As part of the ongoing work of the Torbay Arts in Schools Network, we are featuring a series of ‘Spotlight Interviews’ with key TASN partners.
Next up: Liz Hill, Director at Daisi
Question: Tell me a little bit about your role and what you do.
I lead Daisi to develop creative projects and programmes that help young people across Torbay and Devon to have the best possible opportunities to take part in the arts, in and out of school. That means thinking about activities for children and young people to do, and also finding ways to support teachers and youth leaders to offer great arts experiences – especially by working in close partnership with local professional artists and with other arts and cultural organisations.
Keeping in touch with what children want and need is really important, so I do a lot of listening, and we make sure that every project includes opportunities for young people to lead and to influence what’s going on. I also look carefully at the barriers that may stop a young person from joining in, or from finding the right arts opportunities for them, and work with our team to design projects to overcome those barriers – so that all young people can experience arts activity (of all kinds, from music to visual arts, dance and drama to creative writing and film making). We know that taking part in the arts benefits young people across their education, social and personal learning needs and Daisi is about making sure that all young people get to have this vital element in their lives as they grow up.
I also have to focus on keeping Daisi running so that we can continue to make a difference for our region’s young people. We are a charity, so this does mean that I do a lot of fundraising, and a lot of work to make partnerships with funders and other organisations so that we can work together to secure funds and make the very best use of them. I need to ensure that Daisi’s staff have the training and resources that they need to do their best work, and I work closely with the Chair of our Board to develop our 15-strong Board of voluntary trustees. They represent a range of interests in our local communities, and keep a strategic eye on how Daisi can create the most possible impact for people.
Question: What’s something really exciting/successful that’s happened in the last 6 months?
We’re currently running a longer-term project funded by Paul Hamlyn Foundation. This is particularly exciting because it grew out of conversations with schools through the Torbay cultural education partnership (led by Doorstep Arts) and the funding bid was co-designed by a group of schools and cultural organisations – so collaboration between culture and education sits right at its heart.
The project, Talking Turns, works with over 10 schools over its lifetime and what’s special is that it allows for longer-term, close partnership working between primary school teachers and local artists (theatre, radio, sound and digital). It’s focused on exploring arts-based teaching and learning across the curriculum to help more vulnerable children increase their confidence and communication skills which in turn helps them to better access school life.
We just held a project Away Day at a wonderful, rural outdoor venue, and it was remarkable witnessing how much the teachers’ creative practice had grown, and the strength of the working partnerships and friendships with the project’s artists. Thinking back to my own early career as a teacher, what I would not have given for a 2 and a half year resourced partnership with a local creative practitioner!
Question: Why are schools relationships important to you? How do the schools get involved?
Schools are an absolutely vital place for children to access the arts. If some children do not have a cultural education at school, they will not meet the arts at all! Daisi has a permanent and constantly growing menu of workshops and projects for schools, including artist visits to work alongside children, and teacher CPD. We also create bespoke projects with schools who want us to help them realise their own ideas and plans. All of these options can be found on our website and you can easily start your booking or enquiry from there too.
Daisi also has a rolling programme of larger, funded projects, often involving a number of schools with all the exciting opportunities for collaboration that brings. These are often theme-based, such as increasing inclusive music education, or working closely with a local heritage site. You can see some great examples of this type of project on our website here https://daisi.org.uk/projects/
Depending on the individual funding and objectives for these projects, they may be a good fit for your school. It’s a good idea to sign up to Daisi’s mailing list so that we can inform you when these opportunities arise.
Question: Can you describe some ways that families with children & young people engage with your work?
As well as our schools programme Daisi also works out of school, for example with youth clubs, home school groups, young people’s housing programmes, with agencies who support care-experienced young people and young carers. We also appear, often with drop-in activities, at festivals and community events. Families, children and young people can follow us on social media, or sign up to our mailing lists via our website, to hear about where you can come and see us next.
You can also contact us through our website to ask what we have available in your area, or to propose that we have a chat with your group to see what we could plan and create together! Young people interested in work experience or leadership opportunities can check out Daisi’s opportunities here https://daisi.org.uk/about-us/young-people/ and there’s also our news page here https://daisi.org.uk/news/ for upcoming opportunities to engage with our work.
Question: Going forward, what are your hopes and dreams in terms of engagement?
My dream is that every single child, no matter where they live or what their life circumstances are, is able to access an arts education – that is full of extraordinary experiences and yet part of ordinary, every day life. An expectation, a right, a crucial element of the whole child education that is available to all and defended as absolutely core to our country’s education offer.
My hope is that Daisi can keep doing our bit to help: brokering new partnerships; designing and sharing workable models; innovating new approaches; supporting staff skills and confidence in and out of school; celebrating young people; raising funds; persuading decision makers.
Stay up to date with Daisi and their amazing work here:
Daisi is a key partner of TASN.
Torbay Arts in Schools Network (TASN) is a collaborative and grassroots effort, comprised of 45 organisations, freelancers, and schools in the Torbay area.
The network serves as Torbay’s Cultural Education Partnership, providing shared regional advocacy, arts menus, creative resources, and arts outreach in partnership with area schools. What is a Local Cultural Education Partnership? Find out more here.
The group is action-driven, and meets fortnightly over Zoom to do shared activity planning. The network is currently chaired and coordinated by Erin Walcon, Co-Director, Doorstep Arts.
The network is open-door and new artists, arts orgs or school staff are always welcome to join –just email email@example.com to sign up to the mailing list.