by Lis Blake
One of our key areas of focus is working in schools where children experience socio or economic disadvantage, with an interest in the transitional years, particularly Years five to eight.
Why this age group? It is during these middle years that human’s brains develop the most – after their development from ages one to five. It is at this age that neural pathways are being programmed for later life. If a child has good experiences or relationships at this time, she/he feels good about themselves and learns to deal with difficult challenges in a positive way.
Polyglot creative residencies in schools are a perfect platform through which kids build the vital personal socio and emotive skills of self-esteem, and learning to work with and value others. Our work with Mahogany Rise Primary in Frankston North has exemplified this impact. See our evaluation report here.
We are expanding and building long term partnership cluster schools in Frankston North, Brooklyn and Collingwood, aiming to work with each area for at least five years. This way we can build skills and trust from year to year across the community. This also means weaving an important network of kid-mentors through the projects thus keeping older students involved and connected once they move onto secondary school.
Evaluation is also massively important. We’re setting up long-term evaluations with University of Melbourne and Yarra City Council, using Polyglot’s innovative space Voice Lab, a private space where kids can tell us what they think. We are members of Yarra City Council’s Communities that Care Board, establishing and evaluating best practice for kids and looking at a range of preventative activities and interventions which will support kids in the middle years.
The communities with which we are now working, and the communities with which we aim to work are diverse, positive and embrace new artistic challenges. It is a program that aims to create projects with children and their communities who have little access to the Arts.
4 September 2015: Outside In, an installation exploring our relationship with nature through sculpture, film, animation and dance created by students at Annunciation Primary School and Polyglot Theatre.
9 September 2015: Jump! a spectacular premiere of short films about transition, created by the students of St Joseph’s Primary School, Collingwood with Polyglot artists.
23 October 2015: Ideas: Art and the Middle Years – Forum. A dynamic and thought provoking opportunity to hear about current thinking and evaluation. We hope to network with artists, educationalists, specialists, producers and funders and learn more about some of the fine creative work happening in schools with leading Victorian artists and arts organisations. This forum is co-produced and hosted by Yarra City Arts and Polyglot Theatre.
Talk with Lis Blake, Community Collaborations Producer for more information about the projects, partnership and funding opportunities.