Last Wednesday was one of those rare occasions that I was allowed out from behind my desk and off into the real world. We’d been invited to take part in a Networking Day staged by Birmingham City Council. The event was billed as an opportunity for arts organisations to meet extended schools co-ordinators and other school representatives.
I have to confess I’m not exactly the first person to volunteer for these sorts of events. They can be a bit dull, and often attended by people who have been told to attend by their boss rather than wanting to be there. However, with another big event that day (Tapestry was being presented to Directors of Children’s Services on the other side of town), the job fell to me and Gavin, our administrator.
And I have to say I was really glad it did. I might have cursed the weight of our display boards once or twice as we lugged them into the foyer of Symphony Hall, but once we were set up it was clear it was going to be more than worth it. The attendees – extended schools to begin with, schools later on – were interested and enthusiastic. We had the opportunity to present a workshop on using drama and storytelling to support children with English as an Additional Language which drew a small but eager group. I had the chance to talk to lots of different people about our work, about what they needed, and about how we could help them.
But there was more. In what we call in our evaluation reports an ‘additional outcome’, myself and Gavin also had the chance to network with other companies. It’s so rare that we all come together in one place, showing our wares and getting chance to chat, seeing some old faces but a good array of new ones too. I’m sure more than one partnership was brokered that day.
All in all a really good way to spend an afternoon. I should really try and get out more often.
To find out more about our extended schools work, you can have a look at Gangs & community cohesion, Holiday projects, English as an Additional Language. Also our theatre-in-education tour Tapestry (Preventing Violent Extremism) which has been mounted in out-of-school settings