MakeBelieve Arts turns 11!

On 02.02.13, it will have been a whole year since our 10th Anniversary celebrations, making MakeBelieve Arts 11 years old! And what a year it has been.

This time last year we were all rushing around preparing for the big ‘one-zero’; baking giant cakes, photocopying memory books into the night and rehearsing pieces with our Boys Literacy and John Roan 6th Form drama groups.

We were also asking the question, where next?

So, where has that journey taken us?

We’d like to take you all on a whistle-stop tour of our 11th year.

Our first ‘Where Next?’ was a decision to look for a UK patron, and on the 13th April 2012 Michael Rosen joined our esteemed American patron Vivian Gussin Paley.

Just before our 10th Anniversary we found out we had secured the funding from Esmée Fairbairn, allowing us to undertake a robust evaluation the Helicopter Technique of Storytelling and Story Acting. The Open University have been working on the evaluation for the past year and we look forward to receiving it.

Over the Summer term, with funding from the Transformers Grant, MakeBelieve Arts channelled the energy and excitement of the Olympics to support vulnerable Year 6 pupils from 8 primary schools during their transition into secondary school.

Then on Tuesday 3rd July 2012, MakeBelieve Arts held an Olympic themed transition event at The John Roan Secondary School which was a fantastic success. 

The summer of 2012 was a holiday like no other. At a time when the team are usually reflecting on the year gone by and planning for the year ahead, MakeBelieve Arts undertook the mammoth task of delivering 4 back-to-back summer schools, supporting Year 6 pupils in the holiday before they moved on to secondary schools. 

Throughout 2012, MakeBelieve Arts partnered with Crofton Park Community Library and Beecroft Garden Primary School to deliver 3 seasonal themed events. First was the Olympic Extravaganza on 18th July, second came the acclaimed Pumpkin Party on 31st October and finally the Christmas Cracker event on 12th December, which wrapped them all up nicely. We were overwhelmed with the fantastic feedback, as each event brought the community together and made the library come alive.

The winds of change blew through MakeBelieve Arts in September 2012. After 3 years, Alice Edwards (Creative Projects Coordinator) left MakeBelieve Arts in search of a new adventure. Pippa Taylor (Administrative Director) went on maternity leave and Laura Ratling (Administrative Director) joined the team.

Not wanting our premises to feel left out of all the change, MakeBelieve Arts expanded along the corridor at the Deptford Mission and became proud renters of the large room at the end of the hallway, aptly named The Lorax room.

“I meant no harm. I most truly did not. But I had to grow bigger. So bigger I got.” - the Once-ler.

Our Creative Associate team also developed at an exciting rate with 10 new creative associates joining the ranks in autumn 2012. 

Our regular Boys Literacy and John Roan Sixth Form drama programmes have been developing too. We have started to partner up with The Random House Group for our Boys Literacy project and our John Roan Sixth Form performance (happening in March 2013) is set to be the most impressive yet. CLICK HERE to follow the Boy’s Literacy journey on our blog and watch this space for news and photos from the John Roan performance of DNA (book by Dennis Kelly).

Following on from 2011’s successful Giant Tours Creative Science programme, we were thrilled to get funding from Arts Council England and the Wellcome Trust to transform the project into a First Theatre production. Booking the show began in July and it swiftly became a sell-out success. With our new First Theatre touring team which comprised actors: Emma Deakin, Paul Andrew, Serin Ibrahim and stage manager: Martyn Hutchinson and designer Ian Teague and musical director David Baird, Giant Tours toured to primary schools across London, Swindon, Kent, Bristol and Essex from October to December 2012. And this was to be the beginning of a new ‘Across the UK’ era for MakeBelieve Arts

After setting up our satellite areas in Kent, Bristol and Essex, just before our 10th Anniversary, there have been three main factors that have enabled us to gain UK-wide recognition in the past year; taking Giant Tours on-the-road, funding from the School for Social Entrepreneurs, as part of their Lloyds Bank Scale Up programme, and the Helicopter Technique taking off in Kent. Thanks to satellite coordinator Isla Hill winning a contract with the Kent Every Child a Talker programme, ECAT, the Helicopter Technique will be delivered within 18 nurseries across the county.

Amongst all this expansion and change, Trisha Lee, Founder and Artistic Director of MakeBelieve Arts joined the ranks of Independent Thinking, a leading company in its field which strives to make a lasting difference to school communities. Since joining back in October 2012, Trish has already been booked to deliver 8 keynote speeches and INSETs through ITL, across the UK.

Our last piece of exciting news, before the end of the year, was finding out we were successful in our bid to receive funding from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation for a three year secondary transition programme, connecting three secondary schools from Lewisham, Kent and Bristol in a series of creative workshops, peer mentoring and blogging / digital media approaches.  Off the back of this we have employed our newest member of the team – Moving On Up Project Coordinator, Lucy Foster, who we are looking forward to welcoming in February.

Finally, if taking our work ‘Across the UK’ wasn’t enough, Trisha Lee has taken MakeBelieve Arts across the pond and is currently in the middle of a jam-packed three week schedule of conferences, school visits and meetings in New York and Boston.

Phew! What a year. Now, how can we top that in our 12th year I hear you ask? Well, we already have an exciting programme ahead of us, including; Year 1 of the Paul Hamlyn transition programme, the Helicopter Technique’s chance to shine as the evaluation gets published, more ITL INSETs, Creative Approach to Mathematics weeks in Kent, Bristol and Essex, another season of Summer Schools and a digital twist to literacy bringing together schools in Kent and London, thanks to funding from Clore Duffield.