Let the Dance Begin


Developing a community-based model of arts and well-being

Objective: to develop an innovative creative approach to enhancing individual and community well-being through a sustainable model of creative engagement at the heart of community living.

Let the Dance Begin Project aimed at locating creativity at the heart of Strabane community life deploying a team of professional artists and environmentalists in Education, Health and Business sectors now for the sixth year. Arts Care delivered the project in partnership with Pushkin Trust, the Public Health Agency, Children in Need, with support from the Western Health and Social Care Trust and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. The project provided high quality arts workshops that involved:

• Early Years Programmes
• Residential Care for Older People with ageing conditions such as Dementia, Parkinson’s Disease and Reduced levels of mobility
• Day Care facilities for Older People and adults with Learning and Physical Disabilities
• Local Schools and Colleges
• Dental Surgery
• Community groups
• Local businesses

The project culminated in the annual large-scale dance/drama/ music performance, a celebration walk through the town centre as well as a ‘pop up’ art studio gallery in one of the vacant business premises in the centre of the town.
The project during this period increased delivery into the rural areas Artigarvan, Donemana, Sion Mills and also into Derry City providing art workshops for young people and adults with learning, physical disabilities and sensory impairments.

Measure: The impact of the Let the Dance Begin Project was measured through the following tools and key performance indicators:
Participant Experience - a series of comprehensive questionnaires designed specifically to capture relevant data on each group and individual activity were implemented. The data secured from the questionnaires demonstrated different aspects of the participant experience and how the project impacted on the individual and group well-being. The questionnaires were supplemented by film and photographic documentation of the performances and other project activities. Analysis of the data revealed that there was a sustained high level of participant satisfaction accompanied by an increasing sense of ownership and legacy was reported amongst the project participants as a direct result of an increase in the engagement and deployment of local artists from different disciplines across the Western Health and Social Care Trust area.
Audience response - The audience who attended the performance at the Alley Theatre Strabane and the attendees at the art exhibitions completed post performance/exhibition opening questionnaires. The data from the questionnaires indicated that the finale performance and exhibition event continued to
draw new audience attendances which was very encouraging for the Alley Theatre venue in Strabane.

This project continues to be evaluated through Roehampton University, London and the sustained project is demonstrating positive outcome trends for regenerating the town as well as enhancing levels of well-being, self confidence and self-esteem amongst the residences of Strabane and surrounding areas.