'A Bigger Picture' - Come and be a part of it.
I know we do this every year, but seriously, it's pretty scary how quickly 2017 is running by us, right?
For the last few months, alongside prep for our Autumn tour of SNOOZLE & THE LULLABUGS (open for booking by the way, so get in touch), I've been knee deep in planning for the Inclusion Conference. If you've come this far, you're probably already aware of what it is, but if not...
Main Conference: 26th-27th June 2017
Creative Workshops: 28th-30th June 2017
"The Adventure Collective – Inclusion Conference will focus on the journey and development of children and young people with disabilities from birth to 19 years, with emphasis on how inclusive creativity can greatly contribute towards social development, happiness, personal empowerment and the improvement of communication skills. The Adventure Collective will bring multiple sectors together and encourage the sharing of ideas and experiences, highlighting the challenges that these young people can face and how the Arts is perfectly poised to bring adventure, enjoyment and happiness to their everyday lives."
Having only taken over the reins here as Lead Artist - Inclusion last December, the idea of this conference quickly became something I really wanted to develop. As a regular in Replay's inclusive shows over the last few years, such as BLISS, CLOSER, INTO THE BLUE and SNOOZLE & THE LULLABUGS, I was privileged to experience some of the most uplifting, rewarding, emotional and truly wonderful moments of not just my career, but of my life. Sure, there's plenty of graft and the early morning drives are a killer (especially when you're in the big ol' Replay van and everyone else is whizzing past you on the motorway!), but boy do we get to have fun in our jobs. We bring professional sensory theatre to the doorsteps of some of the most vulnerable children and young people in our community. These are young people that face challenges and difficulties every single day of their lives that most of us will simply never experience. No matter where we visit, whether it's our good friends at Parkview or Glenveagh and all the other special schools, or the wonderful NI Children's Hospice, we are always treated to some of the happiest environments and welcomed by some of the biggest smiles and greatest personalities. I'm lucky to have been visiting these great places for a number of years now, but I don't think I'll ever get used to the magic that can be found in every room, in every member of staff, and in every young person I meet. It's amazing.
This is why we're hosting the Inclusion Conference. After every show we perform we collect feedback and once every production has completed its tour we draw up an evaluation report. This helps us learn how we can continue to create better shows that better suit the audience, but it's also extremely valuable in helping us put across the value of what we deliver to our funders. The feedback we get from audiences, companions, teachers, parents, carers and whoever else engages with us, keeps reminding us of why we do what we do. For a young person with profound learning difficulties, creativity has the power to bring happiness, entertainment, comfort and that little bit of much needed adventure.
While creativity and play is a key component of the daily structure for special schools and care charities, Replay Theatre Company is one of only a small number of arts organisations in the UK and Ireland that offers a dedicated Inclusion programme. We feel that we have a responsibility to change this. We want to promote the benefits of inclusive creativity, to artists, performers, designers, arts organisations, schools, care organisations, councils, charities, arts centres and everyone else in our community. Thankfully, we're not alone. We're teaming up with some amazing organisations and individuals, such as Francesca Martinez, Action for Children NI, Blue Teapot Theatre Company, Drake Music NI, Action Ability Belfast, Town Hall Symphony Hall (THSH) Birmingham and many more to deliver a conference that is valuable, significant and unlike anything that's ever been done before in Northern Ireland.
When I'm old and grey (alright, I'm already going a bit grey) I want to look back and be proud of the contribution I made to making our society that little bit more inclusive. We can't do it without the involvement of everyone*, so please join us and be part of something truly special.
A Bigger Picture.
Alright, serious bit,
Book your place here:
Find out more here:
Contact me here:
email@example.com or 028 9045 4562
Hopefully see you there! Oh, and yep, that's me in the picture and yep, I am dressed as a Martian.
(Marty Greenman, King of Mars I'll have you know...) Andrew.
Lead Artist - Inclusion
*Everyone means you. Yes, you.