Circus to the Schoolyard: A Celebration of Cardiff's Refugee Community
Thanks to the Arts Council of Wales’ Creative Collaborations programme, we are embarking on a six-month partnership with local school, Adamsdown Primary, in honour of Cardiff’s refugee community.
The project marks a first-ever sustained collaboration between NoFit State and a local school, with the residency being characterised by a series of creative workshops with the school’s pupils covering the breadth of circus, storytelling and artistic performance. The residency will culminate in a participatory community day-festival, with creative performances, visual exhibitions and food right on the school’s grounds to celebrate Cardiff’s refugee and asylum-seeking population.
The project has been created as a way of celebrating the diversity of a school that teaches pupils from over 50 different countries, 84% of which speak English as an additional language, and many come from families that have undergone displacement through seeking asylum.
The festival will coincide with Refugee Week (17 to 23 June 2020). Celebrating the growing community of refugees and their contribution to British life, we aim to use creative expression and performance to communicate values and increase understanding of why it is that people seek sanctuary.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic this project was suspended for several months over the Summer. Whilst this was disappointing, the combined efforts of NoFit State and Adamsdown Primary have enabled the resumption of the great work started with these young people.
The project has undergone some changes, responding to social distancing legislation and, more significantly, working to address some of the repercussions of the pandemic. This shift has seen the second stage become more centred around health and wellbeing - using circus as a tool to bring positive experiences to young people that have had to endure long periods of physical and mental inactivity over lockdown.
By encouraging the children to play and express themselves through circus we have seen huge progress from this fantastic group of students. As soon as we were able to start delivering workshops in person again, we started seeing a marked difference in the children, they started smiling more and we saw their confidence grow as they began learning a whole host of new skills.
The planned showcase festival at the end of the project can no longer take place but we've seen this as an opportunity to refocus and create a digital legacy. We’ve been encouraging the young people to create digital diaries of their successes throughout their engagement, and are creating a summary video and a series of intuitive teaching videos for the young people to enjoy long after the main project comes to a close.