Tell us a bit about your team…
Creative Learning sits at the heart of Warwick Arts Centre. Our team creates hands-on learning opportunities with audiences, artists and academics, which provide schools and the wider community with new and exciting avenues of engagement with our programme of theatre, dance, music, film and visual arts.
From exciting one-off taster events to our ambitious programme of life-changing projects, our work nurtures curiosity and enriches learning, which we believe is a lifelong entitlement for all. We are a small department of three; Kate Sayer, Head of Creative Learning, Carly Mee, Creative Learning Officer and Lynsey Cullen, Creative Learning Coordinator, and we each bring a distinctive set of skills and experience in education projects, working with schools, teaching methodology, theatre, visual arts and creativity that when combined, forms a dynamic, passionate and aspiring team.
Tell us about your award-winning work...
In 2016, University of Warwick’s Dr Rachel King began a project in partnership with the Belgrade Theatre’s Canley Youth Theatre that brought together youth theatre participants and Warwick postgraduate students to create an oral history performance based on their 'past', 'present' and 'future' stories. The group performed their incredibly successful piece at Warwick in June 2016.
However, in spite of the success of the project, as Rachel’s research ended, the Canley Youth Theatre came under threat of closure. Hearing about this threat, and having witnessed the enormous benefits the group offered the young people, Warwick Arts Centre’s (WAC) Creative Learning Team stepped in to form a partnership with The Belgrade Theatre that would see both organisations work together to keep the Canley Youth Theatre going.
Aged from 8+, the Youth Theatre meets on the doorstep of the University of Warwick at the Xcel Leisure Centre in Canley on a weekly basis to work towards termly sharings for friends and family and a final performance in the summer term alongside other Belgrade and WAC Youth Theatre groups. This provides the young people the chance to perform on two of the most impressive stages in the local area, offering their families and friends an often first time theatre experience. Additionally, participants are able to watch a performance per term at Warwick Arts Centre, developing their cultural capital and extending their relationship with the campus.
With increasing local authority budget cuts, it’s more important than ever that universities and arts organisations reach out and connect directly to the heart of their local communities. By supporting Canley’s Youth Theatre, our team have ensured a creative future for the young people involved, and strengthened the links between university and community that Dr Rachel King began in 2016.
How does it feel to have won the Community Contribution award?
It feels wonderful to win the Community Contribution award. To be acknowledged for such a meaningful project really shows us that we’re going in the right direction. Our work in the community is hugely important to us – we want to be able to build bridges that allow access to the arts for all and by working together in partnership with academics and other arts organisations it becomes a possibility rather than a hurdle. It’s great to know that the university supports our efforts and winning the award highlights to us just how important it is to share our successes with colleagues in our departments and throughout the wider university.
Why do you think people should get involved with nominating for the University Awards?
It really does help to boost the ambition of the team when the nominations are announced - so if you see a colleague or team striving to do the best they can with the resources available, it’s going to really make their day to be nominated and know that someone has noticed their contribution to the university.
What was a personal highlight for you from the Awards evening on 18 May?
It was lovely to see so many colleagues rooting for each other. The spirit in the room was infectious and the laughter, cheers and applause around the crowd really showed how a business with so many different departments can unite when given a chance to celebrate achievement.
The University Awards are a great way for the University to improve and learn from staff initiatives over the year. If you could change one thing at the University, what would it be?
Learning from our partnership on the Canley Youth Theatre project, we’d say that it would be a step in the right direction to join up some of our thinking and start making new partnerships across the University and arts centre to create opportunities that benefit staff, students and community alike.
What would you like to say to the person – or people – who nominated you?
Thank you! We appreciate every kind word and we will work hard to ensure that our work continues to inspire our colleagues in the future.
Enjoyed reading about the Creative Learning team's experience? Find out what other award winners had to say
By supporting Canley’s Youth Theatre, our team have ensured a creative future for the young people involved, and strengthened the links between university and community that Dr Rachel King began in 2016."