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Experiences I’ll remember for the rest of my life

Liz O’Neill and Jo Sliwa reflect on MADE’s journey since its inception in 2020.

Deserunt animi officia culpa enim enim corporis harum est. Consequatur ut similique quaerat. Corporis facilis vitae. Neque et vi
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Deserunt animi officia culpa enim enim corporis harum est. Consequatur ut similique quaerat. Corporis facilis vitae. Neque et vi

Liz O’Neill (Artistic Director/CEO of Z-arts) and Jo Sliwa (Director of Creative Arts at Abraham Moss Community School) co-chair MADE’s Working Group. Here they reflect on MADE’s journey since its inception in 2020.

“This is not just about how more young people in education participate in the arts, but about how the arts participates in the education of all young people. After all, the choice is not whether young people have culture or not, but what kind of culture they want for the future.”Alistair Hudson, Chair of MADE
Early visual minuting from one of MADE’s first meetings, outlining our vision for the city.

MADE is Manchester’s Cultural Education Partnership. Its aim is to support educators by providing high quality, meaningful multi-disciplinary cross-curricular creative learning experiences, connecting children & young people from all backgrounds to arts & culture in Manchester.

“MADE has given me opportunities to be creative, make new friends and use my skills to try and make a difference. I have been offered the chance to be a leader and seen how arts can have the power to highlight social issues that I feel strongly about.”

Launched in March 2020, a week before lockdown, despite the pandemic, it has made significant progress towards its core aim to bring arts and culture to every young person in Manchester, and to help teachers to enrich their lessons with a creative curriculum.

This is primarily due to the passion and drive of the 27 schools and 28 cultural organisations and the young creative influencers who make up the core partnership, which has been even more applaudable given the pandemic pressures they have been under.

That passion and drive galvanised a new approach to gathering the resources that is required to make our big ambition a reality.

MADE’s Creative Influencers developed a 7-point call-to-action encouraging other young people to overcome their reservations and anxieties and visit Manchester’s cultural venues. Designed by Molly O’Donoghue.

“Despite the difficulties of the last 12 months, MADE has continued to grow, delivering large scale collaborations … we’ve built the largest network of Manchester-specific cultural and education partnerships that the region has ever seen …”

The programme is driven by a Working Group comprising of the co-chairs (Education & Culture) from each of 5 task groups which are themed on subjects such as ‘creative skills to increase employability’ ‘youth voice’ ‘creative curriculum’ ‘health and wellbeing’. Plus a Steering Group which includes representatives from the Head Teachers network, the Deputy Leader of Manchester City Council and is chaired by Alistair Hudson, Director of Manchester Art Gallery and the Whitworth Art Gallery.

MADE received investment from Curious Minds (through their Investment scheme, matched by new funds for culture accessed from Manchester City Council Education Dept.). This was then boosted by an innovative collaborative funding model, where 9 cultural organisations included funds for MADE activity in their Culture Recovery Fund applications. This boosted not only the budget to create more MADE-specific activities, but also the commitment from cultural organisations who invested in the partnership. This investment is ongoing, alongside support from MCC.

Investment has enabled funding for a Project Manager who takes the myriad of good ideas from a dedicated team of busy educators and young people, who all volunteer their time for MADE, and makes the magic happen.

“I’ve been on the creative influencer board for about a year and a half now and it’s been great. I’ve met so many amazing people and have been part of so many one of a kind events and experiences that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. It’s also helped boost my self confidence in the fact that the council encourages us to be the best we can be and to express ourselves!”

Manchester has a strong history of cultural organisations working closely with schools. The strength of MADE is that it brings the cultural sector and education sector much more closely together, so that projects and activities are all co-designed by both partners, including the voices of young people themselves, ensuring that projects are designed to be most effective, relevant and useful.

Close collaboration between educators and cultural partners at both strategic and operational levels ensures that projects are closely tailored to the current priorities of schools. This enabled young people to remain connected during a rollercoaster of lockdowns through MADE’s ‘Unlock your imagination’, a series of creative provocations introduced by Lemn Sissay, designed by our cultural partners specifically for the young people of Manchester.

Early identification of the emerging educational priorities of ‘Mental Health and Wellbeing’ and ‘Decolonising the curriculum’ ensured that MADE’s recent work has been both timely and relevant. Facilitating networks between schools and cultural partners develops relationships throughout the city and maximises opportunities to develop the cultural capital of our young people.

Young artists at The Manchester College designed Black Lives Matter wallpapers.

“Working with MADE on Art Assembly was fantastic because we were trying new skills, working with an amazing artist and promoting our fears for the environment. Seeing our work in the art gallery and around the city made me feel proud of what we achieved and I was able to share it with my family.”

In the first two years, MADE worked with 12,000+ children and young people taking part in 28 creative partnership projects between 27 schools and 28 cultural organisations, engaging 79 teachers and creating 36 Manchester-specific teaching resources, presenting at national LCEP symposiums and giving leadership consultations to other LCEP leaders across the country.

91% of our young people said they highly enjoyed being involved in a MADE project and demanded more creativity in school. For 70% of children and young people this approach was a new way of learning.

We can’t wait to see what the 10,000+ children and young people we’re working with this year want to tell us about the impact of MADE’s projects on their lives.

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