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In the final part of my blog about how we can support young people  and their mental health through the arts, I discuss how we have begun to embed mental health champions into our young people's delivery team as well as proactively promoting the positive impact of engaging with the music projects we already offer.
 

JW was asked to deliver a 5 minute presentation for Friday 16th February at the Ordinary Arts Festival Seminar.  The seminar speakers were all asked to focus their presentation on addressing 2 questions:

What barriers does your organisation present in offering access to disabled young people?
What barriers do you face form other organisations or society when designing your offer for disabled young people?

Here’s a transcription JW’s presentation ;

‘Hi  I’m Jane Williams, Director of The Turning Tides Project. We aim to make equal access to music, the arts and life a reality for people with ‘learning disability’ or ‘autism’ labels.  

We only have 2 rules:

Everything we do seeks to demonstrate the Social Model Approach , in action
We don’t do anything unless we think it will be fun.

I was struggling with preparing this presentation . When I asked myself why I found I had 2 issues :

Even if you talk fast, you can’t say much in 5 minutes: How will I make sure I say the things that matter?
I’m not sure that making seminar presentations is fun

Then it occurred to me, I just needed to be who am and demonstrate what The Turning Tides Project is. A 5 minute presentation might not be long but 3 1/2 minutes is the perfect length for a hit song.
So here’s ours. It’s called  ‘Who are the Experts?' and we wrote it for you - enjoy and do feel free to join in.'

Is an approach to inclusion organisational progress?
Or a statement of a fall-back position to exclude?
Who invented our indicators and outcome jargon?
Did disabled young people write our rules?
 
Who are the experts?
 
Self-appointed inclusion experts
Our reaching out makes us hard to reach
Equal access makes us all redundant
That’s the position we need to preach
 
Who are the experts?
Who are the experts?
 
 instrumental break 
 
Who are the experts?
Who are the experts?
 
The detail that matters is not our detail
Is anyone really hard to reach
If it was fun, cool and useful it wouldn’t be me
Standing here making this speech
 
Who are the experts?
Who are the experts?
Who are the experts?

Once we’ve recorded it, you’ll be able to download ‘Who are The Experts’ and hear some of the other original music of The Tuning Tides Project at: https://soundcloud.com/tttp-1

Until April 11, Arts Council is having an open conversation with anyone that has a stake in or an opinion on the future of arts and culture in England. Make your views heard!

In the second of this three part series, some of the young people we work with at More Music share their experiences of how coming to projects and playing music has a positive impact on mental health and well being.

 

Week after week we read reports about the rising number of students disclosing a mental illlness when they arrive at university (Krause, 2017), of how ‘girls and young women are experiencing a “gathering crisis” in their mental health linked to conflict with friends, fears of body image and pressures created by social media’ (Campbell, 2017). That in an average class of 30 schoolchildren, 3 will suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder; of how social media platforms, described as more addictive than cigarettes, are detrimental to young people’s mental health and well being (2016, RSPH).

“Writing and making music helps me to express my emotions in a calm, productive way and helps me to deal with situations which I would struggle to deal with. It helps me understand and evaluate situations more clearly rather than have everything get confused in my head. It’s a good way to get everything out and say everything I want to say.”

The Kithara Project is a collective of guitarists working to promote the guitar and with it, to create, perform, educate, engage, and empower in socially responsible ways in Mexico and the USA.

Noise Solution's focus on capturing impact and finding a validated means of measuring well-being has led to funding from the Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group. This is a huge validation for Noise Solution and a recognition that, when properly evidenced community music can be commissioned as a clinical intervention.

There is an international movement of community music and everywhere I travel I see a different side and aspect of the practice. Currently I am teaching for 2 days at the Conservatorium in Brisbane, Australia after working on two conferences in Hong Kong and Auckland.

I write this as we are about to embark on our new horizons conference for 2017. An event that we started last year – structured around a series of speakers and conversations on a theme. This year’s title - Breaking Down the Barriers: The Arts, Disability and Change. But we’re not experts or leading the field, like Drake Music or Graeae or a number of other organisations or consortiums who are leading by example, so it begs the question.....How dare we host a conference around disability and the sector, hypocritical or what?!!?
The answer for me is a very simple one – we want to get better.

In the growing absence of safe spaces for creative young people to practice their arts. We've been reflecting on tapping into current culture to support young artists looking to evolve their practice and performance opportunties.