Same Difference Festival August 13th West Park and Newhampton Arts Centre, Wolverhampton

Same Difference Festival was run for a second year curated by Wolverhampton CEP (Cultural Education Partnership) working with the #YES youth board. The festival is led by young people for young people aged 11-18 years and included a range of creative activities and local live bands in West Park.   A specially curated underwater sea installation Making Waves by Curiosity Productions with Cloud Cuckoo Land  in the circus tent at Newhampton Arts Centre invited neurodiverse children and young people to participate and dive into this beautiful environment.
Making waves, feeling the water sway with the winds, an event where we showcased the creatures of the sea by creating origami creatures and using recycled materials for puppetry. By creating an underwater landscape scene with various textures and using rhythmic sound to recreate the calm ocean waves, we welcomed children into an all-inclusive space to enjoy various activities to create an aquatic environment. Having a circus tent space for creative activities as well as a chill out zone to process things or calm down, children could engage in a multi-sensory arts event involving dancing, creating crafts and singing. It was a wonderful experience to ensure we could support a wide range of neurodiverse young people, in the best possible way. From umbrella jellyfish to glowing origami seahorses a magical murmur in this magical space created imaginary waves as we replicated oceanic waves.

Windrush Carnival at National Arboretum August 6th

Black Voices curated a programme of community choirs, carnival dance and glorious musical offerings, including a commissioned ‘Across the sea’ for massed choirs composed by Ken Burton. This piece was sung by all choirs assembled to honour the Windrush pioneers and the 75th Anniversary of the Windrush arrival to Tilbury Docks. See:

This was a brilliant occasion hosted on the stage by Nikki Tapper in the National Arboretum, to honour and celebrate the pioneers for their perseverance, hope and endurance, which gave birth to the lively caribbean community, gathered there that day! The celebration was moving and colourful at all levels and it was a privilege to be there.

“I mainly supported with getting the ACE Dance and Music participants ready with faces painted, I am not too sure how ACE Dance and Music ere provided with a tech schedule to follow, which stated which groups were performing when and for how long each piece was. The performance did run over the anticipated finishing time, and this was due to it taking longer than anticipated to get all performers into correct positions and ensuring that no costumes were at risk of being damaged to spacing issues. The hardest part of the performances particularly arose with the ACE Dance and Music adult dancers wearing large costumes. They were not able to perform their full dance routine as the performance space was tight and the wind created problems for certain elements of costume pieces to blow off. This meant that the performers changed the routine on the spot resulting in them having less movements.

A key highlight of the event was instantly at the start once the music came on and all ACE Dance and Music participants and staff members began with the procession all members of the audience joined in and began dancing and followed the moves of the ACE students, this showed true audience participating and engagement as all young and old were joining in and dancing along in true carnival spirit. Upon ACE fining all staged performances a high proportion of the audience followed ACE and continued to dance with the music, this led to the ACE students teaching the audience parts of the routine and having conversations with members empathizing the importance of both carnival and these events for the community spirit it brings together. The audience followed the staff at ACE on the day and joined in as much as possible.

The event was not ticketed, and no bookings were required to attend, this is beneficial for an event of this nature as being held in an open public space meant those who have just attended the arboretum for recreational purposes are able to also participate and an audience member and ails gain a wider insight into events of this nature through seeing what is on offer. The demographics of the audience age range varied widely as there were many children and their parents who attended. However there were also invited guests, who were from the original generation to have migrated on board HMT Empire Windrush. These members also had generations of family members attending with them to show their support and all joined in with a day filled will fun carnival spirit. As attending the event was free and not ticketed, members of the public just arranged themselves in a manner where they were able to see what was happening and have view of the stage.”