Unique educational and cultural opportunities for our children and young people
Durham County Council is committed to raising the aspirations of children and young people across the county, encouraging them to strive for greater things, providing them with unique educational and cultural experiences and instilling in them a belief that they can achieve.
Working across a range of the council’s departments, DCC have been providing children with access to some of the best educational and cultural experiences. This includes access to some of the region’s and the UK’s finest talents in their field, who have been helping to inspire them.
Durham Vocal Festival, one of the county’s flagship musical centrepieces, brought some of the UK’s most talented singers, musicians and composers together with choirs and musical groups of all ages from across County Durham and Darlington.
As part of the festival, local children took part in various workshops and events including pupils from five schools, (Framwellgate School Durham, Finchale Primary, St. Bede’s Catholic School and Sixth form (Lanchester), St. Bede’s RC Comprehensive and Byron Sixth Form, Teesdale School and Sixth Form).
They worked with professional composer Paul Smith to create a specially commissioned piece of music called Dunelm Lux Aeterna (Durham’s Light Eternal), which was performed by them alongside professional singing group VOCES8 in Durham Cathedral. Around 70 pupils were selected to take part in a two-day taster course with singers and tutors from the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain.
Continuing in the cultural sphere, Gala is set to offer local children the chance to be inspired by top children’s illustrator Nick Sharratt, known for his imaginative drawings in books by authors Julia Donaldson, Jacqueline Wilson and Jeremy Strong.
Run in conjunction with our library service, the Right Royal Drawalong is an event at which children and families can come and get tips from the creator of much-loved characters like Tracy Beaker and Timothy Pope as he teaches them how to draw anything from dragons to unicorns. The team at Gala is in regular contact with children and young people across the county as part of its theatre education programme. Offering local children the chance to meet and engage with working professionals on a range of
themes from technical delivery, development of dramatic works, music and dance.
Already this year 30 local children have signed up to a summer school (Act Up) to create and produce their own piece of work with two professional artists.
Other engagement work with local schools has included professional masterclasses and ‘meet the cast and creatives’ sessions as part of the Two production in October; workshops with the Muddy Choir in November; and, in May, school children will be working with the professionals from Teechers to explore the script, dialect and changes in education over time.
Lumiere is the UK’s largest light festival and in 2017, the art installation ‘For the Birds’ by Simeon Nelson, Cosmoscope, and, a collective of artists involved more than 700 primary school pupils from 25 schools across the county. They took part in art and science workshops before visiting the festival. Education and community outreach work will be a key part of this year’s Lumiere too – the tenth anniversary edition of the popular festival.
Returning to the music theme, our annual BRASS festival runs educational activities every year. Last year, school workshops gave 13,500 youngsters across the county a taste of how exciting brass music can be. As well as offering children the chance to play instruments, the workshops provided insights into different cultures and challenged preconceptions of brass music.
DCC’s cultural portfolio, just some of which is outlined above, plays an immensely important role in the work we do to broaden the experiences of the county’s children and raise their aspirations.