by Author Zoe Kilb

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Energiser Fund programme examples

Thinking about applying to Youth Music's Energiser Fund?

Here are some examples of programmes that could be supported by Youth Music through the Energiser Fund. These are imaginary programmes and are to give you an idea of what an Energiser Fund programme could look like (this is not an exhaustive list of possibilities!)

Northside Nursery 
Northside is a nursery based in the East Midlands. They are a really creative nursery and the arts an important part of how they work with their children. They regularly work with artists and have run projects with local music and theatre organisations.

They want to use the Energiser Fund to deliver creative activities for their 2-year-olds and their families. They will work with two arts organisations to deliver a weekly creative club. Initial conversations with children and parents/carers have told them that they want to explore filmmaking and visual arts activities (especially messy ones with paint and glue!). Northside know their families have limited time, money and space to engage with creative activities at home – so being able to offer this at nursery is really important. Though they're starting with film-making and visual arts they’ve left lots of flexibility in the club's schedule so that they can respond to the children and explore other activities.

Northside Nursery is really interested in understanding how the arts can support wellbeing and mental health, as these are particular challenges facing the nursery’s community at the moment. They are looking forward to the mentoring aspect of the learning community, as they would really value the time to reflect with someone from outside of the nursery school as they explore the impact of the activities on the children and how to capture this in a child-led and creative way.  

Creative Music Collaborations CIC
Creative Music Collaborations have been delivering music workshops with toddler groups and nursery groups for the last 6 years in villages and towns across Somerset. Their music-making is child-led, and their musicians come from a range of backgrounds including classical, folk, pop/rock and also dance. Their music sessions are usually filled with improvisation, song-writing and dancing - all built around the children’s ideas. Creative Musical Collaborations have started to bring other art forms into their sessions including drawing, painting and dance, but these currently feel like an add-on. 

They want to use the Energiser Fund to explore how they can empower their musicians to be more confident with different art forms. To do this they will partner with a range of South West based artists and organisations. Each of their musicians will be paired with another artist (for example a dancer or storyteller), to co-deliver a residency in an EY setting. Each residency will be open-ended. Practitioners and children will work together to explore different ideas and come up with the creative journey. They anticipate each journey might end in a different output – maybe a visual arts display or a performance or a musical storybook it depends where the children’s ideas take them!

They see this fund as not only an opportunity to widen their musicians' creative skills but also to do a deep dive into different ways adults and children can create together, and to really question what co-creation could look like. Through the learning community they look forward to connecting with different artists and understanding how they approach co-creation with young children.

Forestside Library Service
This Library Services works across the Forestside District in the North West. They run a regular programme of storytelling, rhyme-time and arts and crafts sessions across their libraries. These take place during the daytime and are targeted at toddlers. They have an established advisory board – where parents & carers meet to input into the activities they run, new books to buy and feeding back about things like library facilities and opening times. They’ve become aware that parents/carers are bored with the current sessions on offer, and they want to see a bigger range of activities. Staff are also aware that activities don’t always reflect the diversity of the children and families that visit the libraries. They have identified that there are some exciting skills within the advisory board membership including musicians, visual artists and a poet, and initial discussions have revealed that some parents would be up for delivering and running some activities themselves.

Through the Energiser Fund Forestside want to support three strands of activity. Firstly a redesign of their activity programme with children & parents/carers. Secondly running a paid training/mentoring scheme for parents/carers. And finally they want to explore creative ways to bring children’s voices onto the advisory board. They will be working with a local theatre and storytelling company to support with initial delivery of new activities and run the training and mentoring. They are looking forward to the learning community as their team doesn’t often get the opportunity to connect with those outside of their local area and this would be an exciting way to explore new ideas and ways of thinking. 

Middle Street Gallery Space
Middle Street Gallery are based in a seaside town in Yorkshire. Their gallery space exhibits a range of touring exhibitions, which are free to access. They have an established programme for early years groups and young children, though activities usually take place in an 'education space’ which is separate to the main gallery. Early years groups and children are free to explore the main spaces, but the gallery team feels that there is more they should be doing to support this. In a recent survey EY groups and families reported feeling nervous and unwelcome in the main gallery space.

Middle Street Gallery’s learning question is therefore ‘How can early years children take ownership of the gallery space?’ They want to use the Energiser Fund to partner with two local nurseries. They will invite children into their gallery space and using a mixture of free-play, creative activities, talk and observation – they want to reimagine their spaces with those children – trying out different ways of setting up and using the gallery, and really challenge themselves to think and do differently.

They’re really excited about the learning community – they hope to be able to connect with and visit other venues and spaces and learn how they invite EY children into their buildings.

Tottering Theatre Company
Tottering Theatre Company are based in North West London. They specialise in devising work for under 5s, in particular babies and toddlers. They tour shows to regional theatres across the country and also run theatre and movement workshops for under 5s. Their practitioners are very experienced at working with under 5s, and the way they work is child-led and responsive. However, their work with Disabled early years children is very limited, and they know that the accessibility of their performances needs to improve. They have also reflected with their creative team and identified that they need to build their skills and confidence in this area.

Their work will be based in North West London, where they will work closely with a local Disabled children charity, and with another theatre company that specialises in work for PMLD children, who will provide training and support and act as a 'critcial friend'. Through the Energiser Fund they want to work in three settings and devise a new theatre piece with and for Disabled children (particularly those with PMLD). Throughout the programme they want to continually reflect on how child-led their devising process is. They think the learning community, and in particular the monthly online peer learning sessions will provide a real driver with this, and allow them to get input and challenge from creatives across the country.