Pushing Boundaries is a finalist in the Manchester Culture Awards 2023!

We’re absolutely thrilled that CAN and Curious Minds have been nominated as a finalist for a Manchester Culture Award.

3 October 2023

It was announced on the 4 October 2023 that our innovative project Pushing Boundaries has been shortlisted as a finalist within the awards’ category of Promotion of Culture and Education. Pushing Boundaries was created in partnership between CAN and Curious Minds.

The creative workforce in the UK is not representative of the population. The Pushing Boundaries project responds to Manchester being one of Europe’s most culturally diverse cities where nearly 200 languages are spoken. It’s important that children and young people work with teachers and creative educators who mirror their own cultural backgrounds.  Unfortunately, for a range of reasons, this isn’t yet the case.

Working with diverse artists supports children and young people’s confidence and well-being, their aspirations, tackles educational inequalities and helps build community cohesion.

Pushing Boundaries built skills and opportunities for new migrant artists, including artists who have experienced forced migration, to deliver creative projects in primary and secondary schools as freelance workshop leaders and facilitators.  The participating artists hailed from diverse countries, including Ukraine, Iran, Iraq, Palestine, Kurdistan, and Ethiopia and work in dance, music, visual arts, theatre/storytelling, and circus.

Meet the artists here.

Five training days supported the growth of the artists’ knowledge of the English curriculum understanding of how schools work, and how their art form can help children and young people’s attainment. Pushing Boundaries also built the participating artists’ practical skills in creative facilitation and negotiating contracts with schools.

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

Specialist mentors with established careers working in schools and engagement settings were partnered with an artist. Pushing Boundaries’ artists gained hands-on practical experience with a five-day placement in Greater Manchester primary and secondary schools. The placements helped the Pushing Boundaries artists build their skills in lesson planning, workshop delivery and evaluation.

New migrant artists frequently have less developed networks, so Pushing Boundaries culminated in an evening networking and showcase event at The Whitworth.

Artist photos and biographies were profiled in a mini-exhibition and artists mingled with teachers and arts and cultural organisations. The evening featured music and song, storytelling, and dance. Our guests really got into the swing of Palestinian and Ethiopian dance with some very energetic audience participation.

Check out the photographs from the evening here

We’re delighted that all Pushing Boundaries’ artists have gained paid facilitation work with a wide range of Greater Manchester organisations, schools and educational institutions including Afrocats, Bolton School, CAN, Culture Bridge, The Friars Primary School, HOME, Music Action International, Rainbow Haven, Royal Exchange, St Mary’s CoE Primary School, St Joseph The Worker RC Primary School and Z- Arts.

We’re looking forward to celebrating another fantastic year of culture with our fellow Manchester art, culture and heritage organisations and Councillor Luthfur Rahman, Manchester City Council’s Deputy Leader. 

Wish us luck as we head off to Aviva Studios, home of Factory International on the evening of Monday 4 December 2023.

Photograph of the Pushing Boundaries networking event by Shirlaine Forrest




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