Total Participants 18 (4 Training Days organised but had to be cancelled due to lack of interest)




ARTSPLAY AREA REPORTS Ross and Cromarty – May, June, August 2002 –Phase 1 Co-ordinator: Siobhan Docherty Ullapool, Parant is Paisde (under 3s) There were several problems with Ullapool from the beginning. This was for several reasons. There was always a lack of commitment as the playleaders never seemed interested in the project. This lack of commitment from the playleaders meant that they weren’t really bothered if anything happened or not. They didn’t understand what the project was about and didn’t seem to care. I found out however on the day their workshop took place that the playleaders indicated that they preferred to work with the 3-5s but since the introduction of the Gaelic nursery Sgoil Araich (Gaelic nursery), their group has been reduced to the under 3s. This might explain some of the commitment issues they had to the project. However there were other problems arranging sessions for this group. The fact that we had to use Gaelic artists was the first obstacle, as there weren’t any available locally. Also finding artists experienced with young children, Gaelic speaking and available was virtually impossible at any time of year. When we did manage to find a Gaelic arts theatre company (Meanbh-chuileag) they had no experience with young children plus with the limited time in which the project ran meant the only time we could book them was for the first week of term. Again this was not ideal as the numbers of the children attending for this time had not been established, the group wasn’t established and they had practically no Gaelic at all. Moreover there was some confusion as to why the session had to be in Gaelic for the mother and toddlers as the children and the mothers had little if any Gaelic. This meant that the workshops were very difficult for the children and the adults to follow. However the workshop seemed to go well with all the parents joining in on the session (mostly directed through actions and easy to follow games) Meanbh-chuileag found it very hard going having had no previous experience of working with the under 3s and have reservations about tackling this again. Although the group had no experience of working with the under 5 age group they adapted there sessions to incorporate them. Overall this went down very well with both the mother and toddlers and the 3-5 age groups. The afternoon session was attended by the local Gaelic primary school. This was more successful as Meanbh-chuileag were used to


this age range. This was the only sensible economic option as the Parant is Paisde could only take a session for approx. 1 hour. Dingwall Age group 6-11 numbers approx. 20. Meanbh-chuileag did another full day workshop with the Sradagan, an after schools group. This was very successful as the Meanbh-chuileag was used to working with this age group and the children had a lot of Gaelic. There were about 20 children and it was non-stop all day with a couple of short breaks. They covered music, visual art, and drama and movement games. Donald and a couple of helpers also joined in with the day’s activities. Gairloch Toybox were open through out the summer period and this was thought to be easier to arrange on going workshops. However with the lack of artists available at such short notice this didn’t happen. However we managed to get Arts in Motion in for a two-day workshop in video. This was to encourage some older children intoToybox. There were a total of 7 children, 4 of them being only 6 years old the others about 11 years. The mix of ages made the session more difficult because of their different abilities. However this was a success and has had nothing but positive feed back from both Arts in Motion and Toybox. Extra cover had to be provided so the playleader could also take part in the workshop. Toybox also had Andrew for 3 storytelling workshops and Chrissie for 3 song sessions. Some of these were more successful than others; this was mainly due to numbers and the regularity of the sessions. There were problems all summer with the lack of children attending Toybox. This lead to several sessions being cancelled and only some of them could be rearranged for a later date. Most of the sessions that did take place had very poor attendance. Tore Total of 12 sessions with children aged 3-5. Numbers varied from 8 – 12. This group managed to have 12 sessions altogether: one with Roddy, four with Andrew, one with Inge and Sue, four with Chrissie and one with Caroline. This groups showed this most enthusiasm for the project and were beginning to get into a routine with the sessions when they had to break for the holidays. This was a shame as this group were one of the most successful in terms of participation and numbers of children that could take part. This meant the flow was fragmented and they had different children to work with after the summer. This meant the children would have to get used to the whole experience of strangers coming into the group for the workshops again. Overall these session have had mixed reports.


However this group also had problems with regular numbers on specific days. Again sessions had to be cancelled and rearranged. This means that there were no regular children in the sessions and the artist that could go out several times had difficulty building upon what was done previously. The sessions always proved more successful the more used and experienced the children were with the artist’s presence. Because of the erratic numbers of children the organisation of the sessions became difficult to arrange. This has resulted in several sessions being cancelled. However this project was welcomed and the playleader were committed and enthusiastic. Again if more time were available greater success would have been achieved. Resolis Playgroup and Childminders This group had a total of 10 sessions in total. Each session lasted no more than one hour. Numbers of children from 4 – 20 aged between 2 – 5. Sessions included five with Andrew, one with Inge and Roddy, three with Sue and one with Caroline and Chrissie. This group along with Tore were the most committed to the benefited the most. This group again were closed for the experienced the same problems with not knowing numbers fragmentation of the sessions. The groups have little knowledge of the new children coming both in age and numbers.

project and probably summer holidays and of children and the in after the summer,

Conclusion Information Throughout the whole of this project lack of information was a key issue. The playleaders taking part were not clear about the project and what commitment they would have to put into it. Therefore there was always a problem with flexibility and understanding of the projects aims. Moreover the artists available for the project had little if no experience of working with young children. How are they to offer quality training to the playleaders if they had no experience themselves? Workshops in action Through observation of the sessions taking place it became apparent that some had little to do with stimulating creativity. The project had no information from the artist as to how they were going to run there sessions and the playleaders had little understanding as what creativity actually is. Therefore their assessment of the sessions was questionable. Also the groups of children taking part ages could vary to such an extent that only some of them in the group could take part. This made it


difficult for the artist to aim and deliver the session beneficially but also the playleaders had to attend to the child or children not being able to take part therefore missing out on the session. Participation The playleaders were often not interested or not able to take part in the sessions. The sessions were sometimes seen as an n opportunity for a break and free entertainment. Sometimes they couldn’t take part because they had to carry on with their job, this left little if any time to take part in or observe the artist’s session. It was questioned as to whether it is viable to run these workshops for children under 3 years of age? This age group of children either didn’t have the interest or the necessary motor skills to take part. The majority of feed back questions this, although there is no mention of questioning this on the evaluation forms. Planning As noted in the pilot project, collaboration between childcare workers, parents and artists was imperative. ArtsPlay unfortunately neither had the time or commitment for this to happen. From the beginning the artists and childcarers would have benefited greatly from working together on a collaborative project. This is especially relevant as the childcare workers had little experience if any in the arts and the artists had little if any experience with the age groups of the children concerned. By working together they could of shared their skills and brought together more clarity and focus into the sessions. Maybe setting an overall theme for the project could have helped the artists and the playleaders understanding of both the arts and the children involved. The age groups of the children taking part in the project meant that they could only deal with a limited time due to their attention span. This meant the sessions were short meaning more of them had to take place for the groups to get their specified hours in the project. Is there a way in which sessions could be condensed into several days over weeks rather than months to build up the rhythm of the project? Playleaders’ views The overall view of the playleaders is that there needs to be a lot more advanced planning and information. More collaboration between them and the artists on specified projects. Moreover the playleaders already have a heavy workload and trying to just “fit in” a project like ArtsPlay proved difficult. Again this comes back to more information being made available to them before the commencement of the project.


Artists’ views The artists felt that they would also benefit if the objectives were clearly defined. They also would have liked more time, focus and concentration, maybe with specified days set aside every week in a host playgroup. They questioned if the area needed to be so big if the training was for the playleaders. It could of been for be given a base. Artist could also have worked collaboratively with each other to give better focused projects. The artists were working in isolation from each other with no idea what theme if any the other was concentrating on. Also the specific age groups taking part. This was a learning experience for the artists as well as the playleaders but could there have been more training of the artists to work with these age groups of children. Could the core artist the local areas not have offered training to the local artist who had little if none? There was not much to add to this report from the one that had been written earlier for the meeting with Robert Livingston, Meg Telfer (Caithness and Sutherland local co-ordinator) and Kay Smith. There were only a handful of sessions since then. I hope this will be sufficient and hope there will be more success with the other ArtsPlay projects. Due to the timescale of the project in Ross-shire, and the closure of some of the groups for the summer holidays, it was felt that there was a potential to rerun ArtsPlay again. This was delivered in November 2003.

Ross and Cromarty -Phase 2 November 2003 Artists: Sue Drever – Music Margaret Rae –Music Alpha Munro –Music Ally MacLeod and Jackie Goode – Drama Deborah Carter –Clay Geordie MacDonald Haig – Coloursplash Groups: TRACC – Tain Newmore Out of School Club – Invergordon Toybox – Gairloch Tigerz Club, Alness Racoons, Strathpeffer Maryburgh Nursery


Conon Bridge Nursery Training Days –Held at the Averon Leisure Centre Thursday 6 November and Friday 7 November Attendees: All the above organisations attended the two training days. 11 people were present. Workshops were delivered by: Alpha Munro, Geordie MacDonald Haig, Deborah Carter and Jackie Goode and Ally MacLeod. Feedback from Training days: “Each workshop was as useful as the other. I learnt something in each one”. (Conon Bridge) “It was so refreshing to get back to what Nursery Education is supposed to be about –CREATIVITY –and allowing us time with artists to realise this”. Comments: • • • • • • •

Learnt lots of new and good ideas. Nice to find out about artists and what they do, and what is in the local area. I never knew what was out there. Had the opportunity to speak to the artists –where to get materials etc. We need more of these courses Being able to use a wide variety of materials and ideas –showing that by using simple materials art can take on many exciting aspects Experiencing the different creative processes for myself was good Getting advice from artists on how to achieve effects and how to bring the experience to children

Everyone present enthused about the content of the workshops and how appropriate they would be to both Out of School Clubs and Nurseries. The atmosphere was friendly and relaxed, and adults thoroughly enjoyed “getting back” to creativity.


Workshops: Each group was allowed 3 workshops – over a period of 3 weeks, and were then asked to return to the Open Forum in December. The allocation of workshops was as follows: Toybox: Alpha Munro –Music Coloursplash Clay Conon Bridge: Sue Drever –Music Clay Coloursplash Racoons: Drama Clay Coloursplash Maryburgh: Drama Clay Margaret Rae –Music Tigerz: Coloursplash Drama Alpha Munro –Music TRACC: Clay Drama x 2


Feedback from evaluation forms Groups: Visual Art: “I have learnt that with an activity like this all adults need to do is provide a variety of interesting materials and leave the children to do their own thing”. (Maryburgh – clay) The children felt free to explore what they wanted with this medium. Given a variety of materials to work with and a mound of air-drying clay, they needed little encouragement and praise in order to get started. “Firstly, I used to hate working with clay with children as it was so difficult to use and very little could be done with it. Since doing it with Artsplay, it made me realise there is a lot more that can be done with this material. I never knew you could add so much to it and have so much fun. I am fully converted. I will use this with confidence from now on, now I know what can be done. I have decided to this activity once a month which is far more than ever”. (Conon Bridge). A fantastic quote –which says everything. “Geordie’s laid-back approach with the kids was great and he didn’t seem to mind them experimenting with the spray paint. He encouraged each child, which is of great importance to their confidence”. (Newmore – Coloursplash). Children were quoted as really enjoying the session and would have kept going all day. It suited all ages, and showed childcare staff how flexible the technique of spray-stencilling was. “I want to be a splash artist”. This was a quote from one boy from Newmore who had special needs, and was captivated by the whole experience. Music: “I would find doing a similar session quite easy as activities were very easy to follow, and there were no set rules. The children really enjoyed themselves”. (Conon Bridge – Sue Drever). Children were given the opportunity to learn about rhythm and beat. They danced with large elastic scrunchies, used percussion instruments and learnt some new


rhymes. Children concentrated for the full hour and nobody tired of taking part – Conon Bridge. Maryburgh had a session with Margaret Rae where they were given the opportunity to learn new dances and songs, and ways of working with percussion instruments. The children enjoyed the sessions, and each activity was perfectly timed for the attention span of the children. Groups would have liked more music sessions; however artists’ availability was restricted during the short period of the RACE rerun. Drama: “The screams of laughter were a dead give-away that the kids were having a great time”. Newmore about Ally MacLeod Ally used her own listening skills a great deal during her workshop with Newmore. Where other adults might assume children were being silly, she found something positive in everything they said and did, and praised it. “Everything we learnt was new, and of great benefit to our club”. At TRACC, Ally began with ground rules so the children knew what was expected of them. The children were all eager to take part, and enjoyed drama games. “I was amazed by some of the input from the children and how wrapped up in the goings-on some of the smaller children were”. TRACC. No set-up time was required and Ally’s session went on longer than it was supposed to! Much to the children’s delight! “One of the small boys that took part in the play about the jungle was totally wrapped up in what was going on and really believed he was stranded in the jungle. He is still going on about the provisions he is going to take with him the next time he goes”. TRACC.


The Open Forum

The Open Forum for the Ross and Cromarty Phase 2 was held 5 December in Alness. Most of the groups came back, and Ian Goode from the Ross and Cromarty Childcare Partnership was invited. The aim of the forum was to evaluate the project and develop a potential way forward. The skills picked up from the artists’ delivery were as follows: • • • • • • •

Using the imagination and sharing ideas Developing ground rules Making use of a wider range of materials Freedom to experiment and freedom of play Subconscious learning through games A sense of wonder and surprise through visual effects Valuing children’s’ contributions and gaining pride and achievement

Some of the groups felt that information about ArtsPlay should be delivered through in-service days. The Out of School Clubs thought that the potential for raising funds for the continuation of the project would be high, and were keen to see it move forward. Both the childcare partnership and the local enterprise company were happy to get involved in the process, and to see the project move on. Jelica Gavrilovic –Regional Co-ordinator -ArtsPlay

Caithness and Sutherland – May, June, August and September 2002 Co-ordinator: Meg Telfer The training weekend was great fun. A good getting to know you exercise. Name labels would have made this even better, one of the shyer artists still didn’t know who was who by Sunday morning. The workshops were full of interest and very entertaining, but the question was raised - why were artists imported - why did the local artists not do the workshops, and then the clients would have had a better idea of what was on offer to them.


I visited all the clients to have a look at their facilities and to make sure they knew what was on offer and why. I was very impressed by the Croileagan in Thurso, the new pre-school facility in Kinlochbervie, and what Liz offers as a child minder in Brora. The facility in Bettyhill is excellent, but the walls were, sadly, bare of any evidence of children’s work. The Sradagan use the Gaelic Unit Classroom in Tongue. It was extremely difficult, in fact almost impossible, to get things moving, as the weeks leading up to the summer break were exactly the wrong time of year to be offering anything extra to groups. They are off on trips, visiting the primary schools, having sports, parents days etc. etc. The artists too are busy. So progress was slow and difficult. The beginning of a new term isn’t ideal either. My difficulties were increased when our music man returned to London, and withdrew from the project (not foreseeable). Unfortunately in spite of following up many leads he proved impossible to replace. One of our visual artists returned home to Canada for a lengthy stay – most of June & July, and was also unavailable for a time in August (foreseeable). Our two Gaelic storytellers are very busy, one of them does not drive, and they were not particularly committed to the project. With the best will in the world I could not see how all the clients could have had all their entitlement of sessions before the beginning of September. The pre-school group in KLB had 1 visual art session and 1 video session (both very successful) before the summer break and then did not want to see anybody else till after the first week of the new term. The drama session arranged for them had to be cancelled due to the artists’ car breaking down on route to KLB. The drama artist was then so busy that she simply could not fit us in. A visual art session was arranged for Brora, and a workshop is proposed for all the folk in the area who work with young children. Brora also wanted drama & music but not video. The Farr Edge was open during the summer and it was possible to arrange some workshops because of that. So far they have had Visual Art and Video – they had drama through another project. The Gaelic provision was very difficult. The Gaelic speaking bodies will only accept fluent Gaelic speakers to work with the children, all we could offer at that level was storytelling, and as I have said there were difficulties there. Sue Jane has basic Gaelic enough for a visual art session at Thurso where the children are preschool. In Tongue the Sradagan is made up of the children in the Gaelic Medium Unit (not pre-school), and basic Gaelic would not be enough. This is a very peculiar situation because none of the specialist teachers visiting the Gaelic Unit speak Gaelic and are perfectly acceptable.


Gavin – Video Artist – raised the subject of the fees for the workshops. He felt they were too little. He also pointed out that he has to spend a lot of time putting together the finished piece of video work. Two questions I have been asked – How were the client groups selected? How were the local artists selected? I arranged with Maggie at HI~Arts to take my holiday allocation and time-off during the summer holidays, resume nearer to the beginning of term and extend the project time into October, this allowed for more workshops to be arranged. Joanne Kaar, a paper maker based in Caithness contacted me, expressing an interest in getting involved with the project. Joanne’s workshops can be geared to all ages, so I booked her for the Farr Edge in Bettyhill. She held a workshop on 5/08/02 for their Holiday Club. It was extremely successful and seemed to generate huge enthusiasm, not just with the kids but also with the leaders. Joanne was available to run other work shops. After lengthy discussions with “The Midge”-Edinburgh based Gaelic Arts Group Meanbh-chuileag, and Alex at the Croileagan, I was able to arrange for the Group to visit her and Tongue Gaelic Medium Unit/ Sradagan. I managed to get more workshops organised, thanks to Joanne & Sue – who were willing and able to fit us in to their busy schedule.

I have given some thought to the winding up activities and wonder if we could combine with Ross & Cromarty and hold an event in the no mans land of Ardgay/ Bonar Bridge. I read an article by Ruth Wishart in The Herald I wonder if we could get a speaker of her calibre to talk about Art education in general and for very young children in particular. This is probably a bit ambitious. We had a productive meeting at HI~Arts – Robert L, Kay, Siobhan and me. We discussed how things could have been better, where things went wrong – bad timing etc., and discussed ways of recouping our losses. If there is enough money left in the budget then we thought we could do this by taking a different approach and working with the leaders – introducing them to and familiarising them with the art forms, and equipping them to encourage creativity. Independently of our meeting Maria and Joanne had decided at KLB that this would be a more profitable way to progress.


We are now (new term) experiencing how effective the project could have been at a different time of year. The groups are keen for workshops and the artists although still busy are marginally more available. The total number of workshops organised to date was 18. Numbers in the groups ranged from 2 at Brora to 13 at the Croileagan in Thurso. The way things worked out some groups and some artists were used more than others. Sue Jane Taylor (Visual Artist) visited Liz Ross at Brora 4 times (3 visits to Liz’s home and 1 to the Rainbow Group) where she introduced Liz and the children to painting and printing using a huge range of materials, source material and stimuli. They all seem to have had a great time and gained enormously in confidence. Liz is now prepared to attempt far more, Sue to work with much younger children and above all the children now get paints out themselves and mess about happily for long periods of time exploring their own ideas. “The young ones (1 year old) managed a few blobs without eating it (the paint)” Liz “We’ve even painted outside with splash suits on, doing footprints in wellies in the rain, much to the children’s delight” Liz Sue held one work shop each with The Farr Edge, Bettyhill, The Pre School Group, Kinlochbervie and The Croileagan in Thurso. These were all successful with everyone gaining from the experience, and all wishing more visits and workshops for leaders were possible. Sue Jane’s workshop in Borgie Forest for Farr Edge after a promising start got overtaken by midgies and what looked like being a great afternoon ended up in us going for a riverside walk – interesting- but missing the point! It is quite hard to get it over that ArtsPlay is not a childminding/entertainment service, and more for the leaders to gain confidence, increase their skills range and raise their awareness of kids potential. Folk seem to find the concept of encouraging creativity quite hard, even some of the artists. Why do people find it hard to leave kids alone to do their own thing once they know how to use the tools? Joanne Kaar (Paper Making) took 6 workshops, 2 in Brora, 2 at the Farr Edge and 2 at Kinlochbervie. Joanne assured us that paper making is suitable for all ages and how right she was. She was able through ArtsPlay to give the groups a basic paper making kit and they all intend to carry on with this activity. It seems to have grabbed the imaginations of all ages.


“I particularly enjoyed watching the children take their parents to see what they had made, and explain with some authority the process” Joanne at KLB “I would never have believed it but on Friday I saw a two-and-a-half year-old making paper! She needed help with some of the physical jobs but was deciding what was what and definitely making “her own” paper. She did some printing as well and would still be at it if we hadn’t stopped her – we were exhausted!! Please don’t let anybody try and make her one of the herd!” Meg at Brora “When can we do this again – soon please” child Farr Edge Video and Paper Making Gavin Lockhart (Video Artist) only managed 2 workshops (1 at Kinlochbervie and 1 at The Farr Edge); they seem to have been very successful. In spite of questions regarding how tiny children would manage this activity, because of Gavin’s enthusiasm and definite high tolerance and patience with small children all went well. This was definitely an activity which encouraged creativity and was completely child centred. “Fun was the objective, playing with video, recording bits and pieces the game. Having the camera in the hands of 3 and 4 year olds was a bit scary but made for very child centred images which they enjoyed watching on their big screen” Gavin Monique Sliedrecht (Visual Artist) ran 2 workshops and what a pity she was not available for more. She has a remarkable gift for dealing with small children; they love her instantly and respond to her ideas, which were creative and stimulating for the children and the leader. “The Midgie” – Gaelic Arts Group (Meanabh-chuileag) After an anxious start – The Croileagan & The Midge seemed to hit it off. The group had not worked with 3 year olds before, and really did remarkably well; with a few refinements it would be excellent. Alex was worried about the lack of Gaelic vocabulary of the wee ones. The afternoon visit to The Sradagan was good. The group decided to go for a different sort of workshop as the children are fairly fluent Gaelic speakers. I felt that The Pied Piper of Hamelin adaptation would have been more fun for the older group as they had done some of the other activities before with Arthur and could have put what they learned with him into practice with the Pied Piper. However I didn’t know until too late that Arthur had visited. The animation exercise was great! With better timing and more availability of Artists this could have been a great project. In spite of the drawbacks everyone involved, children, leaders and artists has enjoyed it and got a tremendous amount out of it. Hopefully the leaders will be


confident enough to keep having a go themselves and keep in touch with the artists. All the leaders are looking forward to whatever is decided for a winding up session. I hope this plan doesn’t get forgotten! The more folk can be encouraged to encourage creativity the better, we all benefit from it at the end of the day.

Due to the timescale of the project in Caithness and Sutherland, and groups being closed over the summer holidays, it was felt that the area would benefit from a rerun.

Caithness and Sutherland –Phase 2 Training days for the Caithness and Sutherland rerun were booked for the last week of February 2004. The plan was as follows: Monday 23 February Music and Visual Art –Golspie Community Centre Wednesday 25 February Dance and Visual Art – Golspie Community Centre Thursday 26 February Gaelic Day with Meanabh-chuileag –Brora Community Centre Monday 1 March CASE Open Forum: Doug Goodkin and Orff Schulwerk –Brora Community Centre Initial groups involved with the original Caithness ands Sutherland ArtsPlay were contacted and asked to attend the training days. However, some of the groups no longer existed and others were not so enthusiastic. Over 40 voluntary and statutory sector organisations were contacted - but there was little interest in attendance. We, therefore, cancelled the first three days. Fifteen of the forty groups were asked why they didn’t attend. Reasons varied from anticipation of problems with the weather; insufficient staff cover; previous time spent on in-service training. The Open Forum, however, was well-attended –nineteen people all together from a variety of backgrounds. Some attendees were artists as well as childcare workers from the Caithness and Sutherland area. Four attendees came from Ross-shire.


Doug Goodkin is an Orff Schulwerk teacher and practitioner at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Orff Schulwerk is a method which teaches children music in a non-classical way. The workshop was delivered in a “hands on” way, as is the style of ArtsPlay, and was very relevant to both childcare workers and artists alike. The possibilities of continuation with the ArtsPlay project proved to have limitations in Caithness and Sutherland. The Open Forum identified a desire for artists to be involved in training again, and there is the possibility of taking the path forward through the artists. But there was no immediate conclusion available.

Western Isles – September to December 2002 Co-ordinator: Eilidh Thompson PLANNING THE TIMETABLES FOR ARTISTS/PLAYGROUPS With children being one of the main focus points of the project, and knowing that their attention span can vary, I decided to have artists attending the Playgroups etc. in groups of two as well as on their own. By doing this, there would be the chance for a fresh input from each artist during the course of each session as well as extra stimulation for the child. There is also less chance of the child being distracted and so the interest in art is maintained. There is also the benefit that if there is something that the child really is not interested in the session is not wasted as there will be a different media being used in which the child can maybe relate to better. By getting two artists working together at the Playgroup etc, children are also better able to see the link between different kinds of art. This is also valuable from the artist’s point of view as there is the chance for them to come together and feed of each other’s ideas and ways of achieving things. When planning the timetables, I alternated from the artist producing a session themselves to combining them with another artist e.g. drama-music, visual artstorytelling, storytelling-music, music-visual art etc. Area Forum The attendance at the Forum in the Western Isles was rather disappointing. It is never possible to pick a date that suits everyone,


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The Forum was very practical in its approach. It was obvious that the project had been a great success. The groups and artists had formed strong links. Artists had been encouraged to work together and this had proved most successful. There was a very re affirming session where people recalled incidents that had occurred during the ArtsPlay sessions that will stay with them. Janice Branley and Mairi Morrison lead a visual arts workshop that resulted in a large colourful banner representing how the participants felt about ArtsPlay The feeling was very positive. Everyone wanted to look for ways to continue sending artists in to groups, but several useful points were identified The groups felt that trying to fit in 16 sessions is too much in the short time. It was felt that artists should be encouraged to find out what artists had done in the sessions before them, as this would help with continuity. Groups would like a bank of artists who could work with the under fives. More Training Days for artists in remote areas, run by local artists who took part in the project, in order to add to the numbers of available artists. A Scrap Store was something that all groups felt would be useful. The very pragmatic approach of the Croileagan to the fact that only a few of our artists were fluent in Gaelic, allowed us to deliver a wide variety of workshops. They were prepared to work together with the artists translating words for the artists so that the children could integrate them into their vocabulary. This meant that their leaders could access the full range of skills we were able to offer and resulted in them feeling very positive and committed to the whole project.

Permanent Resource. There was general agreement that a training video with an optional Gaelic voiceover would be a very useful resource, both as a reminder for groups that had taken part and as a resource to ensure more groups could access the artist’s skills. All the groups wanted an Ocean Drum. This is a large flat drum with ball bearings in it that sounds like the Ocean. This had been introduced to the groups by the musician and had been a great success. It was agreed to put together a collection of musical instruments that could be circulated round the After School Clubs, as they don’t have access to musical instruments, though this is not a problem for the Playgroups.


Shetland – September to December 2002 Co-ordinator: Jane Moncrieff The ArtsPlay Shetland project started at the beginning of September 2002. The project kicked off with two days training involving workshops and information on child safety and management and explaining the ethos and aims of child play. The training weekend was led by Kay Smith, the regional co-ordinator for ArtsPlay and attended by local co-ordinator Jane Moncrieff. The training was well attended by the artists but less well by the Childcare groups representatives involved in the project. However, the individuals that attended found the training days very beneficial both in terms of finding out about the project and for bonding with the other people involved. The following groups were all included in ArtsPlay Shetland sessions to various degrees: Peerie Breeks Mother and Toddler Group, Mid Yell Nursery, Kinder Kids (16 sessions between three groups) Sound Out of School Club and Tiddly Winks pre-school group (16 between two groups) Burra Play Group (16 sessions) Lunnasting Playgroup (16 sessions) Bright Sparks Pre-school Group and FAME Out of School Club (16 sessions between two groups) The sessions were split between many groups, which meant that there was sometimes nine sessions to arrange in at any time, rather than five. This resulted in more work for local co-ordinator. The groups that received the full allocation of sessions had more commitment to the project and there fore showed more all round benefits.

LOCAL ARTISTS Issy Swanson (drama) Diane Leyland (dance) Both artists led workshops at the training weekend only. Isobel Anderson – puppet maker John Haswell (drama) Lesley Burr (visual arts, tiles, batik)


Helena Goodwin (visual arts) Roxane Permar (visual artist, sculptor) Mary Blance (storyteller dialect) Alice Mullay (musician) Millie Spurling (visual arts/crafts) The artists all enjoyed the involvement with the children and many were amazed at the length of time the under five’s could concentrate on a piece of work. Mod Roc – Helena Goodwin Excellent projects with Helena teaching the children how to develop ideas through sculpture. Favourite meals and musical head were two of Helena’s ideas that were worked up. Puppets & Tribal Drama Work - Isabel Anderson. Isabel worked particularly well with the out of school groups. A project over the October holiday was to create two tribes with logos, gang rituals, tribal dances, costume etc. Mosaics and Tiles, Ice Palace – Leslie Burr. Leslie worked with all groups and produced stunning range of ceramic tiles with one playgroup. Millie Spurling, Tinfoil Tiaras, Fairy Wands, Soap Making and Bath Salts. Millie was in most demand, as she seemed to relate very well with under-five’s She also came dressed as a fairy, which worked a treat. She described it afterwards as her ideal job. Roxane Permar – Mainly Big and Peerie Hooses. Very inventive use of spaces big and small children were very hands on in creating their own houses, sometimes even working as a group. Mary Blance & Jane Moncrieff - Storyteller Trowie Stories. Variable results with dialect storytelling, depending on how used the group was to dialect and culture and if they had been taught to actually listen. Alice Mullay - Music workshops. Very successful range of workshops with Alice, she was most in demand, perhaps reflecting Shetland’s very strong musical culture. However a lot of the success was down to Alice’s genius in passing on techniques for composing music with toddlers. Hugely enjoyable. John Haswell. Drama. Very successful sessions with one group, firing children’s imagination and confidence. Could have used him much more had he been available at the time.


CHILD CARE GROUP COMMENTS The timescale proved difficult for all the groups involved as the sessions had to be crammed into a short space of time, plus they wanted to work their own Christmas projects towards the end of the project. They were amazed at the standard of work produced and the periods of concentration the children could sustain. The pilot project has highlighted that the children are able to do much more that the group leaders thought. It has also stimulated them artistically, as they are full of new ideas and methods of passing on techniques to children. However, they would have liked more time with the artists to pass on skills, as they were often so busy supervising the children. Several commented on the confidence displayed by children that had not participated well in other means of communication but were able to channel into some form of artistic communication. Several of the Childcare workers felt that they did not have enough information or understanding of the project prior to the training weekend and were a bit confused about the whole thing. All of the childcarers involved were extremely positive about the project and wish that ArtsPlay Shetland will continue in some form but, due to pressure of work, find it difficult to commit to being pro-active in ensuring that it will proceed. ARTISTS COMMENTS For several of the artists this was the first time they have had to work with the under five’s, this did present a big challenge to some. Preparations were found to be inadequate or impractical for the age group or too time consuming. So the artists found that they had to be very flexible at times. Sometimes changing the idea altogether. Many were delighted with the concentration spans and the level of work that the children produced. However, they did find that it was very challenging to pass on techniques and ideas to the child carers when working with the children, as they generally need so much one –to – one. Several have commented on how much insight and confidence they have gained from working with the under five’s. One area that they felt they would like to have explored more fully was the idea of collaborating with other artists on the project but in reality there was no time to develop this. If ArtsPlay Shetland does continue many of the original artists would wish to be involved again.


LOCAL CO-ORDINATOR COMMENTS Found that I did not have enough clarity about the project at the beginning. When I was being asked questions at the training weekend I really didn’t know any answers. I think it could have been remedied by more contact with my regional coordinator, or if possible by being put in touch with other local co-ordinators who had completed a pilot project. Also a visit to all the participating groups and artists prior to the project commencing would have been very useful. The timescale was very challenging and as there was sometimes nine separate sessions to arrange (due to the Shetland sessions being split) it was difficult to bring he project in on time. It was impossible to get some of the groups to submit their evaluation forms in good time. This resulted in being unable to match up what the artist and group reported on any given session. It emerged that the only way to keep on top of the project was to keep in touch with artists and childcarers on a regular basis, usually via the telephone. This was time consuming but very successful, as I was able to resolve any challenges almost as they arose. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the Shetland Childcare Partnership had no person in post that I could liaise with and therefore had very little input while the project was running so there was minimum support on a local level for most of the time. However, near the end of the project they were able to help again and it was much appreciated. There was a good level of support from the regional co0ordinator and I felt that I could pick up the phone or email her at anytime. The open days were, on the whole, very well attended, with over eighty visitors at one playgroup; the whole of a local school turned out to another. The Shetland ArtsPlay Forum was well supported by interested local agencies and participants in the pilot project. I feel that overall the Shetland project was successful and that ArtsPlay should continue in some form on a local level.


Inverness and Nairn – January to March 2003 Co-ordinator: Jelica Gavrilovic NUMBER OF WORKSHOPS PER ARTIST Deborah Carter



Steve Sharpe



Geordie MacDonald Haig



Margaret Rae



Julie Lawson



Louise Marshall



Greg Dawson-Allen



Caroline Inckles



Lisa Storey

Gaelic Storytelling



1 dance, 3 clay, 2 music, 1 drama, 5 visual


1 dance, 1 clay, 3 music, 1 drama, 1 Gaelic, 5 Visual


1 dance, 2 clay, 4 music, 1 drama, 4 visual


2 clay, 4 music, 2 drama, 4 visual

Junior World

3 dance, 2 clay, 3 music, 2 drama, 2 visual


NUMBERS BENEFITING FROM ARTSPLAY Childminder The childminder shared her 12 sessions with other childminders. The total number receiving sessions was: 36 adults and 34 children Croileagan Croileagan spread their sessions throughout the week, so that each child could benefit. The total number receiving sessions was: 2 adults and 14 children Crown Primary School Nursery Crown gave their morning and afternoon children an equal number of workshops. The total number receiving sessions was: 4 staff and 37 children Fliperz Workshops were held once a week for the children attending after school. The total number receiving workshops was: 5 staff and 15 children Junior World, Nairn This organisation is the largest service-provider. The workshops were spread throughout the nursery, playgroup, and one for the Out-of-School Club during the Easter holidays. The total number receiving workshops was: 6 staff and 120 children. The Workshops VISUAL ART Visual art was brought to ArtsPlay by Deborah Carter with Clay; Geordie MacDonald Haig with Coloursplash, Julie Lawson with Arts and Crafts, Caroline Inckles with Messy Play. Each artist brought experience and skills into their activities which gave children the following: Confidence building Balance and manipulative skills Awareness and understanding of sensory experiences The development of creativity Social skills Concentration and focus Enjoyment


Children were given the chance to determine the activity, with adults withdrawing when it was possible to do so. Childcare staff had the opportunity to discover something new, and to develop the confidence to run similar sessions. CLAY Deborah worked with all the organisations involved in the project. Her workshops were mainly theme-based, sometimes to fit in with curricular activity in the nursery settings. The workshops were well-prepared and set-up and clear-up time was about 20 minutes. Children worked the full hour, as Deborah brought along two to three possibilities in case groups moved on quickly. One particular theme running through her workshops was the decoration of large board images; Chinese dragon, serpent, Easter chick, African mask. Deborah had prepared the boards beforehand. She explained the theme, gave children clay, pasta shapes, lentils, twigs, cones, moss, grass and paint and asked them to make shapes to decorate the image. The children determined the activity, making their own shapes with clay and choosing how to decorate them and where to put them. “The children’s interest was there straight from the beginning and sometimes you couldn’t hand out the clay fast enough”(Fliperz - African Mask) Adults gave help and advice when asked. Groups worked as one large unit either around tables or on the floor – this gave everyone the opportunity to communicate whilst working, as talking did not interfere with production. Age did not appear to be a barrier to any of the activities, they were popular and accessible from 3 to 12 years. The workshops were also enjoyed by childcare staff, who felt at ease with the activities and felt very able to produce their own sessions based on what they had seen. Most organisations had not considered adding different textures to clay, or making large collages with smaller shapes. What was apparent was that even pre-school children could make complex shapes and could choose how to decorate without advice. They simply understood the process and did it. “The main skills used were manipulative, creativity, socialising, confidence-building, being aware of their sensory experiences” (Fliperz) Another activity Deborah brought to her workshops, at Easter, was making and decorating eggs in egg boxes. “I have always been interested in the relationship of objects and packaging, and even at a young age, most children showed an appreciation of presentation as they either wrapped the eggs but allowed a bit of


egg to show through or used the tissue paper to form a cushion for the eggs to sit on.” (Deborah). Again children from all the groups took to this activity and became engrossed in the idea of making a complete presentation each. One worker pointed out that they weren’t allowed to use egg boxes in nurseries because of health and safety regulations. Deborah informed them that she gets all her materials from manufacturers, and she could do this for the organisations. This was a very useful point to make, as organisations are constantly faced with regulations around materials for activities – it is important to know that there are ways of dealing with such problems. Clay is a very versatile medium, and can be adapted to any activity. At Crown nursery Deborah brought in a castle made from shoe boxes, this was for the Sleeping Beauty theme. The castle provided a visual focus for the children to work from. “They were very excited when they saw it, and immediately launched into what they were going to do”(Crown) The children were very focused and animated and chose characters to make from clay. “One wee boy painted the room to burn the spinning wheels in red and orange flames, he went outside to collect twigs for the fire, and shook glitter over it to create sparks”. (Crown). This session was an excellent example of how effective visual stimuli are, and gave staff plenty of ideas for expanding on a theme. At Wendy’s the clay workshops were tackled in a different way. Wendy wanted skills-based sessions. Childcare workers could choose something they wanted more training on. Because Wendy was a childminder and worked from home, with a small group of children, it was easier to concentrate on activities like coiling, pinching and tile making. Although these were basic ceramic skills, the children and Wendy made many items and thoroughly enjoyed the activities. Clay’s versatility and therapeutic quality made it accessible to all ages, and childcare staff felt confident about doing similar sessions. Deborah brought new ways of working with clay, introduced different types, tools and stimuli – all inexpensive – to the organisations. Children were very able and enthusiastic in their approach to the workshops, and clearly showed an understanding for the tasks required from them. They were able to continue with activities, once adults withdrew, and finish off projects. COLOURSPLASH Geordie brought Coloursplash to 10 workshops for ArtsPlay. He offered a demonstration of spray-stencilling effects, using glitter on wet paint and off-


setting stencils and repeating shapes to make patterns. Coloursplash could be adapted to give a variety of effects and to fit the needs of each group of children. It was possible to do A2 or A3 size pictures, or one large composition on which everyone did their bit. Geordie brought his own hand-made hardboard stencils, a huge variety of different sizes and shapes, in which it was also possible to incorporate themes. These could represent land, sea or sky. It was also possible to make abstract composites, or simply one image. He also provided the paper, glitter and paints, in a variety of strong, bright colours with high resolution. “It was fantastic, the effect was great and the ideas Geordie had was interesting. The children had so much fun they all joined in with excitement and interest, you could see the concentration in their faces”.(Junior World).The older children didn’t want to stop at Junior World and the staff felt confident with replicating the workshop. At Croileagan, children were shown how to allow the materials to assist them in making an image. Individuals were given the opportunity to explore shapes and colours of their choice. They were also given the opportunity to operate as a group, this enhanced co-operation skills. It was a confidence-building experience to lift up the stencils to reveal a beautiful image and to know that it was made by you. All children required assistance with the sprayers. One boy, with a physical disability found it difficult to manipulate the handle, this could be dealt with by changing the size of the handle, making it easier for those with immature motor skills to take part. However, the next day, Croileagan had another session and the children remembered how to get the best out of the sprayers – proving that children learn quickly when they are eager to get on with an activity. “…. it was great to see the Coloursplash materials work so effectively, the kids got right to it”. At Fliperz, again children were eager to get started. Geordie gave ideas as to how the stencils could form a picture. The children learnt not to spray too much paint on the paper or it would run, and how to design their own picture. “The main skill the artist was using was communication about what to do with the stencils and sprays”. The activity was extended by giving children smaller paper and templates. They gained knowledge on how to build up on a picture and on different techniques, i.e. 3D. The activity lasted the full hour, and children lead the process. Geordie took Coloursplash to one of Wendy’s childminding groups in Inverness. The participants found it a very addictive activity. “ It was easy to do and learn the


techniques with rapid results which were pleasing to the eye”. (Wendy). There were a high proportion of carers at this workshop making it possible to give more verbal advice and input, and more 1 to 1 tuition. At Crown, Geordie wanted the children to get a sense of discovery and wait and see, when the stencils are removed revealing the painted shapes underneath. This was another opportunity for children to explore shapes and colours themselves. Nearly all the children were specific about which colours and shapes they would use. The large group broke into cell groups so all could reach the materials within their own workspace. “It was important to order the activities into clear stages and areas of the room to allow the group to function. Pre-school children need this to avoid large-scale muddles with the materials they are using”.(Geordie). A great deal of work was done in 1 hour. Coloursplash was another popular workshop with children and workers. Its’ instant gratification, use of bright colours, glitter and professionally-made stencils gave it a magical quality, and a sense of wonder. Coloursplash is a good example of mixing enjoyment with learning, and achieving an end result. ARTS AND CRAFTS Julie Lawson brought her skills as a visual artist, with a variety of experience and knowledge in the arts. She likes to work with paint, texture, crafts and sculpture. She brought all these elements into her workshops. There was little adult participation required in Julie’s workshops, and adults could withdraw to allow children to lead the activity. Julie often worked on themes, asking what organisations would like. This approach helped to form a good basis for communication for Julie, and her workshops complemented the work of the organisations. At Croileagan, Julie brought activities for snow for her first session. The children were given a story, which was easy to translate into Gaelic. Then she showed the children various ways they could create a snow picture. They all worked on one large composition, with 2 paint colours, to encourage children to mix them for different hues, and a variety of tools to mark with, including toy cars. One boy at first didn’t want to get messy, but was intrigued by the idea of painting with cars, he soon got stuck in. There was little adult participation required; children continued to experiment with colours and patterns after adults withdrew. “The children were encouraged to follow instruction, but actually most were too busy making their own mark and experimenting with material, they were totally engrossed in the activity”.


(Croileagan). The workers said they would be confident running a similar session, as the children love to experiment with paint. Another workshop at Croileagan was based on the Easter theme. This entailed using boiled eggs, marbles and golf balls to make marks, also rolling them down slides in paint to see the effect. Colour-mixing with cellophane sandwiches was also introduced, to experiment with different effects and texture. “I really enjoyed working with this group – Maree and Marion are so encouraging and the children are so keen”. Again, another successful session. This was repeated at Crown Nursery. Fliperz experienced a two-hour workshop with Julie, on the theme of bugs. This was for the Easter holiday, for the Out-of-School Club. The children were given the opportunity to develop skills in different crafts. They made mould modroc caterpillar fingers, PVA and tissue paper butterflies, secret snails – wax on lining paper, pipe cleaner bees, polystyrene spiders and ladybird and bee masks. The session began with a story and ended with children buzzing about outside, playing out bug scenes. This workshop entailed using a wide range of resources, and gave staff more ideas on craft skills. This workshop was a good example of how children can take on a theme and develop it into other areas like play-acting. Wendy had Julie for a couple of sessions as well as the open evening. Wendy particularly enjoyed the arts and crafts workshops, and found them full of ideas for her childminding business. One session covered aspects of mosaic. Julie showed that different materials could be used, found objects, smashed rocks, old pottery, to create patterns. She brought along books to give examples of work. The children found the activity therapeutic and engrossing. Children enjoy searching through small objects, and like to collect bits and pieces as treasure. This gave Wendy and the children an opportunity to use the things they had collected from beaches and walks. An opportunity to bring the environment into the arts. Julie’s sessions were educational, informative, well-planned and had good followthrough. She adapted her skills to the environment, and childcare staff felt at ease with her work. Her approach was that of simplicity, and learning through enjoyment. Her activities incorporated messy play and experimentation, as well as producing an end result. PLAYDOUGH Caroline took the medium of play dough into her workshops. She wanted to give workers and children the opportunity to do messy play, involving art. Children were given the opportunity to make dough from scratch. They were given the ingredients, flour, salt, water, corn flour (for different texture), and powder paint. Ingredients were placed in various containers and the process explained. They had the


opportunity to feel the different stages the mixture went through, from soft to lumpy etc. Crown Nursery experimented with dough. Children could build up and create with the medium they had made themselves, adding different colours from the powder paint available. “Once set upon their task they could work a long time on their own just spreading and feeling the “ingredients”. The corn flour dough was also well-received, children were happy to experiment with varying consistencies. “It was great to give children a really messy experience”. (Crown). Caroline used her obvious enthusiasm for the task which really helped the children to get the most out of the activity. Although play dough was not new to staff, the whole process of involving the children in a hands-on way was a new experience. Caroline also felt that she had learned from the playleaders approach and manner to the children. “They were very calm, patient and supportive and never once lost their rag or got stressed over mess”. At Croileagan, the children mainly led the activity. They were given the opportunity to use their manipulative skills. The workers realised that it was not necessary to weigh out exact amounts, that the children could decide for themselves what consistency they were happy with. “The children became involved in using the materials and the whole sensory experience.” (Croileagan). The staff noted that Caroline introduced some alternative tools, and different directions the activities could go, i.e. group pictures, prints, sculptures, mixing with drama and movement games. Wendy the childminder also learnt that play dough could be used as a form of selfexpression. It was creative, manipulative and helped to develop concentration. Caroline’s workshops gave an alternative approach to play dough. Instead of rolling pre-made dough and cutting out shapes, children were given the opportunity to become involved in the whole experience. This enhanced their concentration and cooperation skills, as well as motor skills. MUSIC BOX Margaret’s workshops provide a variety of activities designed to give pre-schoolers a fun introduction to musical concepts. These are based on the Kodaly approach to music education, which involves action songs and rhymes, listening games, a playalong percussion session and a selection of singing games. The material is carefully chosen to be suited to the young child’s developing voice. Recent research shows that participation in singing games can aid other areas of the child’s development, including use of language, fluency of speech, memory,


concentration and social skills. Whilst the focus is firmly on fun, the aims of the 35 curriculum are kept closely in mind. During ArtsPlay, Margaret had the opportunity to take her workshop to older children at Fliperz Out-of –School Club. Fliperz responded with enthusiasm to Margaret’s workshop. She gave some of the children the opportunity to learn a bit of penny whistle, which one boy showed a great interest for. The workshop consisted of a mixture of musical activities, Margaret was ready to abandon activities which didn’t capture the children’s imagination and attention, and to extend the activities which did. This spontaneous approach was a new idea for the workers, and they found that the attitude of the artist towards the children enhanced their enthusiasm for the activities. “All the adults took part and learnt a lot about the history of some of the instruments. I would be able to run a similar session with the group”. (Fliperz). At Junior World, children were encouraged to use their own self-expression and to incorporate their ideas into the session. Adults took part, but mainly in a supervisory capacity. The children were able to use a variety of percussion instruments to accompany pieces of music; they were encouraged to listen to the beat and rhythm and to play in time to the music. Children also liked to see adults participating in the activity. The workers learnt that the body could be used as an instrument, and that this type of activity was good as an ice-breaker. One worker revealed that she used to play guitar, Margaret pointed out that most nursery rhymes can be played on three to four chords, and encouraged the worker to bring in her guitar. Live music is often far more encouraging, and can give children more of an incentive to take part. At Croileagan, Margaret brought along Monica, who occasionally worked for Music Box, to introduce Gaelic translation. Monica led the Gaelic language sessions. Children were given the opportunity to have fun with music. They named instruments in Gaelic and English, reinforced colour and body parts. They took turns and made decisions for themselves. This workshop enabled children to practice their listening skills, to follow instructions and concentration. It also introduced a whole range of new musical activities to the workers. Music Box introduced new ways of approaching musical activities, and was adapted to suit the over 5’s. Margaret introduced a variety of instruments to the groups and took them through the process of Kodaly and his methods. Music Box not only enhances co-ordination and concentration, but also co-operation and listening. It forms a holistic approach to the development and education of the child, allowing learning to exist alongside fun. Margaret was very happy to share her knowledge and skills with childcare staff.


DRUMMING Steve brought different elements into his workshops in drumming/music. Everyone was keen to have African drums, and he obliged. He often began with a welcoming song, with everyone sat round listening and joining in. He would introduce body percussion. The workshop would move from the warm-up and ice-breaker to encouraging activity, by introducing the array of percussion instruments. At Fliperz he gave children the chance to make up their own rhythms, and to establish group responsibility. He encouraged respect and mystery for the drums. Children could give ideas, and direction in the activity. “Skills the artist was using were his whole approach to the children, ideas and feedback, tone of voice, what he had for the children”. Adult participation was not necessary, only occasional instruction from Steve. At Croileagan, adults were involved throughout, probably because of the ages of the children being 2-3 years. The group found the workshop exciting, noisy and interesting. It was very energetic and great fun. Steve managed to maintain their interest for the whole session. Lots of listening skills were used, and children followed instructions well. “I felt Steve interacted with the children really well and went out of his way to learn some Gaelic words to deliver his workshop”. The staff had decided that they would try to make their music box more interesting, and found the workshop to be of great value to their curriculum, “This was a great session for bringing a multi-cultural aspect into the curriculum that we deliver to the children”. Junior World found Steve’s workshop simple and effective. Children were shown how to make sound and rhythms with easy activities, and their listening skills were put to the test. They found the stop/go conductor game and the egg-shakers great fun. Children could also incorporate different speeds and different sounds; with the large drums, they could experiment and investigate sound. The workshop boosted workers’ confidence with presenting music sessions. This was another music workshop which enhanced social and co-operation skills and gave workers more new ideas for music sessions. Most organisations confessed to not feeling comfortable running “performance” activities, this had more to do with staff lack of personal confidence. Steve’s workshop helped to break down the barriers, by encouraging fun as the main ingredient for both adults and children. He pointed out that children will enjoy a music session more, if adults are seen to be very enthusiastic about it too.


DANCE Louise brought her skills as a dance workshop artist to ArtsPlay. She integrated different elements of her workshop into themes requested by the groups, for instance, Chinese New Year, on which drama , and clay were also introduced for some of the organisations. This gave some groups the opportunity to have one theme running through different art forms. Louise’s workshops were, again simple and informative. “Louise used simple movement skills to put together a great dance routine. The instructions were easy to understand and put into practice”. (Junior World). No set-up time was needed for her sessions, just bodies, music and imagination. At Fliperz, Louise introduced a street routine for the older children. It was good for confidence-building and had an element of “coolness” about it, which encouraged them to take part. The difficulty in doing dance within organisations’ premises, was that there was not much room for everyone to have enough personal space to move freely. However, some could book bigger rooms, in adjacent buildings like community centres. Louise was happy to share her ideas with playleaders as she acknowledged that it was difficult to develop and apply methods to different topics without knowledge of the process, and workers admitted sliding into the same routines. They used dance as just dance, rather than as a form of self-awareness. However, Louise encouraged workers to see how simple dance and movement could be. “I would be very confident, and knowing the children would enjoy this and participate helps me have a good go”. (Junior World). DRAMA Greg brought drama and storytelling to the organisations involved in ArtsPlay. He introduced miming, improvisation, drama games and story- invention. He also worked with themes. He introduced basic drama games that staff could adapt to suit specific projects. Greg found working in partnership with childcare workers a useful and informative exercise. At Fliperz he introduced drama and theatre games. Each game had a thread which led into the next one. There must always be an end-product, either a piece of drama or improvised piece of drama. Children were very enthusiastic and chose to go with the flow of the workshop. “I enjoyed this session as there was a lot of laughing and everyone else enjoyed it”. The children at Fliperz Out-of-School Club, readily responded to Greg’s requests and instructions, constantly coming up with new ideas for the theme of “video”.


At Sradagan, where a much larger space was available, a bigger and older group of children, Greg could introduce larger movement games like shape-shifting. The group here thoroughly enjoyed the hour-long activity, and staff appreciated Greg’s notes at the end of the workshop. Greg improvised his workshop for each group, and had to rise to the challenge of creating a new structure for each organisation. Every group has it’s own culture, and drama needs time to adapt to that, probably more so than any other art form. Both in the case of drama and dance, artists felt that each group would benefit more if they had a series of 3 to 4 sessions rather than just one or two. The theme-building can take a while. However, at Crown, Greg introduced the theme of Chinese New Year in one session, asking children to mime out animals, to talk about colour and shapes in the dragon, to educate them in the meaning of the new year. This session worked very well, and was a continuation of the theme from other artists’ workshops. The idea of collaboration appealed to the artists and they would have liked to have done more in ArtsPlay. GAELIC STORYTELLING Lisa brought her stories in Gaelic to Sradagan and Croileagan. Each had one session. Lisa writes her own stories. For the Croileagan , she used visual aids, puppets, to keep the interest of the children. “This session was very enjoyable partly, I think, because the Gaelic group in Hilton seems a very happy, well-run group”. The workers, again had plenty of ideas they could take away, and the children were engrossed in the activity. At Sradagan, Lisa told stories to two separate groups. They were both about animals. Some of the younger children wanted to expand on some of the sections of the story, this, Lisa allowed to happen, as she could then bring them back in to the original storyline. The session allowed for use of imagination and self-expression, whilst encouraging listening and participation skills.

OPEN DAYS/EVENINGS Each organisation was asked to hold an open session to introduce ArtsPlay to other groups or to parents who may be interested in the project. Each open session was designed to fit the needs of each organisation involved, and all organisations took the initiative to arrange a time suitable and to invite people along to the sessions. The local co-ordinator attended, along with an artist of the organisation’s choice. One group decided to have a display instead. This is a breakdown of the sessions held and numbers attending.


Childminder Wendy chose to have her open session in the evening, at the AGM of Holm Church Childminding Group. 10 people attended. Julie Lawson provided a workshop on weaving techniques which the childminders could develop with the children they worked with. Julie brought along books, frames, materials and examples of weaving for the group. She demonstrated the art of weaving, and gave the group a vast range of materials they could work with; not just wool, but tissue, sticks, ribbon, twine. She showed everyone how the end product could be displayed and presented, i.e., that it was possible to tuft the surface to create different textures. The final product could then be made into a card, or picture, or hanging. The workshop could have gone on for much longer. The childminders found it a very informative session, and were eager to go away and try it out. All agreed that children would find this activity enjoyable and engrossing. Croileagan The Croileagan in Hilton chose to have an open morning, on the first day after the Easter holidays. Six interested groups attended, including another Croileagan and representatives from the private sector providing day care provision. Steve Sharpe presented a music and drumming workshop. He took the group through body rhythm, and body sounds, introductory songs, making rhythm to onomatopoetic vocabulary, and merging rhythms with “scat� cards. He then introduced the group to the African drums. Throughout the sessions, Steve explained the intention behind the different aspects of the workshop, and how they could be used to introduce children to basic music activities. He also emphasised that fun was the operative word, as this gave children confidence to not only join in, but to make suggestions and to take control. He recorded the workshop and planned to make copies for those attending. Crown Primary Nursery Crown chose to hold a workshop during their open afternoon for parents. Deborah Carter brought her clay workshop into the Nursery; the project was to decorate an African mask, and to make Easter eggs. 14 children took part, and over 30 parents visited in 1.5 hours. There was great interest in the workshop, and the children carried on with their play whilst parents were coming in and out of the room.


The children were shown how to make shapes with clay and what they could decorate the shapes with. Pasta, lentils, grass, cones, twigs, shiny shapes and paint were all available to give the shapes another dimension. The shapes were then placed onto a ready-made mask – the overall effect being that of a painted war mask. This was a very engrossing activity. Fliperz Fliperz chose to hold a public display in Inverness Library. We put together some of the children’s pieces from the workshops, and made up a story board. Julie Lawson’s bug theme was the focal point, with clay out on display too. Photographs showed examples of other workshops too. It would be difficult to estimate numbers visiting the library over the period of three weeks , the display was up. Junior World Junior World decided to hold an open evening. They invited Margaret Rae to do the workshop and 10 childcare groups attended including a Croileagan from Croy. The Croileagan were interested in having the songs translated into Gaelic. All groups were enthusiastic about ArtsPlay and wanted to know if they could access it for their organisation. Margaret took the childcare workers through her workshop and pointed out how things could be changed, simple instruments like claves which could be made by hand etc.

OPEN FORUM The Open Forum gave everyone the opportunity to get back together towards the end of the project. Participants could discuss how things went, and what they would like to do in the future. Outside agencies were also invited along. The participants were: Local co-ordinator – ArtsPlay Regional co-ordinator – ArtsPlay Representatives from four of the organisations involved in ArtsPlay – including Fliperz, Crown Nursery, Childminding, Junior World Five artists from ArtsPlay


One outside artist HIMATS SPIRTO Youthlink Highland Council – Arts Development Inverness Childcare Partnership Inverness and Nairn Enterprise Twenty-two people attended throughout the day. There were two workshops in music with Margaret Rae and Steve Sharpe. Everyone was asked to produce a small wish list, a memorable moment and a funny incident. Wish list: This included items like: an African drum , a small kiln, guitar lessons, musical instruments, a digital movie camera, stencils, and a music library. Ideas came from both childcarers and artists. People also mentioned things they would still like to do, these included; A giant mural involving all the visual artists’ specialities which would go on the side of the new Eastgate Shopping Centre, Inverness. A day up to the elbows in clay, paint and music – Julie Lawson – Crown Nursery. A large Coloursplash picture – Deborah Carter. To do something that involves the community, is lasting, and incorporates as many of the arts as possible – Junior World.

Memorable and funny moments included: Clay modelling at Fliperz – lots of mess and fun! Moving 60 soaking-wet paintings through four sets of doors into another room , in twenty minutes! - Geordie – Coloursplash. The Chinese New Year Dance devised by the children with Louise and then set to Chinese music at Crown Nursery. Boom whackers brought in by Steve – simple but brilliant – everyone agreed on this. All sessions have left some memorable moments – Junior World. The childminders becoming so engrossed in Coloursplash that they forgot about the children! - Wendy.


Everyone was asked what they had learnt about children, the arts, and the organisations involved during the life of the project: About children: Children are naturally creative – fun is the most important ingredient. Adults should have fun too – this allows children to enjoy the learning process even more. Children’s self-esteem improves during activities. Children’s natural creativity can be released. ArtsPlay has generated ideas, social skills, fun, confidence and self-esteem. Artists have found a point at which children start to lead an activity. Flexibility and adaptability are crucial to the learning process – change can be exciting and therefore encourages more activity. The exchange in creativity is a two-way system. Adults also become more confident as children enjoy what they are doing. About the arts: Expensive equipment is not necessary, imagination is. There is something out there for everyone. Art doesn’t have to be scary! The arts can fit any environment. New skills are developed and existing ones can be reinforced. One theme can be put through all the art forms. It is possible to take one idea and use all the skills to explore a child’s full potential. Art can be simple, and be easy to do for everyone. The process is important, not just the end product. The organisations Networking has been useful for the organisations. Meeting and interacting with artists from different backgrounds has allowed barriers to be broken down for childcare staff to the process of creativity. Being able to share ideas with artists and explore new ideas has reinforced knowledge of childcarers’ own experience in delivering the arts in their environment. The project has been supportive of the organisations’ needs and adaptable and flexible to fit in with day-to-day routine. Even in a childminding environment, it’s possible to do anything. Breaking boundaries has been an important learning curve. At the end of the forum everyone discussed the way forward, and the possible exit strategy.


Kay, the regional co-ordinator for ArtsPlay mentioned that a feasibility study for a Scrap store was in process, and that SPIRTO were possibly interested in the NC in Creativity and Childcare. Some artists felt that ArtsPlay had opened new doors for them, and other possibilities were now apparent, especially with regards to training workers in the childcare and education sectors. All organisations present wanted ArtsPlay to continue, and for the training to be extended. People felt that funding was the only barrier – everything else was in place. Artists agreed that there was value to continuing with the same groups; workshops could be developed further, and be part of curriculum provision. Groups from low-income areas in and around Inverness felt that ArtsPlay filled a vital service, as access and uptake of the arts was poor. Bringing them directly to people was the right approach. The artists and local co-ordinator, during the project of ArtsPlay had formed a steering committee, and were seeking funding to continue with the project. This was supported by the organisations. The exit strategy therefore, was formed. Comments on the NC by participating staff: Two members of staff from Junior World, two from Croileagan and Wendy the childminder undertook the NC in Creative and Aesthetic Experiences from children. Crown Nursery felt that as qualified teachers they did not need to undertake the qualification, and Fliperz was undergoing staff changes during the process of ArtsPlay.

Those that took part felt: • • • • •

That the NC coincided with SVQs during ArtsPlay and gave extra work during this period. That one evaluation form per workshop was sufficient and that it could be used as part of the NC, rather than doing a separate reflective report. That, ideally, it should be integrated into the Scottish Vocational Qualifications. That, even though one workshop per week was the norm, any more during a working week would have added to the workload of studying. That the local co-ordinator could have been the direct link for the NC rather than the college – there was a feeling of isolation.


• •

It was, however a great opportunity to take a qualification whilst the project was in process, otherwise, most staff would have not undertaken the NC Everybody felt that the NC should be part of the current childcare and education system of qualifications, as creativity is an integral part of child development, and gives an holistic approach to work being done in childcare and education settings. It was an important move, in the right direction, to ensure that the arts stayed on board in early-years education.

Moray, Badenoch and Strathspey –January to April 2003 Co-ordinator: Clare Evans-Teush The Moray, Badenoch and Strathspey ArtsPlay project got underway after two very successful and fun training/awareness days at the East Grange Loft, Kinloss. The artists and childcarers got to know one another and found out more about the aims of the project. Due to the snowy conditions of the first week of the project there were no sessions booked. By the beginning of February the sessions were underway and by the Easter break half of the required 12 sessions had been completed by most of the childcare settings. Right from the start the evaluations from both artists and childcarers were on the whole very positive – with very few teething problems. The pre-school settings were keen to continue themes they had been exploring previous to the ArtsPlay project and the artists responded well to this with preparatory conversations with the childcarers prior to their visits. The after school club has no obligation to follow a curriculum- this gave the artists more freedom with their brief. All of the childcare settings except the Kinloss After School Club have hosted their open event. o The registered childminder held her open evening in the Lhanbryde Community Hall with some 30 people attending, mostly other registered childminders and Marie Buchan from the Scottish Childminders Association. o Kincraig under fives held an evening event at their childcare venue, with around 25 people attending – including special needs workers, childminders and parents. o Pinefield playgroup held theirs during playgroup time with a session with a music artist and the children followed by a session with a visual artist and the parents. There were around 20 people involved plus about 12 children from the playgroup.




Kinloss after-school club have decided not to take up the opportunity for an open event – citing reasons of artist’s availability i.e. their chosen artists being unavailable on the day they wanted going to hold it. The Croileagan, Newtonmore hosted an open evening at their setting and it was part fundraiser for the playgroup. There were around 30 adults (mostly parents and grandparents) and children.

The open events thus far have been very successful with all attending getting a real feel of what ArtsPlay was about – whether they were childcarers or parents of children attending setting, other interested parties or those involved in the childcare sector as managers or networkers. The Forum was held on the 24th of April at the Inchberry Hall. There were some 25 delegates – some of whom dropped in rather than attended the whole day. Most of the artists and childcarers attended and several professionals mainly from the Moray Council (see attached list). It proved a useful day – a wind – up process as well as a chance to get together as a group again after all the hard work of the project. A very informative talk was given by Dr Chris Wiles, Clinical Psychologist at Dr Gray's in Elgin, working with children. He was accompanied by Susan Leslie – Health Promoting Schools officer for Health Promotions who also spoke about her role and the promotion of positive mental health. Both speakers struck chords with artists and childcarers alike, they have worked throughout the ArtsPlay project promoting creative self expression – so important for happy, mentally healthy children and adults. The artists and childcarers were given the opportunity at the forum to comment on how they felt the project went and what they got out of it and also what they would like to see for the future for arts in the childcare sector both for themselves and for the children they work with. (See attached). There was some useful discussion with Nick Fearne Arts Development Officer with the Moray Council and with Dr Wiles about possible avenues for funding further ArtsPlay type projects in the catchment area. It was generally agreed that for the process to be sustainable, funding would need to be found for support, either for a co-ordinators post or for ArtsPlay 2 a project which reaches other childcare settings. Kay is in discussion with Nick Fearne about this. In my opinion and given the content of the evaluations by both artists and childcarers the aims and objectives of ArtsPlay were fully met in the Moray, Badenoch and Strathspey area. There is clearly, given the comments from the forum and also from interest generated throughout the life of the project, a demand for more childcare settings to be given access to the type of training


ArtsPlay provides. Whether that demand can be met relies on the availability of funding and on the importance placed on the arts in the childcare sector by the Scottish Executive among others. There is no doubt that the childcare sector is an area where funding for the arts is poor and projects such as ArtsPlay inspire the childcare sector, if only in a small way, to become advocates for the arts and all they have to offer in the area of child development.

Lochaber – February to June 2003 Co-ordinator: Helen Semple The ArtsPlay project in Lochaber began in mid February with the appointment of the local Co-ordinator on the 17th. Due to the short lead in time available for this area of the Highlands, the participating groups, although already contacted, were not met until the week prior to the first training days, held on the 24th and 25th of February. The participating groups with the amount of Artists sessions and average children numbers were – The MacIntosh playgroup in Fort William 12 1 hour sessions with on average 10 children per session with two childcare workers The Waterworld crèche and after school club in Fort William 12 1 hour sessions with on average 8 children per session with one childcare worker The Lochaber Out of School Care Club in Fort William 12 1 hour sessions with on average 16 children per session with two childcare workers Ellie Fraser, the childminder in Spean Bridge, north Lochaber 5 1 hour sessions with on average 4 children The Croileagan playgroup in Acharacle, west Lochaber 9 1 hour sessions (plus training day) with on average 11 children per session and three childcare workers The Sradagan after school club in Caol, Fort William 1 1 hour session with 14 children and two childcare workers (See updates for further information on each group) The ArtsPlay Artists had already been contacted during February with eight Artists secured for the project, working in a variety of Art forms. Two of the Gaelic speaking Artists in Visual Art and Music combined their sessions in some cases. (See contacts list for the breakdown of Art forms)


Six Artists attended the training days, held in Caol Youth centre, along with two childcare workers and the regional and local Co-ordinators. The poor attendance of childcare workers was due to a combination of factors including being unable to take time off work or organize cover. This number was quite normal for Lochaber however and I was not worried about the outcome of the project based on this initial response, as large distances and insufficient time are the main obstacles to community involvement in the area. The beauty of the ArtsPlay project allows for these obstacles as the Artists come to the groups premises wherever that is and provide training and support to the group in the most effective way. The Training Days, despite the low numbers, were very successful and the participants gained a great deal from being all together for the two days. This is a good idea at the start of any project and I think would have really benefited the other childcare workers to identify with the ArtsPlay project more, even though it proved to be a very successful project in the area.

ArtsPlay Programmes More meetings and phone calls with the groups followed the training days and a programme was organized between the groups and the Artists to begin on March 10th. (See programme tables) The childcare workers in Acharacle Croileagan came together on the 22nd March for a training day in Acharacle as they had been unable to attend the days in Fort William. This was a very successful day with 5 childcare workers, four artists (including two Gaelic speakers) and the local Co-ordinator taking part. A local catering business was asked to provide lunch and a local teenager provided a crèche for the day, which helped the local rural economy. (see programme for the day) The Sradagan after school group received one session with the Gaelic speaking Visual Art Artist and left the project due to the group finishing for the season. Further sessions for this group will be planned for the future. The ArtsPlay project in Lochaber included the Easter holidays and this proved to be an advantage to three of the groups, with three Easter programmes running during the two weeks.


The Lochaber Out of School Care club decided to receive all their sessions during this time and provided a model for a more concentrated approach to the project with Artists visiting the group every day for 12 days. The childminder also had her 5 sessions over the two weeks, with the Waterworld group receiving four sessions split between the younger and older children, which also spread the experience between more childcare workers. The other groups were met prior to the holidays and we arranged the programme for after the Easter break. The groups then continued with their sessions until the 28th of May.

Training sessions During May and early June, open training sessions were organized to attract other childcare workers in Lochaber, plus other childminders and also the Sradagan workers. Publicity was sent out to all the childcare groups in the area and Sradagan contact. Publicity was also sent out to childminders through the Childminders Association worker and May Newsletter. Three open sessions were arranged for the 19th and 26th of May and 2nd June in Caol Youth centre in Fort William with Music, Visual Art and Drama. (See publicity sheet) Disappointingly, the numbers were small but the sessions were very enjoyable and worthwhile for those that took part. Again this confirms that sessions are best arranged to take place within the groups time and venue. Total numbers of participants for the three sessions was 13. Some of the ArtsPlay groups did not wish their own training sessions as explained in the update, apart from the Waterworld group who thoroughly enjoyed their session with 8 childcare workers taking part and the Lochaber Out of School Care club who received a session in June, with two childcare workers and some of the clubs high school pupil helpers also benefiting from the training session.

Resource pack The Acharacle Croileagan specifically wished for a resource pack of ideas and this was put together from the ArtsPlay Artists with additional information from the previous Creative Movement and Dance Education Leader post in Lochaber. These packs were handed out at the Forum and posted to the groups that could not attend.



The Forum arranged for June 3rd in Caol Youth centre in Fort William, was a successful event with 15 people attending including Artists, childcare workers, the local and regional co-coordinators, the childminders association worker, the Arts Development officer (job share), representatives from Lochaber Enterprise and HI~Arts and the Lochaber Family Resource and Childcare partnership officer. (See programme for the day) Some very useful and interesting comments came back after the feedback session and the Lochaber Enterprise representative, Helen Cameron, provided verbal support for any future developments of the project, as did Emma Tayler the Lochaber Family Resource and Childcare Partnership officer. With my other job as the Arts Development officer in Lochaber (job sharing with Ali MacDonald) I was in the fortunate position of being able to assure the group that I could pick up this project within my Highland Council position and take it forward. A display of photographs from the project was also presented at the Forum. Quotes from the ForumDuring the Feedback session, I asked the group to think about what they liked and disliked, what they would change about the project and suggestions for the future. I also asked them the question, what is Creativity? A few of the quotes are listed below. Dancer – “I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to work with very young children – a rewarding experience for me and extremely valuable.” Childcare worker – “It was great fun! Inspirational for children and carers. The children loved the opportunity to explore and use their creativity and enjoyed praise for their work.” Drama worker – “ I did not like the fact that we were unable to bring the groups ideas to fruition due to the short timescale.” Dancer – “I wasn’t very keen on the lack of space at Waterworld purely because of safety and felt that this could have been improved but the opportunity to work outside helped my sessions.” Childminder – “More child minder involvement would be great with a longer less intensive project.”


Childcare worker – “I don’t think I would change anything about this project but what perhaps would be a good idea would be to conclude the project with a performance with the children including all the art forms.” Visual Artist – “ Creativity is Exploration, Experimentation and Imagination.” Childcare worker – “ Creativity = Expression Every individual has creativity within them, it is just about tapping into it. Good emotional outlet – many thoughts and feelings can be expressed.” Visual Artist – “Creativity is feeling inspired to express…”

Future Since the Forum, I have met with Emma Tayler, the Lochaber Family Resource and Childcare Partnership officer and discussed how best to develop ArtsPlay for Lochaber. Emma is extremely keen to include the pre-school age group in particular, into her overall childcare strategy for the area and will act as the lead organization for any funding bids. The pre-school Arts project will then feed into the after school clubs that are being put in place by both the Lochaber Family Resource and Childcare Partnership and the Highland Council Education, Culture and Sport service in Lochaber and also the Out of School Care provision supported by the LFRCP. I will now be putting together a project proposal in partnership with the LFRCP and the Lochaber childcare groups, for the pre-school age and seeking funding over the next few months. I have also made contact with some of the ArtsPlay local co-ordinators from other parts of the Highlands and will pick up on any joint working that may be available through these contacts.

Budget Although £15,000 was allocated to this project in Lochaber, due to there only being five groups instead of six and less sessions being taken by the childminder, plus the project costing less than estimated in terms of accommodation, fees, venue hire etc. the overall budget came in, in the region of £7,500.


This does not include the funding to purchase a permanent resource for each group (£80 each). The groups have been given this opportunity and I am waiting on responses coming back from the groups with only the childminder taking advantage so far. Overall impression of the ArtsPlay project in Lochaber To me the project was a delight to work on. ™ It was a focused project giving childcare groups and Artists an opportunity to work together for the benefit of everyone - children, childcare workers and Artists. ™ There was sufficient funding to pay Artists for their time and travel and for materials. ™ Everyone gained experience from each other with the Artists at times finding themselves on steep learning curves especially confronted by a large group of 3 year olds. ™ Support was there from HI~Arts and Kay, the Regional co-ordinator ™ Sufficient time and funding for the Local Co-ordinator to work with each group and the Artists. ™ It was a success because the project had a clear understanding of what it was there to achieve. Overall I enjoyed working on the project immensely because it was totally focused on a section of the society and my attention was not taken away, as happens so often in Arts Development, by other priorities, Community needs or Agency initiatives. Points to consider however for future projects might be to ™ Offer payment to childcare workers to attend training sessions in the evening or week-ends ™ Focus on pre-school age or after/out of school care groups separately. ™ Concentrate on holiday periods to give support to holiday clubs. ™ Develop the training of the Artists more within the project as some of the Lochaber group had no previous experience of working with pre-school age.


Total number of participants to benefit from the project (where the same child attended more than one session, they have not been counted again)

Children aged 2 to 4 Children aged 5 to 12 Childcare workers Artists -

45 62 17 9

Total number of Artists sessions Total number of Training sessions

51 9

Orkney – September to December 2003 Co-ordinator: Orkney Pre-School Play Association Stimulating Creativity was launched by HI~Arts in September 1997 as a year long pilot project to explore the potential benefits of linking the arts and childcare worlds. Partnerships were created between local musicians, visual artists and drama practitioners and childcare groups in four remote areas of the Highlands and Islands. Orkney was part of this Project with Playgroups and the Out of School Club taking part in Drama. A new Project was launched in the Spring of 2002 to be delivered over two years in the Western Isles, Orkney, Shetland, Caithness, Sutherland, Ross and Cromarty, Inverness, Nairn, Moray, Badenoch and Strathspey, Skye and Lochalsh, Lochaber and Argyll and Bute with Orkney participating from September 2003. Local Artists were approached and the initial response was encouraging. However, once the actual induction training days took place it became obvious that some of these initial contacts would be unable to proceed further with the Project due to the fact that most of them were already fully committed during the day. The Local Co-ordinators undertook to recruit Artists with suitable experience and who would be available during the day. Local Co-ordinators were appointed with the Orkney Pre-school & Play Association staff, Sue Greves and Theresa Salmon, taking on this role. Supervision was provided by Jelica Holmes, employed as the Co-ordinator for the Project in Inverness. We start this report with a copy of our first report of October 2003 as we feel this reflects on the final comments and evaluation


During the two training days we were able to identify needs that the staff in groups or artists may have. The days highlighted the aims of the Project and the Groups seemed enthusiastic and keen. It was apparent that we had very few artists and spent time over the two days trying to identify other artists to participate. The fact that two artists were from outwith Orkney meant that they would only be available for one or two short visits. We felt that had we had some involvement earlier in the year we would have had time to pursue local Artists which would have given us a more substantial number to work with. However, we were able to follow up the training days, contacting Groups and Artists to begin identifying availability and choice of workshop sessions. Throughout this time we had a lot of positive feedback, including interest from other Groups in Orkney who were keen to join in the Project; it seems unfortunate that we could only deliver to six groups, but we understand the restrictions of budget/funding criteria. With only three local Artists available the mammoth task began to match up Groups choices with Artist’s available time. The Artists involved also worked part-time in schools and are not available some days of the week. We established Artist’s availability and arranged meetings with Group staff. There seemed to be a lot of telephone calls in between and it seemed at the time with all the swaps and changes going on we would not be able to fit in twelve sessions for each Group! Margaret Rae (Music Box – Inverness) had arranged dates for mid-September so we made sure we made maximum use of her time in Orkney – she must have gone home exhausted! But what a welcome she had and the feedback from the Groups was excellent, so much so that we hope to have her back in November. Diane Bain, our most available Artist, and thankfully the most versatile, seems to have a lot of Group sessions, but again it was the only way we could fit in the ‘twelve’. You will see by the enclosed ‘Group Session’ list that we achieved what we thought impossible!


Orkney Childminders and the Papdale After School Club are sharing sessions as the Childminders only meet once a week, though they have been flexible with the days to fit in with Artist availability. Open Events are proving harder to arrange and we do not envisage all Groups participating in one, but we are continuing to work on this. I have attended some sessions and have others planned so that we cover our three participating visits to each Group. My initial thoughts and observations are that other staff in the Group settings see the workshops as purely a ‘hands on’ experience for the children and not as a learning tool for themselves. Once the evaluation forms started coming in it showed that the staff on the training days had at least realised this was for them as well! The Groups initial ‘worries’ included the young age of the children; the fact that they were all ‘new’ at the beginning of this term and that the Artists had not had experience with such a young age group. The Artists ‘worries’ included ‘the young age of the children’! and whether they could deliver a worthwhile workshop for staff and children. Again, by the comments on the evaluation forms the children have come up trumps – surprising both staff and Artists with their reactions – especially levels of concentration and ability to take in and respond to new ideas and activities. Jelica (from HI~Arts) has been available to us when we needed information or had queries. Being aware of our ‘few Artists’ situation she agreed to our having Maria Leask (Traditional Dance) down from Shetland for a couple of days in January – this will help fill some gaps. We hope the Open Forum will go ahead on Tuesday the 16th December but not as a full day event as staff at Groups cannot get the time off if they are not subsidised for it. So we envisage a late afternoon event i.e. 3.30pm – 7pm ish – again we did this because some staff live quite a way out in the rural parts of Orkney and would have difficulties travelling home and back again. We have still to firm up these arrangements. With the gap of the October holidays and the fact that we are running up to Christmas we have ahead of us a very tight schedule from the end of October through November – so fingers crossed for decent weather!! Sue Greves 30.10.03


Our Group Session list on page 4 has been revised since our initial report in October. We were able to welcome another Artist on board, Frances Pelly, who joined us at the beginning of November. We have had a very busy November and early December with sessions booked for Groups and Artists on nearly every day, sometimes two or three happening in different Groups at the same time. We were fortunate not to have too many cancellations; all the sessions on the attached schedule went ahead. As the Project progressed other Groups in Orkney asked if they could be included and other Artists expressed an interest in being involved; giving us a good indication that the sessions were being well received and positive comments being made. Seven Groups participated with the Childminders and Out of School Club sharing sessions. Below is a list showing numbers and ages of children participating in each Group.




Age Range

Orkney Childminding Group

7 - 10

7 – 12 approx

6 months – 4 years

Papdale Out of School Club


10 – 20 approx

5 years – 11 years

Firth Nursery Class


10 - 15

4 – 5 years

The Strynd Nursery



3 – 4 years

Peedie Breeks Nursery


10 – 15+

2 – 4 years



4 – 5 years

Papdale Nursery Class Four Nursery sessions per day


Glaitness Nursery Class



4 – 5 years

Orkney Childminding Group A Voluntary run Group who decided to have a Session with each of the Artists and changed their regular meeting times to fit in with the planned Sessions. Some of the Children are quite young but the participation of the Carers ensured active sessions with the Music Sessions led by Margaret Rae being particularly well received. A couple of Parents attended the Open Event held on the 5th December with Diane Bain; this included a Xmas Party theme. We produced a poster that we sent out to all Childminders in Orkney and a copy of is attached. Papdale Out of School Club Funded by the Orkney Childcare Partnership and overseen by a Voluntary Committee. The staff were grateful for all the sessions they received and would have taken more! Although they had up to 28 children attending the staff let the children decide whether to participate in the planned session, overall 10-15 decided to join in. Christina Sargent was asked to return for a second session of felt making as all the children were keen to participate. Staff had not been able to attend the HI~Arts training days as they were unable to arrange adequate cover and most also work in other positions during the day. As this is such a busy Group Staff took turns participating in each session but did not feel confident in providing these art sessions unless they are able to receive some repeat sessions from the Artists or further ‘Staff only’ training. Firth Nursery Class Firth Nursery Class is Statutory and is part of Firth Primary School situated in Finstown. Once again, the Nursery Staff were unable to attend the training days as the designated cost of replacement supply staff was not sufficient to cover the expense.


A visit was arranged to enable the Staff to meet each one of the Artists and be briefed on the Artsplay Project. They chose to ‘have a go’ at all the available Art sessions and throughout the Project gave positive and informative evaluations. The Strynd Nursery A Partner provider with Orkney Islands Council Education Department for Nursery Education for 3-4 year old children. Sessions had to be split as the two Staff members who attended the Training Days do not share any shifts at work. Two Parent helpers and College Students also attended the sessions with different Parents at each session Staff really made an effort to get involved and are keen to continue with their experiences. An Open Event was discussed but Staff felt most parents, who were able to attend during the day, had participated in a Session during their rota duties. Peedie Breeks Nursery Privately owned Day Nursery and Partner provider with Orkney Islands Council Education Department for Nursery Education for 3-4 year old children. For the Artsplay Sessions the children mixed together. Unfortunately, due to shift patterns, the Staff who attended the Training days were not always available at the right time, although we did try to address this problem with the Nursery Manager at the start of the Project. However, the Staff were enthusiastic and the children, being used to Group activities, were keen to join in. Considering the young age range, 2 ½ - 4 years, the Artists were surprised at the level of interaction and concentration exhibited by this group of children.

Papdale Nursery Class Papdale Nursery is Statutory and part of Papdale Primary School. They provide two morning and two afternoon sessions with 80 4-5 year old children attending.


The nursery is large and open planned so music, drama and dance took place in other areas of the school. The Art sessions were delivered to the Group on mass and this proved quite daunting for the Artists to deliver to 20 children at a time. However, the assistant nursery Staff had attended the Training days and Isobel Gillon, Deputy Head Teacher, who organises the rota and timetables for the nursery group was really enthusiastic and accommodating. The Nursery Teachers were at first a little unsure, feeling that the children were only in their first term and perhaps too young to benefit from some of the content of the Art sessions. Again, the children reacted with enthusiasm and positive reactions, with Staff agreeing that they had all benefited with new ideas and, perhaps, a more relaxed approach to just how open the children can be to new ideas and experiences. An Open Event was arranged with a notice going out to all Staff and Parents. We were hoping that with such a large number of parents we would get a good response. Unfortunately this proved not to be the case but eight members of Staff did attend the one hour Drama Workshop provided by Diane Bain. A copy of the feedback from the Open Event together with the Poster we prepared are attached. Glaitness Nursery Class Statutory provision part of Glaitness Primary School providing Nursery education for 18 children 4-5 years of age. This Group does not have access to a large hall and decided not to participate in any Traditional Dance Sessions. They are quite a structured Group who are keen to keep to the set routines within the Nursery session. However, both Staff attended the Training days and chose sessions they felt they would be able to build on themselves. The children in this Group are used to trying different activities and were happily focused during all the Art sessions.


The Artists involved: Christina Sargent Christina used her felt making skills to introduce working with wool; she also used music, stories and photographs to enhance the atmosphere providing a real quality ‘Art’ experience. The nature of the felt making process require, initially, adult supervision and from feedback from the Groups the Adults would need more practise before initiating a felt making session themselves. Christina was unsure, at first, about the age of the children involved, but soon discovered the enthusiasm and commitment the children can exhibit when involved with a new activity / experience. Smaller groups of children would have made the sessions less frantic, but that would mean the Artist being able to return to a group three or four times which was not feasible within the ArtsPlay remit / budget. Margaret Rae Margaret came up from Inverness with her ‘Music Box’ sessions which were thoroughly enjoyed by adults and children. The adults were confident in most groups to continue providing music and song sessions using home made ‘claves’ and songs learnt from Margaret. A second visit was arranged and the groups would have loved more visits! Maria Leask Maria came down from Shetland with her Traditional Dance session. The adults in the groups were wary at first about the value of the experience that they or the children would gain from these sessions. Maria’s enthusiasm and energy worked brilliantly and the children danced around with smiles on their faces – even if they did miss a cue on more than one occasion!


Diane Bain Diane provided Drama sessions that included storytelling; imaginative play, art work and music. She was by far our busiest Artist due to her availability and initially the only local Artist we had available for the Project. Diane is confident with large groups of children and is able to improvise as the session progresses, allowing the children at times to lead the session forward. Staff learnt that ‘storytime’ can be more interactive and that props are not always necessary to fuel the children’s imagination. It was great to see the less confident children in the group slowly joining in as the session progressed. Carol Dunbar Carol, a local Artist, makes paper and card, producing wonderful tactile surfaces. Unfortunately Carol has other work commitments and was only able to do three or four sessions. Children and Staff produced collage pictures with various papers. Frances Pelly Frances, a local Artist, came on board the Project a third of the way through. Frances produces willow weaving and clay work and it was the latter that she introduced to the children and staff. She had never worked with this age group and was apprehensive about how the sessions would go, she need not have worried - the children were enthralled. Frances used visual props such as model owls and fish so that the children could work towards producing small models for firing. She had huge amounts of clay and patience!, trying to give attention to 10+ children all at once is not an easy task. Staff learnt that clay is a much easier material to work with than they first imagined. They were also surprised at how many children were happy to stay at the clay table for the whole session.


Frances took ‘models’ home to fire and returned them to the groups for painting. Both Frances and staff were well aware that the greatest experience came within the actual session of hammering, mounding, squashing, squeezing, picking and poking the clay. The sessions were great socialising and imaginative boosting events enjoyed by all. The Forum! We were hoping that the Forum booked for December would go ahead as both Staff and Artists were keen to have feedback and discuss how the Project had gone. We also had photos, video footage and displays of work that people seemed keen to see. Unfortunately as time went on and the busy Christmas fortnight loomed near it was apparent that many staff would be unable to attend a forum during the day as they were unable to take time off work and supply workers would have to be paid! We changed the time of the Forum to late afternoon / early evening, but, again, we were thwarted by Carol rehearsals; panto practise, Christmas parties and stress levels of people being unable to fit in ‘one more thing’ before Christmas. So the Forum was cancelled. Jelica still came up to Orkney and was able to view the video, photos and a small display in our Board Room. We hoped a few other invited people would attend, but this was not to be. We rounded the day off with a Traditional Dance session with Maria at the Papdale Out of School Club. Staff and Artists would still like final feedback so we compiled a questionnaire which was circulated to all who participated, Staff, Artists, Head Teachers and Nursery Mangers. Summary Overall a successful ArtsPlay Project. What initially seemed impossible, with so few Artists, was achieved by sheer determination on our part and flexibility and accommodation on behalf of the Groups and Artists.


Staff would have preferred a different term to receive their ArtsPlay sessions, as explained in our first report. Some would also have preferred sessions to be more spread out over a longer period Staff in the groups did not always ‘participate’ and took on the role of ‘observers’ in some cases leaving the Artist to not only ‘deliver’ the workshop but to almost supervise the children. A more informative session on the Training days as to the roles and responsibilities of staff during ‘workshop’ sessions, to include an explanation of which Artists have or have not had experience within the Group types. This would alleviate pressure from the Artists to suddenly become competent childcare workers! Positive and valid comments came via the Staff Evaluation sheets that on the whole gave favourable and valued comments towards the success this Project has been. Artists were scarce at the beginning which made it difficult to deliver many sessions early in the term. Other local Artists have approached us since having heard about the Project, they are keen to join in! In hindsight perhaps better publicity and identification of available artists much earlier on would have been helpful. Also a meeting with Artists prior to the Training Days would have given them a chance to focus on what the ArtsPlay project was really about and: 1. whether they felt their skills were appropriate for Staff to deliver themselves 2. age and developmental levels of the children and size of the groups 3. consider their own confidence and skills in actually delivering workshops 4. consider skills and confidence of staff involved, including roles and responsibilities The small number of groups involved obviously passed on good comments to other groups in Orkney resulting in requests to be included from these groups.


As usually happens with other Projects and services in Orkney most of the Groups apart from Firth that received the ArtsPlay sessions were within Kirkwall with isolated and Island Groups missing out on valuable Art experiences. Future There are 23 Statutory and Partner Provider nursery groups for 3-5 year old children and 21 Parent and Toddler Groups for 0-5 year old children with their Parents and Carers in Orkney. Orkney Pre-school & Play Association, within their aims and objectives, try to be fully inclusive of Groups in all areas of Orkney. With this in mind funding for a Project that delivery ‘Art’ workshops to all Groups is being pursued. OPPA believes all Adults and Children would certainly benefit in many ways by such a Project and would hope to commence by September 2004. In the meantime we hope the Groups involved will continue to build on some of the experience gained during this ArtsPlay Project.

Skye and Lochalsh – September to December 2003 Co-ordinator: Rosie Somerville The Skye & Lochalsh background. The 2003 project ran from 12 September to 19 December, 14 weeks. It included 2 training days for everyone involved to introduce the project and cover legislation and issues affecting the sector. The aim of ArtsPlay was to employ artists to deliver training to selected individuals, from playgroups and nurseries in Skye & Lochalsh. The trainees should acquire the confidence, skills and techniques, which would enable them to include similar sessions with the children in their care. ArtsPlay is the follow up to the pilot Stimulating Creativity. In this area that was the first project to address the childcare sectors creative needs (1997). In the words of one nursery’s manager at the recent ArtsPlay Forum in An Tuireann Portree; “After that it just all fell flat”! Sound Company, a private small business has been filling a gap to some extent. Their three-musician/workshop leaders seek funding to run small-scale projects, which


provide sessions in musical creativity for the pre school sector. Two of this group were involved in Stimulating Creativity and also ran the music sessions for ArtsPlay. THE OPEN FORUM SAID: ‘ArtsPlay has been hugely successful ‘ The end of project forum voted unanimously to make sure a new project comes into being ASAP. The need to reinforce the skills required to aid the creative development of children on an on going basis could not be emphasised enough. The forum agreed that this could only be done by maintaining a series of projects looking at delivering workshops and training through different strands, e.g. ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ

Disability (Inclusion through arts activities) Use of information technology e.g. visual imagery Literacy & Numeracy Music tuition for child care workers (a selection of skills were identified) Combined arts projects Training for Artists

An outstanding success has been with the SCMA (Scottish Childminders Assoc). This group has a vibrant number of young women involved who have missed earlier projects (still at school or college or having their own children). These childminders have been a disparate group until now. They have been brought together through ArtsPlay, as they needed to meet as a group for their workshop sessions. This was mainly in each other’s homes and in hired halls. They will continue to meet once a month as a result. They have suffered from isolation. They work on their own and often in the further flung townships. They generally need childminders themselves to participate in training! Their co-ordinator stressed this and her support is fully behind helping to find a way to keep ArtsPlay or a similar project going. She added the Scam’s support through paying a share of the added venue costs. One childminder’s training diary said, “This is exactly what I have been waiting for”. The irony is that this individual could not attend more than 2 sessions. Her commitments did not allow for it within ArtsPlay’s short time scale. This reinforces for me as co-ordinator the need now, for a long-term project of 2-3 years to give a fair chance for individuals and groups to benefit. Benefits of the project extended beyond the training and the immediate participants, children and adults. Socially the groups had the opportunity to meet


folk from all over the district. Plockton and Auchtertyre on the mainland. Staffin in north Skye and Struan and Glendale in the far west. THE PROJECT See append 1. for breakdown Artists and Art Forms The local co-ordinator worked with 6 artists to plan and deliver 78 training sessions to childcare workers in; ƒ

Drama, movement – 2 artists initially. One having to withdraw early on. Demand was so high that two artists would have been excellent. Storytelling was also covered. The artist also worked with one of the musicians on a puppet show, which was a big success.


Visual Arts – This covered at least 5 areas of skills, including appreciation of pictures of different kinds. Making models with clay was a craft included in this field. This artist also worked with music during one of her sessions. This work stimulated direct knock on results with trainees (see creative outcomes).


Music – 2 Artists employed. Very high demand. Storytelling through music was an important element. They worked jointly in some sessions and this made a big difference to managing time with a group and fitting in briefing and debriefing time with childcare workers. These artists were already working with some of the groups (see pg 1. Sound Company) and therefore had already made considerable headway. They also collaborated on some sessions (see above).


Bookbinding – This maker was also super skilled at all levels of her craft. Trainees who had her sessions were amazed by the different skills they learnt and at how possible it was for very small children to learn them. The artist showed that there is always a way of tailoring the skill and use of tools so that small children can take part.


Traditional dance. - No artist was readily available nor was there a demand (at this time). Many felt the pre school youngsters would benefit more from ‘movement’. This may account for the high take up on drama.


The Groups and the Child Care Workers– (see appendix 1.) The groups were initially identified by ARTSPLAY. 6 groups with named trainees were invited to the initial training days. ƒ

Out of these named groups came several satellite groups that trainees also worked with. This came about as trainees were often involved in more than one group and opted to share or allocate some of their own sessions to other relevant childcare workers.


The SCMA childminders brought an additional 6 trainees into the project.

14 groups were involved in total. Between them they were offered a total of 78 training sessions. 75 sessions were taken up. 17 named trainees took part. At least 5 other childcare workers have benefited by being at the sessions. 1 trainee dropped out. (She had hoped for more craft orientated workshops and lacked the confidence to participate in such as drama) 244 children from the following groups took part. ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ

Ruinneagan beaga / pre school - 18 months – 3 years Portree Nursery/ 2 groups, day care - very small children (as above) & pre school Portree Croileagan, Dunvegan Croileagan, Scholari Portree Dunvegan Early Years Staffin Croileagan Struan pre school+ Struan Primary 1 some times joining in Sradagan & Brownies SCMA Conniston Nursery/Lochalsh

At least 53 additional adults benefited excluding parents that took part in workshops held on open days.


ARTSPLAY delivered 75 workshops out of a potential 78 Who benefited ƒ

Pre school child cares workers - other staff and parents who were also there during workshops.


Pre school children – 18 months to 5 years in most cases, although Struan Sradagan were primary school age (5-10 years) and also Brownies who got in on the act. The Primary 1class at Struan.


6 artists & a local co-ordinator employed over 3 months


The artists additionally benefited by gaining experience as trainers


Local venues were hired, general economic spin offs e.g. local purchases (stationary & materials) and petrol.


Communities in general - Plockton & Auchtertyre in Lochalsh, Kyleakin south Skye, Portree, Staffin in north Skye, Struan and Dunvegan in the West


297 people were directly involved in the project, just over 2.37 % of a local population of 12500. 244 children & 53 adults. (see appendix 1.) Evaluation & Recommendations

The Open Forum The open forum reviewed the project, discussed and agreed on a way forward. (See pg) 16 people attended the forum out of 35 invited. They all agreed to represent ARTSPLAY locally and work towards developing a long-term project. 11 people remaining at the end agreed in the first instance to wait to see if HI~Arts can find a way to continue to employ a Co-ordinator to fundraise and develop a new project. The group now has the added support of the local Scottish Childminders Association and the CCFRP (Child Care Family First Partnership) who are keen to help support and develop a longer-term project.


The Groups and The Trainees The 14 weeks allocated to the project was tight and did not allow for existing busy schedules or a lead in planning period. Most of the training was delivered at the end of October, throughout November and early December. 78 sessions in 8 weeks. In this area scheduling was hampered by the time of year in which it fell. The ‘Tattie holidays’ in October and Christmas coming meant the groups involved were under considerable pressure to fit thirteen sessions and a Forum into their schedules. It does show the strength and value of the project that every one made such a huge effort to fit it in and make it work. Time for planning and scheduling was the biggest issue for the groups along with more time for briefing and debriefing. The trainees would also benefit from more training that covers group control, use of space, how to take children’s ideas further. Learn to consult with the children more. Confidence in the introduction of tools. Also the need to learn basic instrumental skills; e.g. Keyboard. The trainees all stressed the need for continued training. Skills and confidence too easily/quickly lost. They noted that the children who had taken part in a previous workshop benefited more quickly at future sessions. As adults they reckoned they needed more help than the children. Coniston Nursery said their ArtsPlay wasn’t finished, as they will have a display at the local SPAR shop to share their work further. This was a private nursery that obviously sees the benefits of showing to parents and prospective users. Nurseries linked to the education authority asked for training to link in with their in service days. At present there is no provision for any training of any kind. Trainees said they wanted more briefing and debriefing time with the artists. At first the groups had to be constantly reminded that they were being trained. They thought it would be helpful to have some sessions out with the childcare situation.


The Artist Trainers Artists considered the project challenging. Artists had to find ways to work with children ranging from as young as eighteen months. Due to the nature of the sector some groups would not know how many children would be there on the day. The artists had to ‘be prepared’ for anything. One found herself at a Sradagan (5-10 years) and 50 children turned up. Flexibility was considered the answer. All the artists proved to be very experienced and professional in approach. Their knowledge and experience was acknowledged as an assurance to the less confident trainees. Although good to deliver sessions in the child care situation it would be good to have more adult training sessions, even individual ones if appropriate to develop such as a CC workers basic keyboard skills. Artists would also benefit from some training in planning and delivery of sessions. Some who do not work regularly in the sector would also gain from some child developmental workshops. The artists showed groups how to use spaces and create wet space, music area etc. and how this would benefit the activities and help control the use of space and involvement in activities and gain focus. Some felt the groups needed more of this reinforced. Artists employed - Numbers were about right in that everyone got a fair amount of work, which made the project economically important particularly at this time of year. In General Training blocks of 9 sessions would suit groups best. If HI~Arts can continue to support the project one aim should be to source more artists, including Gaelic speaking individuals. A future project should aim to have a pool of circa 10 artists/trainers. An attempt at a geographical spread should help make a longer-term project more easily sustainable. Greater local economic benefit from paying more artists for their work rather than high travel costs. Lack of demand on an art form seemed to be because the childcare workers were less confident in that field or not clear about what was involved. Terms such as visual arts or bookbinding were felt to be unclear and did not help encourage take


up. More lead in time for planning would sort that. It was felt Craft should be included. Benefits of repetition An on going programme of (3 year) training must be developed for this sector to keep up their skills and levels of creative input. This is recommended by the groups, the Scottish Childminders Association and the Child Care Families First Partnership. Continued use of learnt skills All the individuals said they would be continuing the activities with their groups. Combined art forms and collaborative working Artists and trainees agreed that future projects should develop the artists working in collaboration. This was tried by visual arts & music and by music and drama. It was considered hugely successful. An idea would be to involve the trainee further by joint collaborative projects, maintaining/developing a theme with them, which the trainee worked on with their group. The artists would return to these project giving ongoing support and training. Permanent resources The forum decided that sharing resources would be good for most of them. It was also acknowledged that some groups did want to acquire specific items for themselves. It was thought that a good way of sharing in the future would be to develop ARTSPLAY chests, which could be rotated, e.g. the drama chest could have a selection of cloths, hats. A silk parachute was another item that could ‘go round’. Creative outcomes I consider that this type of project has an important role to play in audience development. Through developed appreciation of the arts these children will be the audiences of the future. This project can do much for audience development and artistic appreciation. The cross section of art forms covered a vast number of skills and techniques which when shown to children in a clear, repetitive and fun manner were quickly learnt. Adults took longer to learn how to do things therefore reinforcing the need for continuity as the skills are so quickly lost. After one visual arts session, which groups trainees took it one step further, and with out realising it they achieved their own IT project. The artist had worked with them on collages of autumn leaves. Then as an after thought she suggested they draw round their feet, cut out the prints and stuck them on the collages. The


trainee back in the playgroup situation suggested the children take photos of the soles of their shoes with a digital camera. She then displayed the collages on the hall walls (on their open day) ……with the various digital printouts of the soles of the shoes, leading from the entrance door to the individual’s pictures. She added a sign stuck to the floor saying 'whose shoes are these?' The Way Forward Based on the commitment and views expressed at the forum it was agreed to; 1. Continue to liaise with HI~Arts to gain continued support. 2. If successful, during that time develop a plan for a 3 year project built round the following elements; ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ ƒ

Disability, inclusion through arts activities Use of information technology e.g. visual imagery Literacy & Numeracy Music tuition for child care workers (a selection of skills were identified) Combined arts projects Training for Artists

3. Seek project funds Artists and trainees at the introductory sessions Appendix 1. WORKSHOP PROGRAMME - DETAILS Groups taking part and the number of sessions per art form as allocated Groups



Visual Art

Book binding

No of Children

No No of trainees Other adults/ estimated

Ruinneagan beaga Dunvegan pre school


2 + 2 shared with Struan






All children accompanied by an adult

Portree Nursery Day care & Pre school


Portree Croileagan + Sgolari Portree


Dunvegan Croileagan

4 ran 1 cancell ed 2


1ran 1 cancelle d 1cancell ed

15 19


1 other leader c2 other staff


10 ?


2 other leader






1 other leader






1 other play leader

Dunvegan Early Years


Staffin Croileagan

2 ran 5 2 cancell ed 1 2

2 ran 2 cancell ed 1

2 ran 1 cancelle d 0



All children accompanied by an adult



Sradagan Dunvegan






Brownies Dunvegan

1 0 1 cancell ed 5 ran 4 1 cancell ed 4 5




Same trainee as above 1

1 other play leader 1 teacher? At least 2 others





32 + 6 others linked to drop out 50

7 1 dropped out 2

22 ran

17 ran

6 ran

244 children

17 trainees

> 5 yrs Struan pre school+ Struan Primary 1

SCMA Scattered through district Conniston Nursery Lochalsh

30 ran

14 groups


At least 2 others

1 other SCMA Co

2 /3 other staff + circa 3 parents 53 others

Argyll and Islands - September to December 2003 Co-ordinator: Frances Sinclair INTRODUCTION Five local groups, twelve childcare workers, eight artists, nearly two hundred children, seven marionette sessions, six dance workshops, a large piano collage, an outdoor mural, a fireworks banner, stories, masks, felt making, a brand new play, five hundred Gaelic Christmas cards, and one tired but happy local co-ordinator. That was HI~Arts Argyll ArtsPlay, September to December 2003. It all began with two productive training days in September organised by Jelica Holmes, HI~Arts Regional Co-ordinator. The eight artists and eight childcare workers chosen to be involved in the project attended, along with the recently appointed local co-ordinator. Taster sessions put on by Black Box, Ballet West, Jenny England, Morag Duff and Shelagh Galbraith were inspiring. During coffee breaks artists and childcare workers got together and discussed how to achieve their longstanding ambitions. These included creating an outdoor mural; hosting a joint samba and mask making workshop on a jungle theme; and bringing a world famous puppet theatre into the nursery! The workshops which subsequently took place within the groups went extremely well, thanks to a combination of the artists’ skills and the childcare workers’ professionalism. Three out of the five groups held open sessions, with only one of these taking place in the evening. This was a workshop for trainers by Morag Duff in how to make masks and costumes for the play Sradagan an Obain would perform at the Area Forum. Soroba Young Families included parents at nearly every session, so a formal open evening was not considered necessary. The Gaelic Pre School invited parents to a morning open session to view a display of the work the children had done over the course of the project. With only six children, this was the most sensible option. Stepping Stones asked parents and carers to join in a session to be spent creating a tree for an outdoor mural, but sadly, none expressed an interest. It was also disappointing that School’s Out did not believe it to be worthwhile holding an Open Evening. They said that parents did not tend to join in activities within the group. The staff at School’s Out did not in fact fully grasp the ethos of the HI~Arts project until it was too far underway to be of lasting benefit to them. In spite of these setbacks, however, if the reasons for the overall success of HI~Arts Argyll ArtsPlay had to be summed up in just one word it would be: collaboration. This was nowhere more evident than at the Area Forum which took place at the Corran Halls at the end of November. Vibrant displays of children’s


work alongside photographs of them busily engaged in dance, music and art workshops reflected the creative partnerships between artists and childcare workers which had developed since the two training days. The Gaelic play, performed by the children of Sradagan an Obain, with input from four of the eight artists involved in the project, was outstanding. In the words of one of the childcare workers, “who’d have thought what we’re capable of achieving, with a bit of encouragement?” THE ARTISTS Fiona Blakely Morag Duff Jenny England Shelagh Galbraith Mike Rowell Don & Ivy Smart Artair Donald THE GROUPS Soroba Young Families, Oban Soroba Young Families, a childcare centre based in an area of high density housing, offers a variety of services to families with young children. Parents can access full delivery of the pre school curriculum for their children, or simply join in an informal parent and toddler group. The centre manager approached the HI~Arts project with a blend of enthusiasm, professionalism and commitment. This approach ensured that the staff of Soroba Young Families and local parents were able to take full advantage of the opportunities the project presented. The training days were attended by the centre manager and one member of staff. A planning meeting was then held back at the centre on how best to incorporate the skills of the artists into the group’s own aims and objectives. It was decided that the best way to do this was to follow the themes of autumn and hibernation at each workshop, where possible. The involvement of parents whose children attend the group was sought at every stage of the project, fulfilling the aims of training the trainers several times over. Parents would happily join in at sessions and then go away with some new ideas to try out with their own children at home. Such is the supportive and welcoming atmosphere at Soroba Young Families, that a creative collaboration between childcare workers, artists and parents was quickly and easily established at each workshop. Feedback from the artists indicated that they had achieved high levels


of satisfaction working with this group. In turn, the trainers and parents described the experience as “amazing” and “an opportunity to do things we have never done before, like samba drumming”. The centre manager produced an informative and creative display for the Area Forum, which showed photographs of the artists at work with the children and parents. The display followed a clear narrative, showing photographs of the childcare workers putting into action the techniques and skills the artists had shown them. Soroba Young Families used the highest number of artists of all the groups, preferring to take a ‘taster’ approach rather than concentrate on one major project. They produced monkey and crocodile masks with Morag Duff and Shelagh Galbraith, Christmas trees and collages with Fiona Blakely, and enjoyed dance and music workshops with Ballet West and Jenny England. Black Box Puppets also came in to show them how to make puppets. Conclusion: the approach taken by this group towards HI~Arts Argyll ArtsPlay was exemplary. The staff, led by the centre manager, fully grasped the emphasis of the project being on training the trainers from the outset. They have already demonstrated their ability to sustain the long term benefits of the project by building on the skills they have picked up from the artists. Stepping Stones, Oban Stepping Stones is a pre school group based in Oban’s local youth and community centre and run by a voluntary management committee. The building is in need of refurbishment and is in a rundown area of town. Nevertheless, the nursery’s excellent resources, welcoming atmosphere and dedicated staff more than compensate for its insalubrious surroundings. The training days were attended by the two childcare workers who would be closely involved. They were determined to get the utmost out of the project the better to enhance the creativity of the children. Creating an outdoor mural had been a longstanding ambition of the group. When they discovered that two of the artists, Morag Duff and Shelagh Galbraith, had worked on similar projects, they decided to use the bulk of their allotted workshops on making their dream of having an outdoor mural become a reality. Morag and Shelagh were accordingly block booked for four double sessions. The first session took the form of a consultation. Then the materials were purchased and the artists set about training the childcare workers in how to cut and treat wood for outdoor use. The children had meanwhile been consulted on the


content of the mural. Working together, the group had come up with the idea of four trees depicting the four seasons, the first one autumnal, to reflect the theme of hibernation which the group had been exploring. Morag and Shelagh worked for the remaining sessions at the back of the playroom, with the children being invited down in twos and threes to sponge autumn leaves on to the tree. Some children designed hedgehogs and foxes, which the artists expertly transferred on to the base of the tree, remaining faithful to the original design. The resulting tree was featured in the Oban Times twice, and did everyone credit.

For the remaining four sessions, Stepping Stones took a ‘taster’ approach, inviting Jenny England, Ballet West and Scot the storyteller in to lead sessions with the children. The music and dance workshops went very well indeed and there was excellent feedback all round. However, it was felt that Scot’s storytelling was not age appropriate for pre school children, and this workshop was not a success. Scot confirmed this in his own evaluation, and both sides agreed to put it down to experience. Conclusion: Stepping Stones showed real commitment to the HI~ARTS project, and achieved a longstanding ambition as a result. Morag and Shelagh trained the childcare workers in completely new skills, raising morale and boosting confidence within the group. Over the course of the year, three more trees will be created by Stepping Stones, enhancing the children’s outdoor play area.

School’s Out, Oban School’s Out is Oban’s only after school care service, based in a church centre and run by a voluntary management committee. It operates five days a week and also runs during the school holidays. The introduction of the HI~Arts project coincided with the loss of School’s Out’s co-ordinator, as well as two members of its staff. It soon became difficult for the group to sustain the aims and objectives of the HI~Arts project under these circumstances. The nature of the service School’s Out provides means that parents use it because they are either very busy or in need of respite. Help from the parents and management committee was therefore not forthcoming. Nevertheless two members of staff attended the training days and took an interest in the range of activities on offer. They had plans to incorporate all of the artists into their theme of Outer Space. However, shortly afterwards the group


entered into a period of crisis management and the attainment of HI~Arts’ aim of training the trainers was all but lost for School’s Out. In the absence of a leader, the childcare workers were very slow to book artists and had to be encouraged to take the plunge. Once all the bookings were in place, the childcare workers then showed a reluctance to get involved with the artists during the sessions, and had to be reminded that the project was about training the trainers. An Open Evening was ruled out because, according to staff, parents are simply not willing or able to attend activities put on by the group. Nevertheless, the group refused to take up an offer to organise an alternative event, (e.g. a display of photographs in the local library), unless it involved no input from them. None of the staff took part in the Area Forum, and there would have been no display but for the efforts of the local co-ordinator to collect the collages the children had made, and put them on display herself. This led to apologies on the part of the staff however, and a full explanation followed as to why the group had not been able to take the project on board. One of the childcare workers went so far as to describe the project as a “godsend” because they were so short staffed that they would have been unable to do any extra activities with the children but for the presence of the artists. Nevertheless, the childcare workers did show a late surge of interest in the project towards its end, particularly when their new group co-ordinator was appointed. By the conclusion of the project, School’s Out had in fact experienced a wide range of activities on offer, with Ballet West and Black Box doing dance and puppet workshops, and Morag Duff hosting a highly enjoyable felt making session. Visual Artist Fiona Blakely also produced some wonderful collages under difficult circumstances. Conclusion: School’s Out entered into the spirit of the HI~ARTS project very belatedly. They appeared to become aware at a late stage that their attitude was remiss and they took steps to remedy this. Their new co-ordinator has made assurances that were they to be involved again; it would be very different next time. While the training that the trainers at School’s Out received was sadly minimal, the children who attend the group thoroughly enjoyed working with the artists. Sradagan an Obain Sradagan an Obain was established in August 2001 to give the children who attend the local Gaelic Medium Unit an opportunity to use their Gaelic in a relaxed, informal setting. They meet once a week, on Tuesday evenings. In order to get the


most out of the HI~Arts project, however, the decision was taken by the committee to meet twice a week for the duration of the project. Several barriers had first to be overcome in order to maximise the opportunities which HI~Arts offered this group. The leader was feeling undervalued and overworked and did not attend the training days. The absence of a fluent Gaelic speaker among the artists did not help matters, (Sradagan an Obain is a Gaelic medium group). Then the original drama specialist dropped out of the project at its very early stages and Gaelic speaking actor Artair Donald was brought in to replace her. Artair had worked with Sradagan an Obain before and he was able to build on the relationship of trust he had already established with the leader and the children. Over a series of workshops he built up a supportive and creative partnership with the group’s leader. In the leader’s evaluations, a progression from initial resistance to the project through a build up of confidence to an eventual appreciation of its long term benefits can be traced. Her morale and skills have received a tremendous boost as a result. Artair was able to provide a multitude of ideas for games and activities suitable for Sradagan sessions. An excellent outcome of one particular session was the production of a Gaelic Christmas card, designed by the children. 500 copies were later produced and distributed with the help of funding from Comunn na Gaidhlig. Meanwhile, Sradagan an Obain was also meeting on Friday evenings, to rehearse a play which had been adapted from a traditional Gaelic folktale by one of the parents. With great excitement, the committee booked Ballet West to help with the choreography; Jenny England to show them how to create sound effects; Morag Duff to hold a mask and costume making session and Artair Donald to provide additional directing. The production, “An Lamh a Bheir S’ I Gheibh” (the hand that gives, receives) reflected this creative collaboration between children, parents, the Sradagan leader and the professional artists. They played to a full house at the Area Forum and received long and loud applause. Conclusion: Sradagan an Obain entered into an exciting creative collaboration with the artists provided by HI~ARTS Argyll ArtsPlay to produce and perform a Gaelic play, which was hugely enjoyed by all who took part. As an added bonus, the leader has received first class training on her own terms, and she will carry this forward in future Sradagan an Obain sessions.


The Gaelic Pre-School The Gaelic Pre School is a Local Authority run Gaelic Medium nursery with six children. Its two childcare workers approached the HI~Arts project with a little trepidation. Only one of them attended the training days and felt a little overwhelmed by the range of activities on offer. The nursery went through its Care Commission inspection during the project, and concern was expressed that the need to fit twelve workshops into a sixteen week term would have an adverse effect on the delivery of the curriculum. From the outset, then, this group required support in the form of reassurances that the artists’ workshops would fit in to their own aims and objectives. In the event, the childcare workers entered into the spirit of the project with gusto, and produced a stunning display for the Area Forum, showcasing the wonderful art, drama and music workshops which had gone on. As the only fluent Gaelic speaking artist, Artair Donald was the obvious choice to work with this group, and he was able to bring his experience working in Gaelic childcare groups to bear in the four workshops he did with them. The staff were also keen to work with Fiona Blakely, the visual artist, and were delighted with the huge piano collage she made with the children. In the sessions with Black Box Puppets the children produced puppets based on the Billy Goat Gruff story. With Don and Ivy’s expert guidance the children put on a fantastic show with words and actions. The music sessions with Jenny England went very well, and Jenny commented on the children’s ability to pick up rhythm very quickly. Music was not a skill the childcare workers at the Gaelic Pre School had previously felt confident about teaching. However, with the opportunity to purchase some percussion instruments as part of the permanent resource grant provided by HI~Arts, they have decided to incorporate music into the curriculum in the future. The lack of Gaelic speaking artists available to this Gaelic medium group meant that during the project the childcare workers used considerably less Gaelic with the children than they would normally use. However, they acknowledge that the decision to book workshops with non- Gaelic speakers was theirs. While very happy with the project, they would add the proviso that if it were to continue, more Gaelic speaking artists should be made available to groups like theirs. Conclusion: The Gaelic Pre School group was under some pressure and the two childcare workers at first resisted what they perceived to be extra workload. However, after a slow start, they became enthused by what they saw it was possible to achieve with the help of professional artists. Feedback from the artists who worked with them indicated that visiting this group was always a great pleasure.


THE AREA FORUM The day of the Area Forum dawned, Saturday 29th November, and it was wet, wet, wet. The Christmas lights were due to be switched on in Oban that day, and I couldn’t help wondering : would people want to get two soakings by coming to us in the morning and then going back out to the street party in the evening ? In the event, it was the Christmas light switch on which was cancelled. And nearly one hundred and fifty people in total turned up to watch our play and browse through our photographs and displays of work. In spite of first night nerves (the local co-ordinator’s!) and a disastrous dress rehearsal, the play went extremely well, and the children were called back for a curtain call. Everyone who had been involved in the HI~ARTS project could see that the success of the play had been a result of a very successful collaboration between the children, the trainers, and the professional music, dance, drama and art specialists who had attended rehearsals. To the rest of the audience, however, it was just a very slick production, which happened to have excellent choreography (help from Ballet West), amazing sound effects (ditto Jenny England) and lifelike masks (thanks, Morag Duff). All of the childcare groups had worked hard to produce stunning visual displays, and these could be seen in the Café Bar area. Stepping Stones had even managed to bring their tree along, where it was proudly displayed. Community Education, Oban, supplied all of the display boards free and it had been hard work erecting them and decorating them in time. Morag Duff and Shelagh Galbraith turned up bright and early to hold a felt making workshop. Nearly two dozen children came to join them. Most of the felt makers were to appear in the Gaelic play later, and they delighted the artists by counting and conversing in Gaelic, just as it would have been done in the old days! CONCLUSION Feedback from all of the participants in HI~Arts Argyll ArtsPlay has been excellent across the board. Everyone involved has indicated that they would like the project to continue in some form next year. It was felt, at times however, that there was an element of an embarrassment of riches about the project. September to December is a very busy time of year for childcare groups to fit twelve workshops around their own curriculum. Were the project to be carried forward next year, all of the groups have asked that the workshops be spaced out more. This would enable them the better to absorb the new skills the artists show them. Feedback from the artists involved in the project indicates that all of them have loved passing on their skills and talents to trainers


and children. They are thrilled with the warm and welcoming reception they received at most of the childcare groups. One excellent suggestion by a childcare worker is that the children be issued with stickers after each workshop. If each sticker bore the legend “Today I …….with HI~Arts”, the staff could fill in the blanks, (e.g. “today I did samba drumming with HI~Arts”). This would stimulate conversation between parents/carers and children, particularly after drama, dance and music workshops, where the children have nothing discernible to show for their enjoyment. It would also act as a reward for the children who have taken part. HI~Arts Argyll ArtsPlay has been very fortunate in its support by the local community, as the large turnout at the Area Forum testifies. Coverage in the Oban Times has been excellent. The result is that many local people know exactly what HI~ARTS is all about, a good augury for the future.


Acknowledgements: We would like to thank: All the children from around the Highlands and Islands who worked and played very hard during the length of this project All the childcare groups who took part, and the childcare workers for their enthusiasm The artists for their dedication and commitment and for taking the initiative to move the project forward into Phase 2


ArtsPlay Final Report 2004  

A report from the ArtsPlay Stimulating Creativity in Childcare project.

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