In a classroom a smiling primary aged girl hands her collage art work to an adult

Two months that have felt like a life-time!

It’s hard to think back across all that has happened since the ‘lock down week’; it was my last visit to a school on Wednesday 18th March. At the same time all our school and arts and cultural partners were working with us to quickly cancel activity but also assuring artists that they would be paid for the cancellations and that the programme would be rescheduled so would not be lost.

Over these following months we have kept all partners updated and have met virtually to share intelligence across sectors of what is happening and importantly to begin forward planning to reschedule programmes. All the teacher and Heads in our Arts Ambassador school network programme have been enthusiastic about re-starting the programme in Spring Term 2021, and exploring with us the option of micro-commissions to maintain the arts work over the summer and the autumn terms 2020.

It has been heartening to meet teachers across the West Midlands through all our networks, including the CPD Teacher networks through Local Cultural Education Partnerships and Birmingham Education Partnership. Teachers, in partnership with the cultural sectors, are really keen to share learning and to support each other to continue to develop the arts for their students. They have valued meeting up to feel part of a supported community and to begin re-imaging and planning for the next steps both in the short and long term.

There has been a great turnout at all the virtual meetings and they are so popular that we are running more opportunities to accommodate the interest and need. It has been inspiring to hear how teachers have risen to the enormous challenge of supporting their children, their families and school colleagues through the changes.

Arts Connect’ Moonbeams programme, for arts and creativity in the early years, has been re-imagined on-line and our digital Social Meets are being attended by participants from all over the region and internationally. We are running digital seminars on art forms and early years pedagogy, as well as launching our Moonbeams micro-site and Facebook group. It is really exciting to be developing new opportunities and we are looking forward to also sharing our newly commissioned ‘Moonbeams@Home’ co-adventures in arts and creativity for under 5s with their parents and carers.

The arts have particularly demonstrated, over these last two months, how critical they are for all of us, both as individuals and as part of a community in enabling us to share our feelings and our hopes. We know that creativity and artistic expression are fundamental to who we are as people and it is critical to our wellbeing now and ‘moving forward’.

We are here to support you and our partners across the education, arts, cultural and heritage sectors to make sure that all children have the opportunity to have quality arts and cultural experiences in school and at home.

Pepita Hanna, Arts Connect, Associate Director, Partnerships and Investment