Collaboration is the way forward in performing arts

Wac Arts,  4 May 2018

Economic pressure and competition for funding can make it difficult for arts organisations to find the time, money and resources to deliver the results they want. But Wac Arts believes that working together is one of the best ways to overcome these hurdles.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” Helen Keller
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” Helen Keller

Wac Arts is a North London based arts charity which offers innovative, inclusive and fun Performing Arts and Media programmes to young people. We have always been a huge advocate of collaborative working. It has been the approach that has helped us provide an exciting range of activities and performing arts training for children and young people.  

In March 2017, Wac Arts were awarded the Camden Council Contract for Short Breaks for three years which has been funding our after school and weekend clubs where young people engage in arts, media, and inclusive sport activities in a safe surrounding.

We partnered with KIDS and PACE to secure this funding for our organisations so that we could, together, support young people to develop new life skills, grow in confidence and most importantly, have fun in a safe and supportive environment. KIDS have just moved into the Wac Arts building as Wac Arts is filling the Old Town Hall with organisations that share our ethos and make for an even stronger and more valuable partnership.

Supporting young people

This isn’t the first collaboration for Wac Arts - partnerships and collaborations have always been in the soul of the organisation. Knowing the benefit and power of combining knowledge and resources, Wac Arts makes the most of working with other organisations where possible.

The need for efficiency, effectiveness, and the desire to achieve something impeccable has led to the acceptance of collaboration on a much broader level. 

We are proud to have been working with Upswing for more than three years now. Upswing, a contemporary circus group, delivers a special assessed module in Aerial on the three year Diploma in Professional Musical Theatre course at Wac Arts. It has also collaborated with Wac Arts in the past to deliver InFlight, an aerial training programme funded by Arts Council England, to bring Aerial skills to young people completely free of charge!

From our partnership with Upswing to create the ingenious InFlight programme to our work with another recent partner, Strongback Productions, to deliver holiday drama programmes for the young people, Wac Arts has always supported the idea that collaboration can act as a creative hub in which young people build confidence, artists connect, and other arts and cultural organisations thrive.

Easing economic pressure

Over recent years, collaborative working has been widely appreciated and adopted by a number of non-profit arts organisations. With the ever-increasing economic pressures on charities and as funding continues to be extremely competitive, especially within the arts, there is a strain on charities trying to run large projects independently.

The need for efficiency, effectiveness, and the desire to achieve something impeccable has led to the acceptance of collaboration on a much broader level. Understanding and embracing the benefits of collaboration is key to a project’s success.  

Understanding and embracing the benefits of collaboration is key to a project’s success.  

Collaboration is one solution that can help all organisations, but especially arts charities working to produce innovative arts programmes for young people and to fulfil their artistic mission with limited financial resource. These organisations can work with other non-profit organisations, communities, businesses to reach a solution that reflects positive outcomes for the both the contributors.

The social benefit

Collaborations in the charity sector have been prominent since the late noughties.  Back in 2009, the West End announced a unique partnership with Mousetrap Theatre Projects. For every 100 tickets sold through West End website, the company decided to fund the purchase of one ticket for Mousetrap Theatre Projects.

As an estimate, close to 1000 young people are given the opportunity to attend outstanding West End productions each year, including the young people from Wac Arts. These trips to theatre not only help young people build interest in performing arts but also enhance their literary knowledge, appreciation of the arts and opportunities to have social and cultural experiences.

It gives give young people a healthy environment to connect and share their views and thoughts on different subjects. These opportunities through the traditional school system are becoming less dominant as the focus moves away from arts to academia.

According to research, young people who attended live performances of plays like Hamlet and A Christmas Carol scored higher on the study’s tolerant measure compared to those who read the books. They were also able to recognise and appreciate better what other people think and feel. This example brings to light not only the new opportunities for organisations looking for successful collaborations with charities, but also the wonderful outcomes benefiting the masses.

Collaboration improves accessibility

Collaboration is the way forward to bridge the gap between what an organisation would what want to do and what they can actually do. It can also to eliminate the logistic barriers of training young people with disabilities. Wac Arts embraces the potential that is created in collaborative partnerships and recognises when friends collaborate in exciting ways.

The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama has been partnering with Access All Areas, a learning disability charity, to deliver a Performance Marking Diploma since 2013. The project combines their knowledge of high quality performing arts training with Access All Area’s knowledge of working with adults with learning disabilities and is a collaboration that Wac Arts find inspiring. 

Emily Reddon, Arts Development Officer, London Youth says “We're already seeing the benefits of this collaborative approach. Collaboration helps organisations exchange knowledge and experience, share space and resources, challenge each other to work in innovative ways, and ultimately create incredible work.”

Non-profit organisations working solely to provide performing arts skills for young people with disabilities are on the back foot as the funders prefer to work with charities that have multiple areas of expertise.

“In April, we'll be bringing ten youth organisations together at one of our residential centres, Woodrow High House, for a weekend of creative activities, delivered in collaboration with Wac Arts. We're thrilled to be collaborating with Wac on this because we know that they will be bringing knowledge, experience and specialist skills to the table which will complement our work, and make it even stronger”

The need for collaboration is even more requisite for the charities working to deliver performing arts training to young people with disabilities. Non-profit organisations working solely to provide performing arts skills for young people with disabilities are on the back foot as the funders prefer to work with charities that have multiple areas of expertise, not just one.

Creating partnerships to secure funding, working together to produce top notch programmes, creating opportunities for young people, or sharing knowledge to reach large audiences looking for performing arts training are few of the examples how a non-profit organisation can collaborate with a partner to survive and thrive in today’s economic and political climate.

Wac Arts will continue to collaborate to create creative communities that learn, play and have an impact together.


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