2018 - Our Big Review of the Year

2018’s been a brilliant and busy year for Accessible Arts & Media (AAM). We’ve put on some amazing gigs and workshops, developed new programmes and we’ve even moved offices! 

Every year we ask our project participants, artists, volunteers, staff and supporters to tell us what three words they’d use to describe Accessible Arts & Media. Here’s what they told us:

AAM WordCloud

2018 saw some exciting developments for our iMUSE programme:

We’ve started delivering iMUSE for mental wellbeing sessions in partnership with The Hut York. The sessions are designed to help support people’s mental wellbeing and they’re open to anyone. 

Recent participants have told us:

"I felt a lot calmer, more relaxed, more able to cope with stresses in my life. I felt like iMUSE was a safe space where I could come and truly relax." 

Participant taking part in a mental wellbeing iMUSE session

We also started running iMUSE session for people with dementia and memory loss at Glen Lodge, a sheltered housing with extra care scheme in Heworth, York. The impact has been incredible, with all participants reporting an improvement in mood following each 30-minute one-to-one session.

“I think your sessions are of great benefit to the residents. Alzheimer’s can be such a lonely disease, I have seen the dramatic effect it has had on my dad. To bring an hour’s joy to my dad’s life is indescribable - to see my dad genuinely smile and enjoy himself will be in my memory forever. You have made a difference to my dad’s life, even if he can’t remember all of the sessions I will.”

And we just started a 3-year iMUSE programme for young people with complex needs in partnership with NYMAZ. This year we’ve been working in Henshaws College in Knaresborough. Students at the College have been accessing weekly iMUSE sessions, learning how to use the iMUSE space to create music and sounds. And we're teaching staff how to use the iMUSE space so they can continue to support students using iMUSE after our sessions have ended.

Glen Lodge iMUSE participant taking part in a session

Our Local Community:

In June this year, we relocated across the city to Sanderson House in Acomb. We’ve spent the last few months getting to know our new neighbourhood and all the amazing people living and working here. Over the summer, we opened up our doors to people living in Chapelfields to ask them what they’d like to see happening in the local area. We’ve had some great responses that we’ll be using to help shape our programmes over the next few years. We’ve also started offering open iMUSE sessions at Sanderson House on a Monday from 10am – 3pm, alongside a social drop-in cafe.

2018 Performances:

It’s been another busy year packed with great performances from our choirs.

In March we were honoured to take part in The Imagine Project, a very special performance organised in memory of Ella Batters, a young woman from York who passed away in 2017. The night was a showcase for inclusive music making at its best, with performances from Hands & Voices, the Honeysuckle Singers (local people living with dementia) and Communitas (people who use mental health services). And, to top it all off, it raised over £2,700 for AAM and Musical Connections. Big thanks again to Wayne, Karen and Nicky for organising the gig.

In July we asked you to join us for a trip back to the '80s with Party Time, where Hands & Voices performed alongside our friends from Copmanthorpe Community Choir. With hits like 'Fernando', 'Wake me up before you go-go' and 'Let's Dance', we got a proper whistle-stop tour of ‘80s party classics!

Hands & Voices choir member performing at the All that Jazz gig

In October our IMPs and Hands & Voices choirs joined forces to bring us All That Jazz, an afternoon of Jazz favourites. They were joined by our friends from York Jazz Initiative Jazz Choir. There were jazz hands a-plenty, and some knock-out performances of songs like Gin House Blues, Blue Moon and Down by the Riverside.

Choir member performing at the all that Jazz gig at Askham Bryan College

This year also saw some of our participants’ art and poetry exhibited as part of the cultural wellbeing exhibition at York Art Gallery. And in December our choirs had a blast raising over £450 for Accessible Arts & Media as part of their annual festive Christmas Buskathon. Well done guys!

Hands & Voices and IMPs busking in Coppergate

2018 Awards:

We were really honoured this year to win a Duke of York’s Community Initiative Award. The Duke of York’s Community Initiative (DOYCI) is a Royal Award presented to community projects based in Yorkshire. In order to qualify for the Award, programmes and organisations have to be:

  • of real value to the community, well run and an inspiration to others; and
  • owned, developed and led by the people they serve.

This was the second time that AAM’s been given an award by the DOYCI. We’re proud to be recognised for the valuable service we provide to our local community. And equally proud that the Award acknowledges all the incredible people who take part in our projects and who are at the heart of everything we do. 

Hands & Voices choir member receiving our DOYCI award from HRH The Duke of York

This year our fabulous IMPs also took part in the Arts Award programme for a second year running. IMPs members learned to play new instruments, got to talk to artists about their work and even interviewed singer-songwriter Kate Rusby! They all had a lot of fun talking about the different kinds of art we can experience.

IMPs members with their Arts Award Explore certificates

In November our Cabaret of Dreams production, written and performed by Hands & Voices last year, was shortlisted as Best Cultural Experience at York Culture Awards. The Culture Awards were set up to celebrate excellence in the city's arts and culture sector and reward outstanding innovation, creativity and quality. For Hands & Voices to be shortlisted alongside two large-scale professional productions (Shakespeare's Rose Theatre and the Theatre Royal's The Secret Garden) goes to show that great cultural experiences come in all shapes and sizes. We didn't win on the night, but it was great to be in such good company!

York Mediale:

IMPs member taking part in one of our Mediale Summer workshops

This year we were chuffed to get the chance to work with York Mediale, York’s new international festival of media arts, to deliver our IMPs summer holiday clubs.

Throughout August we ran a series of workshops exploring digital arts. The sessions gave children and young people the chance to explore new creative technology and create their own digital artworks.

2018 Fundraising Heroes:

A photo of our York 10K runners with their medals

We’ve had some amazing support this year from local businesses. We were Ambiente’s charity of the month and Castle Howard invited us to be their charity partner at their 2018 Proms. We had 15 incredible runners in this year’s York 10K and Yorkshire 10-mile races who raised over £4000 for Accessible Arts & Media. And we’ve had a bunch of lovely people sign up for our Hands & Voices sponsor a place scheme which we launched in November.

New Projects in 2018: 

A life stories participant

Thanks to funding from York CVS’ Ways to Wellbeing Small Grants Scheme we’ve been able to develop our Life Stories project this Autumn. The project sees us working on a 1-to-1 basis with people across York, helping them to tell their story. This development of work we first started in 2016, working creatively with people going through a period of crisis. Life Stories helps them find creative ways to tell their story and communicate what they’re going through.

As we wrap up what’s been an incredible year, we’d like to thank all of our funders, supporters, project participants, Trustees and volunteers. Thank you so much for your support - we couldn’t do what we do without you.

We can’t wait to see what 2019 brings!