Our Big Review of the Year - 2019

We feel we say this every year, but 2019 really has been a fun-packed, busy year for Accessible Arts & Media (AAM). We’ve put on and taken part in some amazing gigs and workshops, expanded and relaunched projects within our sensory programme, and we were nominated for a National Diversity Award!

One of our favourite things to do every year is to ask our project participants and supporters what three words they’d use to describe AAM. We’ve loved seeing the words everyone chose this year:

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2019 saw some exciting developments take place across our sensory programme:

Due to popular demand, we relaunched our Movers & Shakers and Creative Interactions sensory sessions. Movers & Shakers is a fun-packed movement and music session tailored for adults with additional needs. Our Movers & Shakers meet every Thursday at Foxwood community centre and as you can see from our video, they have a whale of a time!

Photograph of participants dressed up for Halloween at one of our sessionsWe also relaunched our Creative Interactions sessions this year, to run alongside our iMUSE for complex needs sessions on a Monday at Sanderson House. In the sessions, our artists use intensive interaction and total communication as part of sensory play to support participants in creating their own artwork, music and drama pieces.

“Her communication has been great - she interacts with people well here. She seems really happy. Her confidence has come out. She’s not good with transitions or coping with different places - these sessions have worked really well for her.”

Our iMUSE programme has expanded in 2019, with our team now delivering iMUSE for mental wellbeing every Wednesday at Sanderson House. The sessions run alongside a social space so folk can come along for a cuppa and a chat before or after their session. We’ve also been delivering iMUSE for mental wellbeing sessions at Kyra Women’s project in York.

“I just want to thank you say how wonderful my session with you was yesterday at Kyra -maybe more so because it was totally unexpected. I found it quite emotional and really felt the benefit last night – I felt so relaxed and had the best quality night’s sleep for weeks.”

72723642 2454209734654992 7687761378441953280 o2And as part of our 3-year iMUSE programme for young people with complex needs in partnership with NYMAZ, we’ve been delivering sessions at Ryedale Special Families (RSF) in Malton. We’re also working alongside staff to teach them how to use the iMUSE so then can continue to support young people attending RSF with iMUSE after our sessions have ended.

 Community Media – Life Stories

This year saw us complete our Life Stories pilot project. Through Life Stories, participants work on a one-to-one basis with a facilitator to help them tell their story and communicate what they’re going through. Participants have included people experiencing bereavement or mental ill-health, as well as people coming to terms with a recent diagnosis such as dementia or autism. This year saw Life Stories produce a short film and an audio story that captured the life stories of two participants after the loss of their partners; a book and accompanying audio piece exploring a participant’s experience following a late diagnosis of autism; and a family history book documenting the life story of a participant and her late husband.

‘I’m so much better in myself doing this project with you all. So, so much better, so much happier, so much more giggly.’ L, Life Stories Participant 

‘I don’t know what I would have done without you all.’ S, Life Stories participant

‘I feel I have a purpose now.’ PB, Life Stories participant

‘There must be thousands of people like me on their own in their homes, thousands.’ PC, Life Stories participant

 2019 Workshops & Commissions:

We’ve delivered a wide range of workshops and commissions across York and the wider Yorkshire region this year. It’s been brilliant getting to share our team’s skills and knowledge with the wider inclusive arts and education communities. 

Fullerton2This summer Hannah, our Accessible Communication Coordinator, worked with staff and students at Fullerton House school in Doncaster to help them develop and expand their specialist music provision. As part of this commission, our Hands & Voices trainees went over to Doncaster to deliver a singing and signing performance and communication workshop. This meant that staff and pupils could see first-hand how effective and fun accessible music-making can be.

We also ran a 6-week summer animation project for the Child and Adult Mental Health Services (CAMHS) team at their Mill Lodge residential unit for young people. The group worked together with our freelance filmmaker to produce a short stop motion animation. The young people at the unit wanted to highlight that a young person’s behaviour can often be the result of personal problems they’re going through.

Our Hands & Voices trainees have also been out and about delivering singing and signing workshops at York College for their AS-level music students. And our trainees kicked off the recent International Conference of Social Workers at York University, with delegates from all over the world. They gave an opening talk and workshop, sharing their thoughts on why singing is such a great thing for wellbeing. They also taught the audience to sing and sign to one of their favourite welcoming songs ‘Funga Alafia’.

A photograph of an IMPs holiday club participant dressed up as a space man

Our IMPs programme delivered another series of our hugely popular inclusive holiday club workshops. Our intrepid holiday-clubbers went on a Storytelling Safari, Moved to the Music, took an exploration into the unknown with Space Bunny and pit their wits against our Musical Escape Room. We also delivered an inclusive music-making workshop in partnership with Lollipop York as part of this York’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities celebrations. Phew!

2019 Performances:

66633484 2257240061018628 3608234641351245824 o3This year we brought together music-makers from across the North of England to help celebrate inclusive music-making with young people. With performances from The Sparkle Sistaz, Castaway Sloop Group, Orange Box Choir, Copmanthorpe Community Choir, and our Hands & Voices and IMPs choirs, Sing Out! delivered a riotous afternoon of inclusive music-making.

We were extremely proud to be invited again to be one of the chosen charities for A Night To Remember at York Barbican. Our Hands & Voices choir were chuffed to bits to share the stage with some of York’s musical greats and they brought the house down with their performance of ‘I’m gonna be (500 Miles)’ by the Proclaimers. A Night To Remember is an annual event organised by York legend Big Ian and raises an incredible amount of money for St.Leonards Hospice, Dementia Projects in York, Bereaved Children Support York & Accessible Arts & Media.

In November our Hands & Voices choir took part in the ‘Let There Be Love’ concert alongside the brilliant Musical Connections choir. The gig was at the National Centre for Early Music and saw the choirs performing love-themed songs old and new, including this beautiful version of ‘True Love Will Find You In The End’ by the late great singer-songwriter Daniel Johnston.

As always, we wrapped up our year of performances with our IMPs and Hands & Voices Big Festive Buskathon at the Coppergate Centre in York city centre. We were so lucky to get a beautiful, if a bit chilly, day and the choirs raised over £900 via bucket collections, sponsorship forms and online donations. Wow! Thank you to everyone who supported our choirs’ fundraising this year. We think you’re all AAM-azing!

2019 Awards:

2019 was an especially big year for AAM when we found out we’d been nominated and shortlisted for a National Diversity Award in the Community Organisation category. The National Diversity Awards were started in 2012 to celebrate the achievements of people and organisations from grass-roots communities who tackle the issues in today’s society and champion diversity and inclusion. Whilst we didn’t win, we were incredibly honoured to have been shortlisted for the award and to have had a fabulous, inspiring night at the Awards ceremony in Liverpool Cathedral. We’d like to say a huge thank you again to everyone who took the time to nominate us and say such amazing things about AAM. You can read some of our nominations here.

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This year two of our IMPs, Jess and Amber, passed their Duke of Edinburgh Bronze award. Our intrepid duo had to complete a range of activities and a final expedition to secure their awards. A massive well done to Jess and Amber from all of us at AAM.  

2019 Fundraising Heroes:

Photo of two of our York 10K runners We’ve had some amazing support this year from our incredible fundraisers and local businesses. We were chosen as Can You Escape? York’s charity of the year. The fabulous JNJS Classic Soul team held a Soul Night for us this year, raising £1060. The lovely Immy and Chris raised over £120 for AAM by asking for donations to AAM in lieu of wedding gifts. Two of our fab supporters set up Facebook Birthday fundraisers in support of AAM, raising £160. Thirteen incredible runners took part in this year’s York 10K and Yorkshire 10-mile races, raising over £2500. And in November, we launched our home collection tins for people to collect their small change in to donate to AAM. Our fabulous choir members, support staff and friends of AAM have so far collected over £150 using our tins!

So, as another brilliant year comes to a close, we’d like to take the opportunity to say a huge thank you to all of our funders, supporters, project participants, Trustees and volunteers. Thank you so much for your support - we couldn’t do what we do without you. 

Here’s to an equally fabulous 2020!