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More than the sum of its parts: a 13 month year with Ignite Imaginations

Updated: Jul 14

Ignite Imaginations is a local community arts organisation that I was fortunate to work with

for 13 months of creative adventures, new experiences and lots and lots of learning.


Powerful work

One of the first things I was involved in was a project in partnership with Adullam Housing, providing art workshops for adults with mental health issues and culminating with this exhibition in the Sheffield Winter Gardens.


Simple joy!

Later in the year we geared up to the Christmas event that is just

one part of the organisation's work with Age Better in Sheffield. Through working in partnership with this programme, I learned a lot about all the things we can do to reduce social isolation for older people. And then on the 20th of December I learned how long it takes a team of 6 youngish to middling ones to wrap nearly 100 Christmas presents. (Answer: longer than expected..)


Creative projects

Next up, a creative consultation in Darnall with a specially commissioned wishing tree. Working with a steering group convened by Sheffield Culture Consortium, we designed and delivered fun and creative ways to find out how people experience culture in the local area, and what they would like more of in the future. My favourite quote from the notes left on the wishing tree: Be helpful and kind, listen to your parents, share.


Global Pandemic

Then, at the beginning of March, I took a week’s annual leave, during the course of which “coronavirus” became A Thing. Very soon after I got back, we were in a lot of extremely rapid change, moving to remote working, using up our lifetime allocation of saying unprecedented and finding new ways to make a creative offer to local communities.

Within two months we had delivered a new pilot project of Creativity Packs for children and families and not long after heard we'd got some very welcome Arts Council England Emergency Funding.


Strong partnerships

Working for Ignite Imaginations means working in partnership with funders, schools,

organisations and all kinds of community groups. I particularly enjoyed working closely with Sheffield City Libraries and it was great to coincide with their Year of Reading. Another new Covid-19 experience was our change to offer online workshops instead of in-person delivery in local libraries.



Beautiful questions

One of the things I do in my spare time is facilitate a Philosophy in Pubs group, encouraging people to ask questions about things like the purpose of beauty or the meaning of art. It has been great to work practically to provide art and creativity as a profoundly accessible way in to all sorts of big life questions. Right at the end of my jam-packed year I was privileged to be part of commissioning Through My Window for Migration Matters Festival. What does it make you think?


Sheffield – home for creativity

Although I’ve lived in Sheffield over 30 years, it had been more than 15 since I had a job based here and it was great to get connected again. The wealth of creativity and culture in the city is hugely inspiring even – or especially – in these difficult times. I’m looking forward to staying involved as we emerge into our new normal. Much can change but essential creativity won’t – it’s a core part of our collective humanity.

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