We’re absolutely thrilled that CAN and Curious Minds won a 2023 Manchester Culture Award for our project Pushing Boundaries

On Monday 4 December at the McrCultureAwards, held at Aviva Studios, the project Pushing Boundaries, developed by Community Arts North West in partnership with Curious Minds, won the Promotion of Culture and Education award

6 December 2023

Pushing Boundaries was developed to respond to the need for the pool of freelancers devising and delivering arts workshops in schools to better reflect the diversity of the UK. Manchester is one of Europe’s most culturally diverse cities with nearly 200 languages are spoken, but the pool of facilitators delivering workshops for the city’s children and young people need to diversify to properly reflect the Manchester’s communities.

Talking about the awards, Councillor Luthfur Rahman OBE, Deputy Leader Manchester City Council said:

 “The judges were blown away again this year by the sheer volume of nominations made and what this says about the energy and enthusiasm there is in Manchester for culture and the arts.”

“The calibre of all those nominated for awards is a reminder also of why Manchester is known as a place that punches well above its weight in terms of its culture and creative output.”

Katherine Rogers, Senior Creative Producer at CAN, said:

“It’s an honour that CAN and Curious Minds have been recognised for Pushing Boundaries, especially considering the brilliant projects in our category. Congratulations to our fellow finalists: All for Ukraine, Art With Heart, Manchester Museum and the Grange School Manchester and Youth Pride MCR by Manchester Pride.”

“In my 13 years at CAN, it’s always been humbling and a profound privilege to work with artists from all over the world, who have come to the UK for different reasons, but often because they have stood against oppression and injustice. Often, the artists we work with find it difficult to access opportunities and don’t always receive the respect they deserve, because of the significant barriers they face, within the arts and society as a whole.”

“Pushing Boundaries valued the artist’s skills, giving them the space to share their knowledge and skills with us and, in turn, we supported them to secure more creative work in schools. What sets the programme apart is the bespoke nature of the work, the depth of the programme and a commitment to accompanying each artist in their journey. The journey towards an equal society is a long one, but it starts with projects like this.”

Research reveals that having the opportunity to work with teachers and creative educators who mirror their cultural heritage supports children and young people in achieving better outcomes, including growing their confidence, improving well-being, and enhancing their aspirations.

Pushing Boundaries’ participating artists hailed from countries, including Ukraine, Iran, Iraq, Palestine, Kurdistan, and Ethiopia and work in dance, music, visual arts, theatre/storytelling, and circus. Meet the artists here.

Fariba Taghypoor, a Pushing Boundaries artist, said:

“Many thanks for the wonderful event last night that you shared with us. I appreciate your support and kindness. It was a significant cultural milestone event and I found more ambition to achieve my goals and dreams.”

The programme featured skills and knowledge development, mentoring and school placements.  We’re delighted that all the artists who took part 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.

Photograph: Manchester City Council.


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