Knife Crime Awareness
Between 2017 and 2018 Knife Crime in England and Wales rose to record levels with the number of fatal stabbings the highest since Home Office reports began in 1946. Almost half of the victims where under 30 and were overwhelmingly male (source: bbc.co.uk).
This Artsmark Celebration Week, Kate Brown, Director of Learning at New College Leicester, talks to us about the launch of a brand new creative arts project and how New College are making bold steps towards addressing this national crisis…
"Feeling vulnerable and peer pressure are identified as some of the common reasons given for carrying a knife, therefore it’s imperative we tackle these issues in early teenage years to keep young people safe.
As a preventative measure, we have taken an innovative approach to using the arts to address these challenging societal issues. We have worked closely with one of our Artsmark Partners, Soft Touch Arts, to design a project to address the risks our young people may face as we believe using drama enables students to explore the issues in a collaborative way and help challenge misconceptions within a safe and non-confrontational environment. It also allows the project to have a wider impact as students can share their work with their peers.
The Project Launch
Twenty Year 8 students have been selected to work with visiting artist, Trina Halder of Mashi Theatre. Mashi Theatre is a Leicester-based company known for sharing universal stories with a playfulness and colourful exploration evocative of South Asian culture. Soft Touch Arts commissioned Trina to work as the Artistic Director for this project due to her extensive experience working with young people in the area.
During Artsmark Celebration Week students will commence a series of devising workshops culminating in a performance to the whole of Year 7. This will be followed by role play and debating activities exploring the themes raised in the performance during student led workshops.
Students’ beliefs about knife crime will be gathered at the start and end of the project to measure impact. Our aim is that students develop a greater awareness of the dangers of carrying a knife but also an appreciation of the devising process and performance skills. We also hope students will refine many of New College Leicester’s ‘This Is Us’ skills such as empathy, confidence and resilience.
What can you take away?
One key aspect of our Arts and Culture Strategy at New College is ensuring the creative activities we engage in have a lasting positive impact. A film of the students’ performance and an accompanying teaching resource will be created alongside the project to enable us to deliver this venture again in the future.
I’d encourage other Artsmark settings to work with arts organisations and Artsmark Partners to identify and share objectives before jointly planning activities. This enabled us to plan a much more authentic experience for our students. Invite your local arts providers in for a chat over coffee and see where it takes you!
We have really enjoyed working with Soft Touch Arts on this project and are already planning our next project to engage our students in Soft Touch Arts’ Upstart programme which uses creative activities to develop young people’s confidence and build life skills."
Follow the progress of this exciting new project on Twitter.
Find out more about @SoftTouchArts