Vital Communities is a unique action research project, initially over three years and with the aim of conducting the study over a 15 year period. Through a vibrant, innovative and inclusive programme of high quality creative activities - dance, drama, film, literature, music and visual art, the project aims to demonstrate the impact of the arts upon individual and community development and to investigate whether the arts have a positive impact on the aspirations, achievement and attitudes of specific communities across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
Vital Communities is providing high quality arts activities to 360 children in their first year of Primary School, extending out to their families and immediate communities in nine separate locations. The profect will then follow the children and their communities through the fifteen year period of the research. Participant groups have been selected to be representative of the breadth of social conditions of the sub-region including for instance, areas of rural isolation, small market towns, urban fringe and locations already identified for regeneration.
Themes of the research include the effects of the arts activities on the creative economy, healthy communities and vital neighbourhoods. This will involve monitoring:
Phase 1 of Vital Communities to 2007 is being funded by the seven local authorities of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and Arts Council England East together with National Lottery funding.
The research for Vital Communities is being carried out by Business of Culture Ltd. - an experienced independent consultancy - in close collaboration with the Steering Group and Project Manager.
Gina has been involved with Vital Communities from its launch in 2005, initally in a taster phase during the Autumn term 2005 where she worked in four of the locations, producing batik style panels with all of the children. These have been assembled into quilts for the participating schools.
She has completed three residencies during the 2005/2006 school year.
The first was in St Thomas More School, Peterborough where all the year 1 children
printed and tie dyed garments, culminating in a fashion show at the
end of the residency.
The second was in Ramsey Spinning Infants School. Here, the children made observational drawings of fruit which they then translated onto fabric panels. These were painted with fabric paints before adding stitch and beads. The panels were then assembled into a hanging for the school.
Gina's third residency was Trumpington, Cambridge. Working with fruit again, which links well with the current healthy eating campain, the children started with observational drawings of various fruits. They then constucted a variety of flags using various textile techniques. Some were batik style panels, others were printed with actual fruit and others were appliqued and decorated with stitch and beads. All the flags, as well as those painted by members of staff and other classes were stitched together to form lengths of bunting.
The bunting was displayed at Waitrose, Trumpington over the summer holidays and has now been returned to the school.
For the academic year 2006/2007 the Vital Communities artists are working in pairs within each community
which marks an exciting new phase in the project. In the autumn Gina worked in St Neots
with film maker, Tim Brook. Their first session was a family workshop during family learning week.
The results of this can be seen by clicking on the link below.
Tim and Gina continued to work with both year 1 and 2 children and some of their parents over the Autumn term,
making a film based on the traditional children's story Lazy Jack
This summer Gina has worked on a residency in Ely with Poet, Clare Crossman. We started with a family workshop where some groups worked with Gina making a large collaged tree and others wrote poetry with Clare. The poems were then written onto tissue paper leaves and stuck on the tree. This was displayed at our final celebration in the Lady Chapel in Ely Cathedral.
The year 2 children from Spring Meadow Infant's school then visited the Stained Glass Museum in the Cathedral where they made observational drawings of the stained glass and wrote poetry inspired by the windows. Back in the classroom they developed their poetry and transfered their drawings onto perspex panels, producing their own "Stained Glass." Gina also made similar panels with the children from the nursery school and year 3 children at St Mary's Junior school
Our final celebration took place in the Lady Chapel at Ely Cathedral. The resulting panels were hung in strings in the niches of the chapel and then several of the children read their poems.
Click on the image for a larger view.
Most of the perspex panels are now hanging in the entrance to Waitrose in Ely town centre where thay can be seen over the summer. Some are also on display at the Stained Glass Museum in the Cathedral.
Stained Glass Museum
For further infomation about Vital Communities contact: