Inspire’s response

BACKGROUND

The young people’s working group INSPIRE is the successful outcome of the community celebrations project run by Nairn Children’s Art Club to teach young people how to organise their own events in the course of creating a special procession for Highland Year of Culture 2007.  This project was recognised as one of the top ten examples of best practice during the year in a report by the 2007 Year of Highland Culture team.

 In 2008, INSPIRE produced a further winter procession – NAIRNIA to celebrate the switch on of Nairn’s winter lights.  A strong core of participants has formed a cohesive group over the formative years and in addition to the main annual event they have during 2009:

  • rehearsed and enjoyed a performance during the NAIRNIA feedback event in      March in Nairn Community Centre
  • rehearsed and performed as a street carnival band in Grantown on Spey and
  • performed as support to Orkestra Del Sol at the 2009 Strathspey in May Festival. 

    INSPIRE has a committee of 12, consisting of 4 adults (2 male and 2 female) and 7 under 25 year olds (1 male and 6 females).  The broader involvement reaches over 400 direct participants.

 INSPIRE AIMS TO:

  • provide young people in Nairnshire with opportunities to fulfil their potential through participation in creative activities
  • establish and maintain an ethos based on open access
  • attract a wide membership
  • enhance local skills through the provision of training opportunities for young people
  • link with other local initiatives as appropriate.

 INSPIRE’S OBJECTIVES ARE TO:

  • ensure and encourage

      – a wide community involvement and access in the 14 – 25 age group

            – a high quality of experience for participants

            – a good & open working relationships with all interested parties

            – working practices in line with the Highland Council

            – a robust Child Protection Policy

  • implement a programme of activities which

      – is available, as appropriate, to the 11 – 25 age group

       – includes training opportunities

  • research and secure appropriate funding packages which

       – enables the engagement of skilled arts practitioners

       – facilitates the use of the latest technologies in activities.

 WINTERSONG
In providing a unique winter event for the town, WINTERSONG:

developed through a series of creative and technical workshops targeted at young people and led by high quality facilitators in Art, Costume, Music, Singing, Drama and Production

  • was open to young people primarily and others from Nairn and the wider surrounding area
  • provided young people with opportunities to realise their creative potential through using a ‘master and apprentice’ approach
  • developed grass roots support through involving primary 7 pupils in a transition project feeding into the event
  • offered young people with training opportunities through assisting facilitators to deliver P7 workshops
  • was driven by young people in conjunction with their mentors, partners and the wider community.

 FEEDBACK

With regard to some recent comments on the WINTERSONG Celebration held on 27 November and as an organisation which believes passionately in promoting goodwill to one and all, we have been saddened by the criticism of INSPIRE and its achievements.

 Over the past 4 years we have delivered processions themed ‘Carnival’, ‘Peter Pan’ and ‘Nairnia’ bringing much joy to the community and the hundreds of young participants involved.  We have also raised the profile of Nairn positively through television coverage on both the BBC and STV.

 When the new lights were hung, funded by The Highland Council, 2007 Year of Highland Culture, the Rotary Club of Nairn and the European Union, they were unveiled as the “Winter Lights” as money from the public sector is required to reflect the needs of the whole community. 

 INSPIRE, set up in response to young people in the town who wished to learn creative and organisational skills to mount events in their own community, is also in receipt of public funds and as such, needs to embrace all members of the community of any denomination, colour or creed.  However this does not prevent the annual processions mounted in celebration of the Winter Lights switch on from reflecting spiritual values through a message of love and inclusiveness. 

This year’s theme, ‘WINTERSONG’, has become the focus of some misinterpretation.  The concept began with a group discussion by members of the INSPIRE committee around the well known maxim “the sum of the parts is greater than the whole”.  The idea of a communal song evolved as a vehicle to involve as many people in the community as possible – bringing all “parts” together to form a whole.  The symbol of fire and ice, the logo for the event, was developed to represent the good things about winter – the beauty of winter, the cold drawing us round the fire with loved ones and also expressed the contrasts which remind us of the good things in our lives.

 This creative process was not informed by religious beliefs, neither Pagan nor Christian or anti religious beliefs – it was the result of young people wanting to deliver an inclusive celebration for the town.

The atmosphere on Nairn High Street on Friday 27 November was certainly one of joy and goodwill:  the young people in the band played their hearts out, the large effigies created a wonderful spectacle, the whole crowd joined the choir, Santa was in his grotto and the Provost pronounced the beginning of the festive season by wishing everyone a Happy Christmas when it comes.  We sincerely hope that all the residents in Nairn, whatever their beliefs felt they could share that moment together and that “the sum of the parts was truly greater than the whole!”

 CONSULTANCY

In previous years INSPIRE has had support from within The Highland Council through the Arts Officer, Assistant Cultural Officer or Cultural Co-ordinator.  With the ambition of becoming a more sustainable organisation and with welcome funding from The Highland Council, INSPIRE has been offered the services of a Consultant to work up to April 2010 with two main tasks.

 1.  Develop and deliver an event for the community during Winter 2009.

This event was to build on INSPIRE’s experience and successes by taking the saying ‘the whole is stronger than the sum of the parts’ as the inspiration for a new form of community celebration, where the focus is on the winter lights switch on ceremony boosted by:

 establishing a new community choir

  • commissioning a new song for the choir, which will be rolled out for the whole community to learn and premiered during the winter procession
  • embracing Gaelic culture more fully
  • focusing more on non – verbal pageantry.

 2.  Create a Business Plan

The aim is to consolidate INSPIRE as a sustainable community organisation, with the ability to deliver training, activities and community events. This process includes:

  • researching the potential for longer term funding
  • exploring closer working with other community based groups and businesses. 

 Objectives

  • ensure the 2008/2009 INSPIRE AGM is delivered appropriately
  • coordinate planning meetings to define a winter community celebration for 2009
  • prepare financial applications as appropriate
  • identify professional facilitators and adult volunteers to assist with delivery
  • target potential participants (schools, community groups, local residents)
  • liaise with appropriate statutory bodies (The Highland Council, Police)
  • put in place processes for evaluating and monitoring the project
  • ensure all activities are delivered in accordance with recognised Heath and Safety and Child Protection procedures and other recognised event delivery practices
  • explore options for the continuation of INSPIRE on a sustainable basis.

 Outcomes

The role of INSPIRE is consolidated and developed through:

  • increased skills in young people in event organisation, delivery and    management and in a range of carnival activities (art, music, performance)
  • increased skills of adult volunteers to support youth and community activities
  • developing annual, inclusive, winter community celebration for Nairn
  • exploring the potential for other community and business groups to build on the success of the Winter Procession with satellite activities
  • enhancing the profile for the area as a desirable place to live and visit
  • activities becoming completely community-run.

 INSPIRE’S CARNIVAL BAND

A core group of INSPIRE participants who have learned skills in the carnival band workshops during the processions now wish to develop an ongoing carnival band involving percussion, brass and other wind instruments enabling them to: 

  • attend a series of focussed music workshops to help them build on their experiences
  • encourage new participants to attend entry level workshops to develop grass roots involvement and a rolling memberships as young people move on from the area
  • pilot the concept of monthly follow up workshops to involve members on a year round basis
  • develop opportunities for them to play at other events and introduce other music styles
  • become a core element within a 2/3 year development plan for INSPIRE.

 INSPIRE IS STRENGTHENING THE LOCAL COMMUNITY THROUGH:

  • developing closer working relationships with other cultural activities as described in the Nairn Development Plan under 6.1 TOURISM and 6.2 CULTURE AND HERITAGE
  • contributing to a pathway for young people into a career in the cultural sector
  • promoting good citizenship by helping young people deliver a major community event
  • offering a range of creative, diversionary after school activities for young people
  • providing a big, supportive platform for performance
  • increasing skills and raising self esteem in young people
  • mentoring young people to enable them to participate as workshop assistants and organisers in their own right
  • facilitating opportunities for young people from different areas to work together
  • providing a platform for satellite activities from local groups and businesses
  • providing local schools with an event promoting positive transition from P7 to secondary
  • developing an ongoing Carnival Band capable of performing at other events in the area
  • exploring closer working links with other cultural providers in the area
  • developing ideas for events at other times of the year.
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