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Angus expressive arts project scoops national award for pandemic positivity

Chris McKean and Steve Gibbons of DD8 Music, Jennifer Miller of Angus Council and Kayleigh Wilson from Showcase The Street. Pic: Angus Council.
Chris McKean and Steve Gibbons of DD8 Music, Jennifer Miller of Angus Council and Kayleigh Wilson from Showcase The Street. Pic: Angus Council.

A collaborative Covid Angus arts project has received recognition of the lasting legacy it has created for the area’s young people.

The initiative brought together Angus Council’s vibrant communities team, Showcase the Street and Kirriemuir’s DD8 Music.

And the work it did with more than 250 young people at the height of the pandemic has brought a national accolade.

It won the National Youth Work honour for art and creativity at the 2022 Youthlink Scotland awards.

Young musicians in the DD8 Music project.
Young musicians in the DD8 Music project. Pic: Angus Council.

Pandemic impact on young people

Communities team leader Jennifer Miller says it’s a ringing endorsement of the partnership’s success.

Funding came out from Youthlink Scotland during the pandemic and was then extended,” said Jennifer.

“Young people were disproportionately affected by Covid.

“Things were really tough for them – schools were closed and the social interaction wasn’t there.

“In some cases they weren’t able to go to the funerals of family members.

“The Angus Expressive Arts project was formed to support their emerging needs.

“Detached youth work informed the basis of the project, highlighting worsening or new mental health difficulties for young people.

“It was a really wide menu and using a blend of music, art, drama, virtual reality programmes and dance the project enabled young people to understand and express what they had experienced during the pandemic.

Forfar street murals were created by the young people during the project.
Forfar street murals were created by the young people during the project. Pic: Angus Council.

“Once we were allowed to open up during the summer months we did other things such as street art in Forfar.”

DD8 and Showcase the Street had already been finding their own ways of offering lockdown activities.

For the Kirrie group it included staging online masterclasses with leading figures from Hollywood to the world of music.

Positive benefits

“More than 250 young people engaged across all of the programmes,” Jennifer said.

Improved confidence, self-esteem, the ability to express emotions and a reduction in feelings of loneliness and isolation emerged.

“We connected with other groups like Angus Young Carers and did some work in schools,” added Jennifer.

Elaine Glennie, Jill Boni, Shelley Brandie and Jennifer Miller of Angus Council) with Kayleigh Wilson of Showcase at the awards event.
Elaine Glennie, Jill Boni, Shelley Brandie and Jennifer Miller of Angus Council) with Kayleigh Wilson of Showcase at the awards event.

“So one of the things it showed is how much can be achieved by working in partnership.

“It’s not as if it wasn’t there before with groups such as DD8 and Showcase.

“But the way we used that around arts and creativity was shown to be great.

“It’s a really engaging example of what can be done through a partnership approach and we are all delighted to have received the award.”

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