This is a looooooong list of projects I have worked on through the past 17 years, as a face to face workshop leader, artistic and technical mentor, editor, technical producer and organiser. It is in no way complete but I am working on it : )
Murder at the Abbey. Working with young people and Take Over Radio to make a film about the history of Leicester Abbey. Funded by Heritage Lottery Fund.
CICC. Working with young people from the Children in Care Council to make a short film to reflect young peoples views to workers involved with their care. Soft Touch Arts.
Comedy Shorts 4 comedy shorts, 90 seconds each, made by groups of young people. Contact Project. Phoenix Square. Soft Touch Arts. First Light.
Games, Games, Games A DVD with films of games. Woodcraft Folk. Soft Touch Arts.
The Portal DVD A zombie film with a literacy theme made by primary school children. Willowbrook Primary school. Rob Gee. The Mighty Creatives.
The Magic Leaf DVD Newly arrived primary school children, mainly from India, go on a magical journey. Abbey Primary School. Soft Touch Arts.
Olympic Shorts 4 short films that illustrate key Olympic and Paralympic values made by young people. Participants quotes: ‘It was really fun and inspired me to make more short films’, ‘It was a brilliant experience, I enjoyed myself and would do it again any day’, ‘I particularly enjoyed making the idea up ourselves’, ‘Enjoyable, would do it again tomorrow’ Film Nation. Cultural Olympiad. Soft Touch Arts. See the films here: Determination, The Runner, Be Inspired, What will you see today?.
Animation Experimentation An animation project exploring issues around faith/life views and community cohesion. Films by students at Regent College were screened at the BBC Big Screen in Leicester. Soft Touch Arts. Faiths in Action.
Jane to Jane. The Lady Jane Grey history project run over one year and was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. It was a history drama film project with students at Beaumont Leys School lead by Soft Touch Arts Ltd and filmmaker Tove Dalenius. Read more here.
Braid Braid Women’s Group was meeting weekly at Sure Start St Matthews, Leicester. There was a crèche for participants’ children. The sessions were running until the end of December 2010 when funding ceased. The sessions were informal – asylum seeker, refugee and other newly arrived women met to share and learn arts and crafts skills. Alongside arts and craft activities a midwife and other health and support professionals ran health awareness sessions and offered advice. 2010 was a successful year for Braid where support and peer support has been offered to newly arrived women in Leicester, some of which are refugees and asylum seekers or women waiting to find out about their future status may be. Some of the participants have struggled through difficult personal circumstances; others who are settled have enjoyed the support and positive atmosphere in the group.
Lets hear what the participants themselves have to say about this year with Braid: “I like coming because I learn many new things, sewing, art etc. I really like meeting new friends. I feel I have a family here”, “The sessions have helped me to gain confidence”, “I have learnt arts and crafts skills that will be very helpful my whole life and to pass on to my children”, “It has widened my horizon by meeting/making friends with mothers from different religions and cultures”, “Every week I have met new people, improved my English language skills and helped me feel part of a group”, “Above all it is a “free from worries” “no-miseries” time.” Says participant living with Post traumatic stress disorder.
In this time of extensive cuts in services for the most vulnerable groups in society Tove Dalenius and Soft Touch Arts would like to emphasise the significance of building opportunities for positive, creative socialising and peer support, in a professionally supervised comfortable environment.
Braid Braid Women’s Group was meeting weekly at Sure Start St Matthews, Leicester. There was a crèche for participants’ children. The sessions were informal – asylum seeker, refugee and other newly arrived women met to share and learn arts and crafts skills. Alongside arts and craft activities a midwife and other health and support professionals ran health awareness sessions and offered advice.
Participant’s comments: “I go to other classes, but it is just me and a computer or me and the teacher and books. But, here I get a personal touch and personal attention and we can discuss anything and everything. The midwives and the nurses come while we do art and we get special help. This group teaches us a lot, new skills and also that we are important and it makes us feel better about ourselves, we make each other happy – it’s good to get away from our sadness, turmoil and devastated lives.”, “I like to learn new things and this is a good place and good people who help me and make me feel better because I’ve lost so many people in my life, my mum, my dad, my sisters and my baby, and coming here doesn’t make me feel so alone and sad.” Health Professional’s comment: “They have a great support network here and it’s very welcoming of women, whatever culture, it’s comfortable. And also, they don’t have to come every week, but they know when they come they’ll get that really warm welcome. There’s something about women getting together … especially vulnerable women. They’ve really been able to bond, it’s been fantastic.”, “They can focus, it’s time for them, the creche is here. From my point of view – women together, childbearing women – I’ve done pregnancy tests, preconceptual care, chats about labour, a lot of feeding support. We’ve accessed something here which is a bit of a goldmine.”
Positive Spin This project involved some 40 young people from Leicester who created animations and a series of posters around the theme of intercultural understanding and misunderstanding. The project was picked out by the funders as being one of the best six out of the 1,000 projects in the first round of Media Box funding. It was also so well received in Leicester that the young people involved were invited to speak at a citywide community cohesion conference. Two of the animations were picked for screening at the Co-operative Young Filmmakers Festival at the National Media Centre in Bradford in October 2008. Media Box. Soft Touch Arts.
Willing to chill A feasibility study designed and written by young people. The aim of the report was to find out what the young people of Leicester would like to see provided for them in the basement of the church. A multicultural chillout space was the answer. A questionnaire designed by the young people was sent to over 700 youngsters between the ages of 14 and 19. Four young people were key in writing and presenting the report. Read more here. Bishop Street Methodist Church
Fashion Show Backdrop Projection. Digital Arts project with students from Crown Hills Community College on a theme of ethics. Multiple projection screens with avant-gardeistic imaging and films. Soft Touch Arts.
Getting Children Counting Soft Touch Arts Ltd were commissioned by the University of Leicester to make a film aimed at parents and family friends to encourage them to do activities with young children to get them counting. It was chosen to be sold through the Association of Teachers of Mathematics’ resources catalogue, and hasconsequently been used for undergraduate and postgraduate courses in many UK universities. During the last three years, there has been a growing international audience, too, as universities in the USA, Columbia, New Zealand, Australia, Spain, Switzerland and Sweden have used copies in their courses for professionals working with young children and their families.
Young Dads Fathers in their teens and early 20s from Leicester made this DVD to show the realities of parenthood and to highlight their needs. Read a BBC news item here. Luke Gosling. Sure Start. Home Start. Leicester City Teenage Pregnancy and Parenthood Partnership. Soft Touch Arts.
T.A.L.E.N.T. Four films made by groups of young people from across Leicester. “Evil Sister” SJNCC, “You are Wrong” Phoenix Reel Crew, “Megs” Babington CC and “Thursday, Thursday,Thursday” Moat CC. Phoenix Arts. First Light.
At Gartree’s End. Young people of Gartree out on location making a scary movie set in their village. Harborough’s Chill Out Bus enabled us to set up a mobile film workshop in the centre of the village. Everyone in the group got involved in the many stages of producing the movie such as: story-boarding; make up; music; set design and set building; filming; video editing; stills; and costume design. Soft Touch Arts.
It’s a Mix A twenty-minute film produced with Two Halves One Whole, part of the Leicester Family Support Unit, featuring young people of multiple heritage talking about, and making sketches around issues they face. Soft Touch Arts. 2005
Phoenix Reel Crew Teenage film makers produced “My Leicester: Teenage Kicks” a 5 minute drama about the teenage tribes in Leicester. Premiered at the Phoenix Arts independent cinema. Several young people who took part in this project has carried on to study film at graduate level. Phoenix Arts. Crime Beat Leicester. HI8US First Light. Take Over Radio. Soft Touch Arts. Read BBC feature here.
Getting Children Talking Soft Touch Arts Ltd were commissioned by the University of Leicester to make a film aimed at parents and family friends to encourage them to do activities with young children to get them talking. It is available from University of Leicester’s School of Education here.
My Highfields, Your Highfields. The Young Roots programme of the Heritage Lottery Fund provided funds for young people from the Highfields neighbourhood, Leicester, to make a digital project about the history of their area. To carry out the project, Soft Touch and filmmaker Tove Dalenius worked with a group based at Moat Community College. The young people examined how the people and culture of Highfields has changed in the recent past and how the neighbourhood might be in the future. They traced their own families’ journeys around the world using recollections from their grandparents, parents and their own memories to find out how they all ended up in Highfields. Using a video cameras they captured places of cultural and historical interest in the neighbourhood. The finished film was installed in the community gallery of Newarke Houses Museum. See My Highfields, Your Highfields here.
Take a Look Around The producation of this DVD was carried out within the Geography curriculum. It forme part of the ‘Welcome Project’ was a two-year programme of arts based projects focusing on cohesion and integration and took place at Babington Community Technology College in Leicester. A group of students from different ethnic backgrounds and areas of the city made the film about where they lived and their journeys to college. The DVD was then used as a teaching resource by the geography teachers and was shown on the plasma screens in the school. The geography teacher noted how the project had raised his awareness: “I have become more aware of the areas students come from. In the back of my mind I thought most of them came from Beaumont Leys, but in fact not all are from the same background. In my teaching the project will help not to automatically jump to conclusions about the students – I’ll be better informed..”. One of the Vice Principals could see the wider benefits; “Anything that helps the kids to learn is needed. Also work that addressess self esteem and works with different groups. For example, the ‘Take a Look Around’ project – it’s good for students to go outside Beaumont Leys and see other parts of the city.” Minority Ethnic Language and Achievement Service (MELAS). Neighbourhood Renewal Fund. Government Office East Midlands. Soft Touch Arts. Read a Soft Touch Arts case study here.
Basketball and Baasto. Young Somali people from Leicester talk about their cultural heritage, current situation and future aspirations. Made with young people studying at Regent College working with filmmaker Tove Dalenius and Soft Touch Arts Ltd. Read more here.
Family Flavour is a comedy drama which looks at generational expectations within Leicester’s Asian communities. This short film was funded by First Light, a scheme set up to encourage young people to develop interest and skills in filmmaking. The film was nominated for the First Light Film Awards at the Odeon West End, in London’s Leicester Square. Announcing the nominations UK Film Council Chief Executive Officer John Woodward said; “Despite having little or no previous experience of filmmaking, young people across the UK have produced many extremely high quality films thanks to the First Light programme. These Awards celebrate their achievements. “
Asian TV Sexual health Adverts Through the Media Asian Sexual Health (MASH) Fund, Soft Touch and film maker Tove Dalenius worked with young people to make two TV adverts with safe sex messages. A young people’s drama group developed the adverts – their challenge was to come up with ideas which were going to get across clear messages without being too controversial. The group identified as a key issue the fact that young Asian people and their parents simply did not talk about sex and relationships, both sides finding it difficult to broach the subject. They came up with the idea of making two linked comedy style adverts, one encouraging parents to talk to their children and the other encouraging young people to talk to their mums and dads. The Adverts were broadcast on terrestrial and satellite Asian TV channels. Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Health Promotion Agency. Soft Touch Arts.
New Arrivals Soft Touch were contracted by Staffordshire University to make a consultational action research video with young people newly arrived to Leicester. The video formed part of a research project initiated by Government Office East Midlands, about the integration of newly arrived familites and pupils into the Leicester education system. A core group of 12 young people working with film maker Tove Dalenius put the video together. It consists of interviews with around 50 young people highlighting their different experiences of coming to Leicester and starting a new school. The video was launched, along with the written research report in September 2003, and has received enthusiastic feedback from the statutory and community sectors. Staffordshire University. Government Office East Midlands. Soft Touch Arts.
Melbourne Street Nature Garden Over the summer of 2002 Soft Touch arst worked with Friends of Melbourne Street Garden to refurbish the garden which we had helped to create previously. A large planter was removed to make way for Islamic style tiles made by local women and children. A new (solar powered) water feature was installed, an important element in many traditional Islamic gardens.
Hyped Young men from Glen Parva Young Offenders Institute, young people from Crownhills Community College (mainly South Asian Young people), First Out (lesbian, gay and bisexual young people), Girls Breakout (rurally based girls group) and Leicester African Caribbean Centre focused on issues which particularly affected their lives and worked through graphics, photography, copy writing and video to produced adverts that were transfered to 35mm film and shown at commercial cinemas like the Odeon. The National Lottery. Soft Touch Arts.
The Short Story Show Primary school children working with animation to make their own versions of classic fairy tales. Highfields Primary School.
Girls Breakout Video, Groby Community College, Girls Breakout 2000
Crash Young peoples film about car crime, young members of Sapcote ‘Y’ Club were been nominated for a ‘CRIMEBEAT’ Crime Prevention Award. Working with filmmaker Harvey Sharman. Y Club in Sapcote, Soft Touch Arts
Babington Truancy Project Video, Soft Touch Arts
Books for babies and toddlers Video, distributed on VHS : ) Soft Touch Arts
Sculpture Trail Video documentation of sculpture trail. East Midlands ShapeYouth 9t9 A moving Objects Display, bringing the museums objects and art in to the communeties. The display explores some of the pressures of beeing a young person in today’s society. It features a video made by young people. The Open Museum. Leicestershire County Council. Soft Touch Arts. Melbourne Street Nature Garden Over the summer of 1999 Soft Touch Arts worked with Friends of Melbourne Street Garden (A initiative started by Tove Dalenius and local residents) to install a metal railing designed together with local women and children. A blacksmith worked with children in the garden making designs. A mosaic based on Islamic patterns in Spanish Alhambra was laid in the garden paths by a local artist.