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Our voice

Monday 16th December 2019

Shedding the Negativity

Shedding the Negativity

Simon Marshall is a Learning Coordinator at Deda


“This opportunity for our pupils’ voices to be heard and valued will build their confidence, develop their communication skills and most importantly offer optimism beyond the school community.”
Derwent Primary School Assistant Head, Bethany Dickson


Who We Are
Déda is a creative centre connecting locally, nationally and internationally. To offer circus and dance to communities that may have never felt like these activities could apply to them, or that they were in reach, is a real privilege. To take responsibility for the Derwent and Chaddesden ward of Derby and join up what arts and sporting activity is available, give it exposure and platform and a real chance to thrive, through both phases of This Is Derby so far, has been a great exercise in raising pride and youth voice.



What We Did
In October as part of This is Derby Reimagine, Déda hosted the S.H.E.D. (Social Higher Education Depot) at Derwent Primary School. Intended as a space to learn, chat and create, the young people at Derwent Primary loved the arrival of a mysterious new addition to their playground.
Rumours quickly circled of trolls or witches living behind its closed door – instead, the children were even more excited to discover it was a place where, over three days, rappers, cellists, actors, artists and dancers could all help make exciting work alongside the young people.

Why Derwent
Derwent is fringed by busy A-roads on 3 sides which form a physical barrier for the local community to have convenient walking access into the city. Due to this, the area has a degree of isolation from city amenities, particularly access to arts organisations. To bring the arts activities directly into the neighbourhood’s school proved hugely beneficial.
This model was trialled during This Is Derby’s first phase – with weekly arts and sports sessions from January to July, coordinated by Déda, ranging from carnival crafts to drummercise. Derwent Primary were excellent advocates of the project, including us training two young poets in performance skills there, so to now share dance and other creative skills was a great development of this work.


The Impact Made
Groups of young people receiving pupil premium had access to the sessions which were based around reimagining both the S.H.E.D. and their local environment. Young people commented on wanting to improve safety, reduce pollution and have access to more performance events such as festivals.
Alongside this arts activity in school time, Derby City Sport Forum offered a range of physical activities in lunchtimes – over 100 kids participated in a mass drummercise, a cricket match and a basketball tournament over the three days, thanks to 24Fit, Derbyshire Cricket Board and Trailblazers.
In total 36 young people engaged in direct arts enrichment with artists, and performed in a sharing to parents of a dance and shadow puppetry piece they created with Déda’s Associate Artists, MSDC.
It was hugely exciting to hear the school, parents and young people reflect on the activity and their area.


‘It’s been the best day ever’ – one child said. ‘I want to teach other people to dance too.’


What Next?
The value of this work stretches beyond the playground and the classroom, empowering young people to be confident, creative and interested in social change. Already we have great plans to work with a number of primary and secondary schools in performance-making across 2020.


Simon Marshall