2018 was a huge year for us here at CAE. We’ve been shouting much louder about the significant and transformative impact the arts can have on rural communities, particularly in terms of health, wellbeing and aspirations, and have been committed as always to demonstrating this throughout all of our work. This culminated in us being crowned ‘Rural Social Enterprise, Charity or Community Project of the Year’ at the East of England Regional Finals of the Rural Business Awards, and we’ll be heading to the National Finals in February 2019 to compete against the winners of the other regions. The team have so many other highlights of 2018, and we’ve picked out a few of them to share below!
Our Day Out Celebration Events: One of our favourite parts of running the Spirit of 2012-funded Our Day Out project (participatory music and dance workshops for isolated older people in Norfolk), is when we bring all the groups together to meet up, sing and dance as one. In 2018 we had two fantastic events with our 6 groups: The Big Sing in March with musicians Mary and Kim, and the Sharing Day at Cley Wildlife Centre in October with Glass House Dance and Les Chappell. It’s such a joy to see our participants share in creativity and see just how much they get out of attending the sessions.
Films With Friends: We teamed up with South Norfolk Council and East of England Co-op to deliver the Films With Friends Project – an initiative aimed at making village cinema more accessible for people living with dementia and to raise awareness about the condition. Seven of our South Norfolk cinema groups took part – they received Dementia Friends sessions at their screenings; a ‘how to’ guide and training from academic specialists; and bespoke marketing to increase awareness amongst the wider community that these groups are taking steps to become more dementia friendly.
Take On Me: This was definitely one of the most exciting projects we got involved with last year! We teamed up with award-winning theatre company Dante or Die as they toured their 80s themed show ‘Take On Me’ to leisure centres across the country. We helped them bring it to Alive Oasis in Hunstanton, West Norfolk, and worked with an amazing Local Coordinator Debbie and an outstanding community cast to make the show happen. Our favourite outcome was the life-changing impact the experience had on the community cast, with many telling us how taking part had improved their confidence enormously.
Writers’ Residencies and Commissions with Inn Crowd: Last year, we’ve worked with the National Centre for Writing to commission two writers’ residencies in rural Norfolk pubs, as part of the Inn Crowd project. Inn Crowd supports rural pubs to host live spoken-word inspired performances and to engage different audiences that perhaps wouldn’t normally attend arts events, and reinforces the pub as an important community hub. Acclaimed spoken-word artists Byron Vincent and Luke Wright both spent time in different rural communities in Norfolk in 2018, observing rural life and how the pub functions as part of this. Their observations have formed part of new work, which will be touring pubs in 2019.
Our First Fundraiser: In December, we held our first ever fundraising quiz! We’re aiming to raise £25,000 during our anniversary year to ensure we can continue to make a difference to rural communities for another 25 years, and our Christmas Quiz was the first big event we’ve done to help us reach this target. It was a fantastic night, with friends, family, staff and board members joining in on the fun. Keep an eye on our social media and newsletter for the total amount raised!
So that’s some of our highlights of 2018… what are yours? Were you involved with or did you attend any Creative Arts East-supported projects last year? What were your favourites?
Photo Credits: Anita Staff and Trish Thompson