Circus to the schoolyard: a celebration of cardiff's refugee community
Thanks to the Arts Council of Wales’ Creative Collaborations programme, in February 2020 we embarked on a partnership with local school, Adamsdown Primary, in honour of Cardiff’s refugee community.
The project marked the first-ever sustained collaboration between NoFit State and a local school, with the planned residency being characterised by a series of creative workshops with the school’s pupils covering the breadth of circus, storytelling and artistic performance. The residency was originally designed to culminate in a participatory community day-festival, with creative performances, visual exhibitions and food right on the school’s grounds to celebrate Cardiff’s refugee and asylum-seeking population.
The project was created as a way of celebrating the diversity of a school that teaches pupils from over 50 different countries, 84% of which speak English as an additional language, and many come from families that have undergone displacement through seeking asylum.
The festival was planned to coincide with Refugee Week (17 to 23 June 2020). Celebrating the growing community of refugees and their contribution to British life, we aimed to use creative expression and performance to communicate values and increase understanding of why it is that people seek sanctuary.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic this project was suspended for several months over the Summer. Whilst this was disappointing, the combined efforts of NoFit State and Adamsdown Primary enabled the resumption of the work in the autumn term under the new name 'Into the Light'.
The project had undergone some changes, responding to social distancing legislation and, more significantly, working to address some of the repercussions of the pandemic. This shift saw the second stage become more centred around health and wellbeing - using circus as a tool to bring positive experiences to young people that have had to endure long periods of physical and mental inactivity over lockdown.
By encouraging the children to play and express themselves through circus we saw huge progress from this fantastic group of students. As soon as we were able to start delivering workshops in person again, we started seeing a marked difference in the children, they started smiling more and we saw their confidence grow as they began learning a whole host of new skills.
As the planned showcase festival at the end of the project could no longer take place we took this as an opportunity to refocus and create a digital legacy. We have created a film of our time with the school along with a series of intuitive teaching videos for the young people to enjoy long after the main project came to a close.
We would like to thank the amazing teaching and support team at Adamsdown Primary, they are brave, dedicated and passionate about their pupils welfare.