Reflecting on Pushing Boundaries

Artists from the Pushing Boundaries project have been talking about the benefits of taking part

16 February 2023

With our partner Curious Minds, we had an enjoyable evaluation session with our Pushing Boundaries artists and mentors.

Pushing Boundaries supports artists from new migrant backgrounds, including those who have experienced forced migration, to develop the skills and networks to work in UK schools.

Seven artists working in different art forms including theatre, dance, visual art, and music, have been part of the innovative project. The artists have roots in countries including Palestine, Iraq, Iran, Kurdistan, Ukraine, and Ethiopia are part of the project.

The pilot project began in September 2022 and was developed to respond to the lack of representation of artists from new migrant backgrounds in schools and education.

Pushing Boundaries has supported artists to develop a deeper understanding of art in education in the UK through a bespoke programme of training, an art form-specific specialist mentor who already delivers schools-based arts projects, and a school placement. Artist mentors Magdalen Bartlett, Sanja Govorčin, Ben Mellor and Claire Weetman shared their extensive knowledge of developing and delivering projects in schools.

“This was my first time working in a British school.  The kids loved learning about Dabke, the Palestinian national folk dance, with the added bonus that I was able to speak Arabic with some of them. My mentor was amazing!  The whole placement went really quickly.”

The project has supported artists to build practical experience and grow their networks through placements in Greater Manchester primary and secondary schools. Artists were hosted in Falinge Park High School, Rochdale; Stockport Grammar Primary and Secondary School; Trafford’s Highfield Primary School and Adswood Primary School and St Thomas’ C of E Primary School in Stockport.

The programme culminates in a networking event, where artists will be introduced to Greater Manchester arts organisations delivering work in schools.

It was great to hear the reflections from the artists taking part and to hear about their experiences so far.

Here are just some of the group’s reflections.

“Pushing Boundaries is like a giraffe. We had to grow quickly and have long legs to run!”

“The children were fantastic! Every day, I learnt something new from them”.

“The Pushing Boundaries team shared our belief of the importance of international artists working in schools “.

“My confidence grew as I found I was better than I thought, as well as having the right information.”

“The course made me interested to learn more.”

“I have a clear mind about what I will do next.”

“It was useful to learn about the differences between schools here and those in my home country.”

“Pushing Boundaries is like a Pegasus because it will take you wherever you wish to go!”

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