Music Matters Bicester
We received funding from Youth Music to improve the musical offer for young people in Bicester and surrounding areas and to diversify and improve the programme we were able to offer. Through a range of tasters, workshops and regular sessions we offered opportunities in rock and pop, folk, DJing, percussion, and songwriting. Music was included as part of our sessions introdusing 4-7 year olds to the arts, and sessions were offered as part of projects for vulnerable young people experiencing challenges including mental health and school refusal. We also provided on to one support, shared video workshops online during the pandemic lockdown and provided performance opportunities.
The project included a gig committee for young people to learn how to organise live performances. This included opportunities to design promotional material, select acts, technical support, venue operations on the day, as well as the chance to perform. The young people produced two amazing gigs; one online in July 2021 and a live local music night in March 2022.
Cocoon: Lets Get Accessible!
Cocoon was our inclusive youth action team for young people who are interested in using their creativity to make Bicester a safe and accessible space for all. Made possible by the support of a Co-op Foundation #iwill Community Spaces grant, this project engaged with the wider community and participated in artist led workshops, to create artwork which aimed to encourage conversations about inclusivity. The group were passionate about championing the rights of the LGBTQ+ community and those with hidden and less visible disabilities.
The participants created artworks, collected opinions from peers and the wider community, designed and produced social media posts, and created a awareness raising booklet and sticker. The project culminated in an exhibition showcasing their work and ideas in Spring 2022.
Soul of Bicester Choir
Soul of Bicester Choir was our inclusive and intergenerational community choir aimed at bringing people together and use singing to provide social opportunities and reduce isolation. It harnessed the wellbeing benefits of communal singing and created contacts and friendships across our community. The project was funded by National Lottery Awards for All, which allowed us to train two emerging choir leaders to lead the group as well as install theatre lighting to create a performance space. The project worked with a group of local musicians and a neighbouring choir to put on a Christmas Concert in December 2019 as the first community performance in the new space.
Whilst the choir aimed to continue after the funded project, this was just getting off the ground when the coronavirus pandemic hit, but we hope to revisit the idea of social singing when funds allow.
Kick Arts 4 Health
The Kick Arts 4 Health programme ran over 12 weeks throughout the summer term of 2019, delivered at OYAP over a full day out of school. It offered vulnerable primary-aged learners from Bicester and the surrounding areas the opportunity to take part in weekly arts sessions and take part in mindfulness activities. The young people were referred for a variety of reasons including low self-esteem, Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD, challenging behaviour, difficulties in communication and poor mental health. The group took part in workshops with visiting artists, tried gardening, and were led in guided mediation, and finished with an exhibition of their work for a specially invited audience.
The young people took part in wellbeing questionnaires throughout the project from which we observed significant impact on their mental health. By the final week they were able to play all together, took pride in their work, and demonstrated passion and enthusiasm when sharing their creativity with adults who attended the exhibition.
Museum of Kindness
The Museum of Kindness was a partnership project between OYAP and Oxfordshire Museum Services in which young people worked together with arts and heritage professionals to create a pop up museum exploring Kindness in Bicester Town centre. The project ran for 4 week over the 2017 summer holidays and aimed to challenge young people to think about kindness in new ways while gaining heritage and arts based skills.
Over 130 audience members passed through the museum, looking at the range of objects on display, discussing the complex nature of kindness with the young team, contributing to the ongoing reflective activities taking place across the space, and adding to a final tapestry artwork.
I am BoB
The Positive Activities Fund awarded our Youth of Bicester group funding to work on a new project, I Am BoB. The group were passionate about bringing together a wide range of arts forms and creativity, and aimed to bring the community together through getting to know the people who live, work, and socialise in Bicester. They combed the streets of the town, talking to strangers about their lives, collecting fun anecdotes, memories and insightful tales.
Inspired by "Humans of New York" the group published a book, "I Am BoB", that includes photos and stories told by the interesting people of Bicester. Each story is presented in their book, which was released in April 2015.