Ballet, Birmingham and Me Sheila Galloway and Jonothan Neelands

Centre for Educational Development, Appraisal and Research
Ballet, Birmingham and Me
Sheila Galloway and Jonothan Neelands
Final Report to the Management Group for the
Birmingham Royal Ballet and Joint Birmingham Youth
Services Partnership Project
April 2011
Dr Sheila Galloway
Principal Research Fellow
Centre for Educational Development, Appraisal and Research
University of Warwick
Coventry CV4 7AL
Tel: +44 (0) 24 7652 2196
We thank all the people associated with this project who gave us their time
and thoughts between January 2009 and March 2011 as well as those who
welcomed us into Ballet Birmingham and Me sessions. These included ballet
classes, workshops, rehearsals, discussion groups and formal meetings at
Thorpe Street and in the youth centres. There are too many people – both
adults and young people - to thank everyone individually but we valued hugely
the chance to share some of your experiences.
We do want to say how much we have appreciated the candid and patient
approach of the Director for Learning and her attention to detail which
supported the evaluation throughout.
Our report focuses on professional learning and partnership. There was much
more happening in this project which was a joy to see and from which we can
all learn.
Ballet Birmingham and Me has been a ground-breaking project. It will have
an influence on the lives of the young people, youth workers, professional
dancers and educators who were involved and also on the conception and
design of future programmes.
Section A
Section B
Section C
Section D
Section E
Context and rationale
The project: context, rationale and development
The cultural and educational policy context
The changing economic and staffing position in this
Meeting the project’s aims
Opportunities for young people to take part in the
arts, develop skills and learn about the creative
Recording of learning outcomes and accreditation
for learning
Professional development opportunities for
Birmingham Royal Ballet staff and partner
Aspiration to excellence in all aspects and to
developing a model of good practice for creating
excellent art with young people.
Breaking down barriers and promoting ballet as an
activity for all
Increasing the profile and reputation of all partners
Further evaluation aims
Effectiveness in engaging young people in good
quality dance and arts opportunities
Impact on young people and how the development
of the project led to this
Impact on partner organisations including staff
knowledge and understanding of partners‟
professional expertise
Effectiveness of the governance structure and the
management and leadership structure
Style, quality and rigour of workshops and youth
Effectiveness of arrangements to involve young
people and young dancers in the management and
development of the project
Effectiveness of provision of accredited learning for
young people
Monitoring the project‟s development and on-going
formative assessment
Other issues relating to learning
A meeting of pedagogical paradigms
Key roles and strategies in making the project
successful from a pedagogical perspective
Final Reflections
Institutional learning, legacy and exit strategies
Factors supporting successful outcomes
Appendices Appendix 1
Appendix 2
Appendix 3
Appendix 4
A note on the evaluation process
Summary of data collection
Example of interview agenda
Project cost summary
List of
Table 1
Funders and timing of support
Table 2
Table 3
Main phases of activity
Key statistics
1 Ballet Birmingham and Me operated from mid 2008 to January 2011. Birmingham
Royal Ballet, partnered by Birmingham Youth Services (BYS) and Birmingham
Association of Youth Clubs (bayc), offered young people in the city the chance to
take part in the arts. The aims of the project are covered in (a) to (e) below. A prime
intention was that young people‟s views and ideas would help shape this project in
both its artistic development and its management. The University of Warwick team
of Dr Sheila Galloway and Professor Jonothan Neelands was appointed to evaluate
what was then termed the „Birmingham Royal Ballet and Joint Birmingham Youth
Services Partnership Project‟.
2 Staff and young people from five youth centres took part. These were chosen
because they were located in areas where participants would lack easy access to
cultural events. Very few of the young people had any history of attending ballet
classes. 141 young people participated and the adults involved included 33 youth
workers, 103 members of BRB staff and 25 freelance artists.
3 Funding came from the Big Lottery Fund, Dancing for the Games (formerly People
Dancing), Birmingham City Council Creative Futures and Inspire. In kind support
came from Birmingham Royal Ballet, Birmingham City Council, and Birmingham
Association of Youth Clubs. Allowing for contributions in kind, the project cost just
over £760,000.
4 The final aim was to produce a performance of Cinderella by young people and for
young people. This would be performed in December 2011, when Birmingham Royal
Ballet‟s new production of Cinderella would be premiered. Initial uncertainty over
funding meant that this could not be made explicit in the first months of Ballet
Birmingham and Me (BB&Me).
5 Alongside technical work in ballet classes, the project included drama workshops,
sessions with a range of practising artists to generate ideas, intensive auditioning
and training events and a demanding regime of rehearsals in autumn 2010. BYS
organised events such as a team building day and a young people‟s evaluation
6 Young people could work for Arts Award accreditation and 40 of them achieved this
at Bronze level. One gained a Silver award. About 30 gained an ASDAN award at
Bronze level.
7 A Youth Artistic Board of 17 young people was created: this was a major strength
of the project.
8 Participants had three opportunities to perform publicly to invited audiences. These
were, in BRB‟s Patrick Centre, Still Life: A Celebration (June 2009) and Cyrano:
Sharing of Work (December 2009). The culmination of the project was Cinderella,
performed by 59 young people at The Hippodrome in December 2010.
9 BB&Me operated with a Steering Group of senior representatives of the partner
organisations. It had a Management Group, an Operations Group, an Artistic Team
and a Youth Artistic Board. The core youth workers had separate scheduled
meetings to address specific issues.
10 The cultural and educational policy context in the years before BB&Me gave a
national commitment to arts organisations like BRB encouraging outreach work with
disadvantaged communities. It also highlighted complex cultural activity. Major
organisations worked to combine excellence and access. Usually this happened
through school- based projects, but BB&Me was unusual in choosing to create a
partnership with bayc and BYS. This brought its own challenges and rewards.
11 The economic situation at this time meant that there was much uncertainty.
Initially this was whether sufficient funds would be secured to meet the project‟s
aims. Secondly, BYS underwent a complete reorganisation and all youth workers
were aware that stringent job cuts were imminent. Changes at bayc resulted in a
redefinition of this organisation‟s mission. BRB (funded in 2008-2009 68% from
public funds) was able to sustain momentum in this project even when partner
organisations were threatened with cuts and job losses to come as part of the local
authority cutbacks ahead of and after the Government‟s Comprehensive Spending
Review of October 2010.
12 The project met its six defined aims as follows.
a) Young people were offered opportunities to take part in the arts, develop skills
and learn about the creative industries. The skills acquired were certainly
essential ballet techniques but also many other areas of performance
capability and presentation. They learned to concentrate in class, understand
team work in this context, became committed to arriving for workshops and
rehearsals, and talked about their growing self esteem. They gained
confidence in communicating with other young people and adults, both those
involved in the project and external to it, including media correspondents.
They learned about the creative industries mainly though the innumerable
informal learning opportunities they encountered showing how various
departments of a major arts company function to present a new production.
b) Learning outcomes were formally accredited with the support of the Arts
Awards Advisor and youth workers. Despite the challenge of getting so many
through the award which was not familiar to most youth workers, 40 young
people gained an Arts Award at Bronze level and one gained a Silver award.
About 30 young people gained a Bronze ASDAN Award.
c) Both BRB staff and youth workers had many and varied professional
development opportunities. See (i) below.
d) BB&Me sought and achieved excellence in almost all its activities, giving
young people a powerful example of collaboration, telling role models and
unrivalled opportunities. The partners together worked to combine the
Company‟s high performance standards with the commitment to inclusion
which was at the centre of the project. Birmingham Youth Service and
Birmingham Association of Youth Clubs worked to ensure that the young
people were prepared and able to cope with the project as it progressed. The
route taken was singular to BB&Me, but some features of the model as it
developed clearly encouraged success and may inform other organisations.
These are summarised in Section B4 of the report.
e) BB&Me broke down barriers to attendance and participation and promoted
ballet for all, most obviously by issuing participants with free tickets for
performances at The Hippodrome. More importantly, it encouraged young
people with no experience of ballet to devote their free time over many
months to the project. Few young men were recruited at the start but BB&Me
provided a platform for them to address gender stereotypes in a positive way
and in this the project was successful.
The profile and reputation of all partners was increased, publicly through the
attention of the local and regional media, and also through personal, local
authority and community contacts, through „Celebration‟ events and by the
production of a DVD. BRB‟s production values applied to the final
performance of Cinderella. The young people had access to dancers of
international standing and the resources of a major national arts organisation.
Youth workers provided a strong and supportive framework throughout the
In addition to the above, this evaluation addresses specific questions about the
way in which the project operated.
BB&Me was very successful at engaging young people in good quality dance
and arts opportunities. It was especially effective in the ways in which artists,
youth workers and participants helped young people with special educational
needs to play a full part in the rehearsals and the performance at The
Hippodrome of Cinderella. This cannot be said of all youth arts projects.
h) There was a strong impact on the young people taking part. The evidence
comes from their continued attendance over many months, their
steadfastness during the less exciting phases, their increasing engagement
with the project, and their wholehearted commitment and energy during the
final rehearsals. The BYS evaluation and young people‟s comments on the
project‟s Facebook page show the profound effect on some participants.
Adults close to these young people have noted how they have developed as
has the evaluation team. Youth work supports and nurtures young people in
many ways, but one adult involved noted how this project had given the
chance of “reaching for the stars”.
Among partner organisations, BB&Me generated a massive development of
staff knowledge and respect for partners‟ expertise. The report considers this
in terms of development across organisations, development for Youth Service
and bayc staff, development for dancers/choreographers, development for
other BRB staff. This complex project has been outstanding in this respect:
we comment separately on the merging of different pedagogic styles.
The various decision-making groups were not all in place in the first months
but they became essential as the project developed and more varied activities
and tasks came on stream. From the outset the commitment and vision of
senior managers was crucial. In the later stages to ensure that the project
would „deliver‟ as planned, it was mainly the Management Group and the
Operations Group which became the hub of forward movement. The Chair of
the Management Group, the Director and staff of the Department for Learning
and the Project Manager all played significant roles over a long period in
championing and facilitating the project. The youth workers and officers from
the central team played a part both formally and informally across the city.
k) The style, quality and rigour of workshops and youth work was impressive
(see also Galloway and Neelands, 2010). No compromises were made for an
easy life. Our report records that there were sessions which were not
especially uplifting but overall the input for participants was of a very high
quality. This will have encouraged them to raise their personal commitment
and increase their own efforts. These young people experienced many
sessions led by expert practitioners from the arts and professional dancers of
standing. They were also supported locally by very experienced youth
A notable success of BB&Me was that the young people were indeed directly
involved in the management and delivery of the project. This did not happen
in the first year, but during 2010 the Youth Artistic Board became an active
component of the project. Some young people excelled in media
presentation but all contributed in a mature and increasingly authoritative
way, making a bridge between their friends in the youth centres and the
adults who were ultimately responsible for the project‟s artistic and
operational management.
m) The project had to meet the requirements of several different funders in
different ways. From February 2010 BYS also spent time recording the
young people‟s experience. Our evaluation has been able to look across the
project over its duration. Project updates for the Management Group have
highlighted emerging issues and the Interim Report gave an analysis of
progress at a turning point in the project. Appendices 1 and 2 explain more
about the evaluation process.
13 In March 2010 the Management Group noted two areas to be given attention in
the evaluation. We address issues concerning continuing professional development
most fully in Section C of the report. Matters to do with partnership work come up at
almost every point so comment is dispersed throughout the report. We bring
together these two areas in Section D which discusses the partnership in terms of
pedagogies evident in BB&Me and the strategies which helped its success. Partners‟
aims, working cultures and pedagogy clearly differed (Galloway and Neelands,
2010). Yet they found ways, despite continuing economic pressures and threats to
youth service jobs, to sustain this remarkable project and to provide a performance of
which all involved could be proud.
Section A Context and rationale
A1 The project: context, rationale and development
This project involved Birmingham Royal Ballet working in partnership with
Birmingham Youth Service and Birmingham Association of Youth Clubs, its aims
being to:
offer opportunities for young people to take part in the arts to develop their
skills and learn about the creative industries
ensure that learning outcomes are recorded and accreditation for learning is
offered where appropriate
provide professional development opportunities for Birmingham Royal Ballet
Staff and Joint Youth Services staff
aspire to excellence in all aspects of the project, and develop a model of good
practice for creating excellent art with young people
break down barriers to attendance and participation and promote ballet as an
activity for all
increase the profile and reputation of all partners.
Initial planning from the spring of 2008 involved senior staff at each organisation.
Their vision set the project in train, yet in prioritising young people‟s involvement,
they left open many decisions for future participants.
Birmingham Royal Ballet‟s (BRB) Department for Learning has wide experience in
outreach community work and in working with schools. Two previous projects
provided a basis for planning this one. Safahr, Tales of a Journey, followed by Ballet
Hoo, a high profile project initiated by Channel 4 in 2006. Reviewing that experience,
BRB staff and partners felt that the next project should, like Ballet Hoo, focus on
young people who do not have easy access to arts opportunities.
However this time the Company aimed to work more directly with its local partners
and to incorporate the views of young participants in shaping the project, in both its
artistic development and its management:
The idea came from a sketch on flip chart paper. We were hoping for what
opportunities we could offer, for young people, for ourselves, and for the
Youth Service.
(BB&Me Choreographic Director)
Recalling the earlier project, „which was wonderful‟, this speaker recalled that „I
wanted something different in feel‟. Ballet Hoo had been „very directed‟, but
„this project had a different set of values behind it‟. Asked in February 2011 what
were the three most successful features of BB&Me, the Choreographic Director
pointed to:
The creative input of the young people
Choice and empowerment; decision-making especially through the Youth
Artistic Board
Care and compassion: „They were stronger for each other‟.
This evaluation project began in December 2008 (with the contract signed in March
2009). The evaluation brief was to:
assess whether the project has been successful in achieving its aims
identify its effectiveness in engaging young people in good quality dance and
arts opportunities
discuss the impact on young people and how the development of the project
leads to this impact
discuss the impact on the partner organisations, including the development of
staff knowledge and understanding of partners‟ professional expertise
discuss the effectiveness of the governance structure, and the management
and leadership structure
assess the style, quality and rigour of workshops and youth work
asses the effectiveness of arrangements to fully involve young people and
young dancers in the management and development of the project
assess the effectiveness of the provision of accredited learning opportunities
for young people
continually monitor the development of the project and provide ongoing
formative assessment
For clarity we have retained the above headings in Sections B and C of this report. It
was agreed that this was to be a qualitative evaluation and Appendix 1 explains more
about the approach taken; Appendix 2 summarises the data collection.
An impressive feature of Ballet, Birmingham and Me was that it successfully gained
additional funds once the project was under way. Each separate grant had its own
purpose and timescale. However, the project as a whole depended on the financial
support it gained from the Big Lottery Fund and Dancing for the Games. (The latter
is part of the West Midlands Culture programme for London 2010. It was funded by
Legacy Trust UK, Arts Council England West Midlands and Advantage West
Midlands.) The project would not have happened without the funding which they
BRB‟s Director of Development saw the successful generation of external funding as
a major step for the Department and the Company. These are summarised in Table
Additional to these substantial grants, BYS staff and young people gained funds for a
trip to London including tickets to see Sister Act and for the final celebratory ball at
the Council House in January 2011 a month after the performance of Cinderella.
The evaluation team was able to track development over a two-year period, see how
different parties became involved and what the project meant for the organisations
and individuals. This was an aspirational and very complex project. However it
could not be planned in detail at the start because:
not all the funding needed was in place, so early stages of the project were
necessarily provisional
the young people had yet to be recruited so the aim of developing a channel
for their contribution to decision-making could not be precisely planned, and
though the intention was to build up to a production of Cinderella by young
people and for young people, to be created in parallel with the new production
of Cinderella by BRB‟s Artistic Director David Bintley, it was still some months
before the Company‟s own production was confirmed and this intention could
be made explicit.
Table 1 Funders and timing of support
Funding body
Birmingham Royal
Birmingham City
The Big Lottery
Dancing for the
Birmingham City
Council Creative
Duration of
Duration of project
Main purpose of
Staff and facilities
Sum granted
Duration of project
Staff and facilities
July 10-July11
Project costs
Not funder /value
added branding
January 10-Dec10
Project costs
Still Life
Jan09- Dec09
In kind support
Birmingham Youth
In kind support
Association of
Youth Clubs
Source: BRB Finance Department April 2011
Setting out on this partnership project was therefore an act of faith and required a
high degree of flexibility from all partners (Galloway and Neelands, 2010). The
company was also working with partners in a way which differed from the previous
large-scale projects. From the outset support from senior management was crucial
and that was given by all partners and evident in the project‟s original Steering
Group. However in the first year, at the operational level in the youth centres, BRB
staff needed time to understand how each youth centre worked and youth workers
needed time to understand how the company saw this project developing.
Table 2 below summarises the broad phases of activity from late 2008 to early 2011.
These involved both core people and also professionals and freelancers brought in
for short periods at different stages. Table 3 details the overall pattern of activity in
key statistics showing that 141 young people participated. Adults involved included
33 youth workers, 103 members of BRB staff and 25 freelance artists.
Table 2 Main phases of activity
Pre-Still Life
Those involved
Original planning group.
Senior staff from partner
developmental workshop
October 2008
60 young people at 5 youth
Youth workers, BRB
dancers & musicians
BRB learning Dept staff.
First young people‟s focus
group meetings.
Still Life at the
Penguin Cafe
2009 Jan-June
2009 Sept-Dec Youth workers and drama
practitioners at 5 youth
Artistic Director and
Director of Choreography
Royal Ballet
Thorp Street
5 week
workshops &
rehearsals at
each of 5 youth
Final day of
rehearsals &
performance to
200 people at
BRB‟s Patrick
workshops at 5
youth centres
relating to
„Sharing of Work‟
at the Patrick
preparation work:
Some work for
Arts Award
2010 Jan-July
Young people at 5 youth
centres. Youth workers,
freelance arts practitioners
(drama, dance,
photography, physical
Artistic Director.
Youth Arts Board (YAB) set
up, meets regularly.
Feedback on plot
generation to young
people, youth workers.
Story outline created by
Artistic Director.
Carousel of
workshops at 5
youth centres
with 6 artists
visiting each.
YAB meetings at
BRB offices.
workshop and
2010 August
6 days
Young people, youth
workers, youth officers,
BRB Learning Dept staff,
dancers/Artistic Director,
choreographers, Costume
Dept staff.
6 intensive days
over 2 weeks at
BRB studios to
synopsis from
phase. Roles
announced at
Participants‟ role
preferences assessed by
Those involved
artistic team making
casting decisions.
youth centres in
personal letters
BRB Thorp
Nearby youth
centre for some
Ballet classes,
Arts Awards
Build-up to 2
nights weekly.
Ballet classes,
October half-term
3 intensive days.
Final rehearsals
stage calls,
2010 Sept Oct
Young People, youth
workers, youth officers,
BRB Dept of Learning staff,
choreographers, freelance
instructors, Artistic Director,
Arts Award Advisor.
2010 Nov-Dec
Young people, youth
workers, youth officers,
BRB Dept of Learning staff,
choreographers, Artistic
Director, Arts Award
BRB Thorp
Street studios.
Elmhurst School
of Ballet.
Patrick Centre.
Showing of film.
Masked ball.
2010 Jan-Feb
All involved plus invited
guests from several
Patrick Centre,
The Council
Table 2 gives just a glimpse of the painstaking process which ended in the BB&Me
performance of Cinderella on 7th December 2010 at the Hippodrome to an invited
audience of family, friends, supporters, funders and regional arts and community
representatives. The culmination of much work from all the adults and young people
involved, this evening was a resounding success and a credit to all involved. This
report recognises the powerful effect of such events. The young people‟s euphoric
Facebook comments around the time of the performance testify to the effect on them
at that time and their contributions to the BYS young people‟s evaluation day in
February 2011 confirm how their experience had a major effect on many of them.
The documentary DVD of the project conveys the aspiration, hard work and rewards
which both young people and adults felt.
However we do not over-emphasise the success of the production alone because we
have sought to see this event in perspective and to understand the very complex
processes at work as the foundations were laid and in the two years leading up to
that success. For instance, the performance in May 2009 of Still Life at the Penguin
Cafe: A Celebration was a significant staging post early on. Without that, it is hard to
imagine how participants and youth workers could have engaged with the more
ambitious and demanding Cinderella production.
During the various phases of the project, many people were involved, as the
following summary shows:
Table 3 Key statistics
Number of young people enrolled
(this does not include one off attendees for open days /trial sessions)
Number of Days worked
Number of sessions delivered
Number of different events
Number of attendees
Number of Youth Work staff Birmingham Youth Services
Number of Youth Work staff Birmingham Association of Youth
Number of BRB staff
Number of Freelance artists
Number of Training sessions
Number training session attendees
Number of attendees with a disability
Theatre attendees
This does not include the participant evaluation session or celebration event run by BYS
These figures exclude students from a local FE College who were involved in December 2010 working
on hair and make-up for the performance.
Source: BRB Department for Learning Feb 2011.
A 2 The cultural and educational policy context
In the years before this project there was under the previous government an
unprecedented increase in funding for cultural activity, often to support social
inclusion, cohesion and other social agendas. Flagship programmes such as
Creative Partnerships and the targeted funding for mainstream cultural organisations‟
outreach work with disadvantaged populations supported the link between grassroots
cultural activity and the importance of creativity to the UK‟s economic growth.
Participation in cultural activity was claimed to have a wide range of personal and
social outcomes including developing local entrepreneurism and social enterprise in
communities with high levels of unemployment and other challenges.
The BB&Me project needs to be considered in the context of this cultural policy and
the funding opportunities it created, which at the time were weighted towards
engaging young people in cultural activities with leading cultural organisations as well
as to funding other kinds of work with young people in formal education. One thread
in this policy of widening participation to arts and other creative activities was to do
with encouraging leading cultural organisations offering complex cultural activity to
focus on accessibility to the classical arts in particular. The former New Labour
Minister for the DCSF, Tessa Jowell offered this rationale:
Complex cultural activity is not just a pleasurable hinterland for the public, a
fall back after the important things – work and paying tax – are done. It is at
the heart of what it means to be a fully developed human being. Government
should be concerned that so few aspire to it, and has a responsibility to do
what it reasonably can to raise the quantity and quality of that aspiration
(DCMS, 2004, p.2)
Jowell‟s concern was that there tends to be a socially recognised hierarchy of the
arts in which ballet, opera and other classical and complex arts have become
associated with a social hierarchy of consumers. Jowell recognised that without
educational interventions designed to inspire, encourage and teach young people to
appreciate and get involved this situation could not be remedied.
In Government and the Value of Culture (DCMS 2004), Jowell called for a change of
direction within the political debates about culture and argued that „by accepting
culture is an important investment in personal social capital we begin to justify that
investment on culture‟s own terms‟(p.16). Her suggestion of valuing culture on its
own terms was reinforced in the 2008 policy document Supporting Excellence in the
Arts, in which Brian McMaster argued for reinstating „excellence‟ in cultural policy
For many of the leading national cultural organisations the grail for educational work
became to combine access and excellence: to open the doors wider to underrepresented audiences but also to ensure that the highest standards of artistic
excellence were maintained. This emphasis needed also to ensure that young
audiences could be introduced to the demands made by complex cultural activity and
learn how to make and appreciate the classical arts in particular.
The Royal Shakespeare Company, Birmingham Royal Ballet, the Tate, Royal Opera
House. London Philharmonic Orchestra and others have been actively engaged in
promoting excellence and inclusion, often with disadvantaged groups of young
people in challenging circumstances. More often than not these projects have been
brokered with school and other educational institutions and offered as a curricular or
extra-curricular entitlement.
What is distinctive about BB&Me is that the partnership was with the Youth Services
in Birmingham and located in youth centres and clubs rather than in schools. It was a
long term commitment to the young people involved. This is still a relatively new idea
for cultural organisations like Birmingham Royal Ballet which are most used to
shorter day or half day engagement. It ran for two years and involved three
performance projects so that there were occasional performance opportunities as
well as other activities at intervals to keep the young people engaged with BRB.
One consequence of strategizing long term partnership over shorter term contact is
that the project focused significant resources on a limited number of young people in
order to work with them intensively over time, rather than spreading these resources
to reach a greater number of young people but for shorter periods. However, it is
unlikely that the Cinderella project in particular could have been achieved without the
depth of engagement and training over time. The project was successful in bringing
young people together from across the city and a key pedagogical value was that the
project encouraged young people from different centres to meet and mix and
discover each other‟s differences and landscapes.
A 3 The changing economic and staffing position in this period
This period saw marked recessionary retrenchment during 2009, uncertainty around
the time of the General Election in May 2010 and, in winter 2010-11, severe cutbacks
in Local Authority workforces. Birmingham Royal Ballet is funded largely from public
funds, amounting to 68% of total income in 2008-2009, the year when this project
started. This included £1,111,800 from Birmingham City Council and £7,987,147
from Arts Council England as a Regularly Funded Organisation. (BRB Annual
Report 2008-2009, pp 27-30). With commercial activities and donations, total income
was £13,399,444. Early commitment to the project was supported by additional
funding secured as it developed (Table 1).
There were no significant staffing changes among BRB staff who were involved. The
Project Manager appointed in January 2009 stayed in post until just after the
December 2010 performance. At different stages, staff from the Department for
Learning were brought in along with BRB musicians and dancers/instructors to
deliver ballet classes, workshops and rehearsals in youth centres and at BRB‟s
Thorp Street studios.
Partner organisations faced unsettled times. The original senior people from both
BYS and bayc moved from their roles in 2009. At bayc a new Chief Executive and a
major review of the organisation resulted in a less „hands on‟ approach than had
been envisaged originally. The Youth Arts Development Officer remained in post but
organisational change meant less opportunity to engage directly at grassroots level.
Instead, in line with its revised purpose, bayc provided (part-time) office space and
continued support to the BB&Me project manager.
During 2009 Birmingham Youth Service encountered first, staff sickness absence,
secondly imminent job cuts and thirdly major reorganisation within the Youth Service.
A new Deputy Head of Youth Service came into post with responsibility to support
this project. Late in 2009 two staff from the BYS Central Youth Services were
brought in to work in tandem with youth workers from the five youth centres, to liaise
with the project‟s Management Group and Operations Group and to support the
Youth Arts Board. This stabilised and helped sustain momentum, though youth
workers remained uncertain about the future of jobs in the youth service. The
financial commitment of BYS to BB&Me had to be reassessed around this time.
In fact, the core group of six or seven experienced youth workers located at five
youth centres remained in post for most of the project. Only at one centre were there
significant changes. There were many times when BRB staff and youth workers had
to reconcile their very different approaches to a situation, but this core group proved
a factor in the success of Ballet Birmingham and Me because they could bring the
learning and rethinking of the early stages into the later months when many new
people were involved and everyone was under more pressure. By then they were
also at ease in working alongside BRB staff and were familiar with the Thorp Street
environment, having spent many evenings on the premises with young people at
classes, rehearsals and arts award sessions.
It is notable that the project was able to continue without compromising either the
process of learning and development nor the quality of the final production, despite
continuing uncertainty about youth service jobs and economic pressures. When the
situation was especially doubtful for youth service staff, and when its financial
contribution had to be reassessed, BRB was able to provide security and sustain
momentum. A small cultural organisation with a modest budget or short-term horizon
would have found it difficult to do this.
One example which illustrates this emerged only part-way through the project and
demonstrates how the standing of a renowned organisation is a strength. Agreement
was needed to use Prokofiev‟s score for Cinderella in an abridged form. To resolve
this, a representative of Boosey and Hawkes visited the musician‟s grandson abroad
to negotiate the use of the music by Birmingham Royal Ballet for educational
purposes. For a smaller arts organisation, this could have proved an insurmountable
Section B Meeting the project’s aims
In this section we address the aims set out in 2008 (see Section A).
B. 1 The project sought to offer opportunities for young people to take part in
the arts to develop their skills and learn about the creative industries
Skills development
Few participants had any real ballet training. Some enjoyed other dance genres but
in most cases the skills gained were developed through BB&Me from almost nothing.
As well as ballet technique, the young people mastered other skills, as described by
the choreographers in August 2010 (below). The first speaker notes that his group
had been working on a really hard pattern and, just as professionals need to help
themselves through difficult sequences, so:
Dancer C: There is a way, beside dancing, there is a way – you know – little
tricks of doing it: like putting your foot in the right direction first – and those
kind of things. You don‟t necessarily need to be able to dance to know them.
Besides dancing, there‟s a stagecraft that needs to be taught as well.
Dancer E: There‟s a logic to it as well.
Dancer C: There‟s a logic and a stagecraft and special awareness and for
me it is more important at the moment than actual technique.
These BRB dancers were very aware that choreography for BB&Me would need
Dancer F: We‟re working with a story and there‟s so many different sort of
things going on in the story and each scene is different... Sometimes it might
be literally coming in, working out some strict choreography and doing it and
other times we‟ll go, „OK, certain things in the story need to happen right now.
They‟re not all going to be expressed through dance. You have to sort of do
acting and so on.
Among members of the Youth Artistic Board, in BYS‟s young people‟s 2010
evaluation, and in their reactions after the performance, participants spoke mostly of
personal development through their increased confidence and self-esteem, and
social benefits in the ability to work with others from different parts of the city and
make good friends among them. They valued the dance skills and ability to work in a
team to achieve a performance which they realised was remarkable.
From our observations we saw the growing ability to express views in appropriate
ways in meetings with adults (Galloway and Neelands, 2010). The YAB particularly
gave a framework for young people not just to pass on arrangements „from above‟
but also to raise issues with the artistic director and others as in the YAB meeting of
Sept 2010.
This was very different from the initial notion that young people would attend
Management Group meetings. They were not ready for that in the first year of the
project and the first young people‟s focus groups did not develop the skills needed.
Once the YAB was in place, there was a purpose to their meetings in providing a link
between young people in the centres and the project management. We noted the
marked difference between the first focus group (February 2009) and the first YAB
group: by April 2010, these young people had experience and motivation as well as
strong support from both BRB and BYS.
They later gave competent presentations to BRB staff and friends, youth service staff
and project participants as well as radio and television interviews to explain the
purpose and their experience of the project.
The self esteem of all participants derived not only from such public opportunities but
also from recognition from friends and family too, like the young man who told the
YAB (September 2010) that they were confronting the stereotype of ballet not being
for boys, and that his mother was proud of him.
This project was about young people new to ballet developing dance skills. They
also developed other skills: social, organisational, creative, and much more.
Opportunities to learn about the creative industries: work experience
The intention was for this to happen partly through work experience placements with
BRB departments in 2010. The Company has experience of offering work
experience through schools and colleges, but the logistics of offering work
experience on a more personalised basis proved very demanding. It had to fit the
young person‟s schedule, allowing for school terms, exam periods and so on; it also
had to be acceptable to the technical or administrative department in the company
where staff might be preoccupied with getting a new production on stage or indeed
away on tour. Setting up personalised placements of this sort is quite different from
working with a school where one teacher is responsible for many students and there
is a regular system and timetable.
Initially it was thought that some young people who did not wish to perform might be
involved in technical areas prior to the December 2010 performance. However the
project necessarily concentrated increasingly on the date of the performance and
those who were performing were too busy in these weeks to have time or energy for
work experience. This proved difficult to organise also because all BRB staff and all
youth workers were working at full stretch in the weeks before December. For BRB
staff this was a pressurised time too because technical departments were
preoccupied with the Company‟s new production of Cinderella which premiered only
days before the young people‟s performance.
Three young people had in all nine days of work experience immediately after the
December performance. The offer to others remains open in 2011.
Opportunities to learn about the creative industries: informal learning
Though the intention to provide learning opportunities about the creative industries
was not met during the project period in the way that had at first been envisaged,
nevertheless young people had innumerable opportunities to learn about the industry
through exposure to different elements of the company and through seeing how it
functions. This was most evident during the final rehearsals.
Cast members were photographed and contributed their own items to the programme
prepared by BRB‟s Communications Department. They saw this distributed to the
Hippodrome audience. They realised how the costume department worked when
four members of staff working in pairs took a time-consuming 40 measurements from
each participant in August 2010 so as to have these on file for seamstresses to make
costumes later. They saw the costume designs and later marvelled at the
professional finish of their costumes. Where one or two individuals had initial
misgivings, they finally understood that the overall visual effect was what mattered
more than the individual. Filming the performance meant that each person could
later see how that costume had a part in the production as a whole. (These
costumes were later on public display at the „Made in Birmingham‟ exhibition.)
In 2009 professional musicians worked with the young people in the youth centres
and in 2010 for ballet classes and some rehearsals at Thorp Street. For the
production the BB&Me company was introduced to the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, BRB‟s
resident orchestra, and saw how it worked with the company and technical staff.
In ballet classes we observed how over time they gradually appreciated the need to
focus and avoid distraction. They learned from the choreographers about daily class
and the need to work as a team. One BRB dancer thought that this was valuable for
the Company because it helped people understand what the regime of a professional
dancer is.
The decision to include in the BB&Me Cinderella a pas de deux by principal dancers
appearing in the Company‟s new production provided another learning point. It
demonstrated the talent, training, skill and courage in performance of BRB
professionals. This was a neat counterpoint to the work young people were doing in
developing their sequences with the choreographers, where the dance had to be
shaped to the capacities of the young people. It was managed in a way which did
not undermine the achievement of the young people. Most choreographers took a
business-like approach in rehearsals and concentrated on the young people: they
had no chance to demonstrate what they themselves were capable of on stage.
(This came through seeing the BRB production.) The pas de deux was therefore a
telling demonstration of what a ballet career involves.
The stage manager gave the BB&Me company a clear introduction to being on stage
and in the wings, and they saw how the stage crew worked on set changes.
Rehearsals demonstrated the role of the lighting team. Waiting in windlowless
changing rooms and corridors before going into the restricted area of the wings
would dispel any unduly romantic ideas of what it entails to be a professional
Youth Artistic Board members had media training and all participants experienced
occasions when they were filmed rehearsing for regional television. Even the
business of entering and leaving the building and engaging with reception staff
should not be ignored because this is all part of acquiring the social skills to operate
in an adult working environment.
Some participants were more aware than others of the Company as an organisation.
On the evening of the performance, a group of girls coming back into the Thorp
Street building after a break went past a screen showing video clips about the
Company‟s production of Cinderella. One gestured at the screen and commented in
passing: „That‟s David Bintley‟. They moved on without further comment (7-12-10).
Because this was a long-term project, it gave opportunities between spring 2009 and
winter 2010-11 for these young people to get behind the glamour of the stage and
gain a more balanced view of the variety of work and the level of professionalism in
such a company. Though there was less structured work experience than envisaged
at the start, much will be gained from this informal learning. However, we should
note that at the end of the project there remained a doubt among some
choreographers as to whether every single participant had really appreciated the
remarkable good fortune of being given such access to an internationally renowned
dance company.
B 2 The project would ensure that learning outcomes were recorded and
accreditation for learning offered where appropriate
Arts Awards (Bronze level) were by the start of 2011 achieved by 40 young people,
with a few more still completing portfolios. One award was at Silver level. The Arts
Award supports young people who want to deepen their enjoyment within the arts,
build creative and leadership skills, and achieve a national qualification. These
awards certainly signal success but the process was not entirely trouble-free. Youth
workers are accustomed to helping young people gain accreditation but the Arts
Award was not the one most familiar to them. All core youth workers had training for
the Arts Award.
With such a large group to be entered, BRB felt that additional support would reduce
pressure on the youth workers so an Arts Award Advisor was engaged to work with
the young people during the evening sessions, in youth centres then at Thorp Street
during 2010. This was a complicated exercise: the Thorp Street evenings were
scheduled as half dance class or rehearsal and half Arts Award time. They took
place after a full day at school and during a period when many participants would be
completing course work for school GCSE or A levels. Moreover, some young people
were in any case really there to dance, so compiling a portfolio for a formal
accreditation was not necessarily very appealing to them.
The young people were also at different stages because those from youth centre 3,
with the largest group, was ahead of the other groups. The youth workers here had
realised that with so many taking part, they needed to get this under way early.
We return to this topic in Section C7.
B 3 The project would provide professional development opportunities for
Birmingham Royal Ballet Staff and Joint Youth Services staff.
For all groups, this project was a huge learning experience. Expertise was gained in
many areas. However this did not always happen in the ways which had initially
been foreseen. We discuss issues about professional development in Section C3
and discuss different pedagogical approaches in Section D.
B 4 The project aimed to aspire to excellence in all aspects of the project, and
to develop a model of good practice for creating excellent art with young
Aiming for excellence
The aspiration to excellence was there throughout. BRB wished to adhere to the
Company‟s regular production values. So, when there was uncertainty about the
Cyrano- related drama work by the five youth centres this was shown at the Patrick
Centre as a „sharing of work‟. This reduced the pressure on those presenting and
recognised the very limited time they had had to prepare.
In early 2010 the partners together faced an uneasy situation, even a „moment of
truth‟ about judgments of quality. BRB intended in the intensive/casting period in
August to ensure that the very best would be seen on stage. At the same time the
Company wanted to ensure inclusivity. BYS wanted young people to know that their
efforts were valued and they would not be disregarded because they might be seen
as not „good enough‟ technically. The solution from the partners was to arrive at a
position that would ensure that there were opportunities for all to reach their very best
standard of performance. This was a telling debate for those involved, and a critical
one, since everyone had to live with the decision and be prepared to justify it to the
young people (Management Group meeting May 2010).
This resolution was possible because the project had a timescale which had already
enabled partners to work out other difficulties without the end of the project being in
immediate prospect. The groundwork already done will undoubtedly have influenced
the approach to the casting process in August 2010 and the announcements to the
young people of their roles which were ultimately impeccable in style and an
excellent model for other initiatives.
It was striking also to see young people responding to the example of elite
professionals and their colleagues. This affected not only their increased
concentration in ballet classes. Some of them recognised that the young dancers
working with them were role models, as was evident from the September 2010 YAB
meeting, notes in the Cinderella programme, and BYS‟s 2011 evaluation.
One aspect of „excellence‟ is the ability of participants to set their own standards but
also to look beyond themselves to the collective endeavour:
I‟d worked with her quite closely to create the role. It was brilliant, her
managing to focus in herself. She was concentrating, muttering “I‟ve just got
to step up. Just keep going.”
Also the way some of them danced together, took care of each other, worked
as a team. The individual technical and performance journey of many of
them. I was very proud and it was very emotional. It‟s had an impact down
and through the Company.
(BB&Me Director of Choreography, February 2011)
A model of good practice for creating excellent art with young people
There can be no single generic model of good practice. It would be wrong to make
assumptions that the structures and practices which did work well for BRB and its
partners would automatically prove successful in another context. However great
forethought and commitment was given to planning this project and much attention to
detail was evident as it developed. Certain factors did contribute strongly to its
success. We would highlight the following:
Time taken by the project manager to become familiar with the five centres
and see how the youth workers at each operated.
The various phases and performance opportunities.
The blend of location with some activities taking place at youth centres and
others at BRB‟s premises giving both youth workers and young people a
chance to become familiar with this working environment before the pressure
of the final rehearsals.
The readiness of different parties to be flexible and to address awkward
issues as they arose.
The criteria for the „intensive‟ sessions in August 2010 and advice given to
participants to focus: „Try it out; Listen; Work as a team; Give ideas;
Suitability of the role; Take risks; Give it a go.‟ Youth workers contributed to
the final shape of the criteria and advice.
The casting process: participants completed a form giving their preferences
or hopes for the type of role they would like. We observed the artistic director
and the choreographic director carrying these reply sheets as they moved
around groups, watching how the young people worked in these sessions.
The exemplary format used for the casting announcements following the
„intensives‟ is discussed in Section C.
The commitment to ensuring that young people‟s views were influential and
the willingness to rethink the format for building these in. This is discussed
more fully in Section C.
Aspects of the project relating to governance etc are also discussed below.
An unexpected addition to the project was the offer from University College,
Birmingham to offer the skills of about 40 young people doing vocational courses in
hair and make up to work on the December 2010 production. This was valuable
practical experience for them to work with a prestigious company and to interpret the
professional design brief. It was also positive to have more young people involved
who were close in age to the participants. Here again, the flexibility to welcome
these young people into the production process was a very positive element, both for
BB&Me and for the college students.
One early decision concerned the artistic management of the project and whether the
Company should bring in external choreographers and „accept how they work‟
(BB&Me Director of Choreography, February 2011). Rather than this, BRB dancers
were engaged to work with the young people in the early phases (spring 2009) and in
the months leading up to the production (second half of 2010):
There were a lot of plusses from using people from BRB. There would be a
legacy. They would have created something here. The choreography would
be similar stylistically.‟
(BB&Me Director of Choreography)
B5 BB&Me sought to break down barriers to attendance and participation and
promote ballet as an activity for all.
Only time will tell whether the project has encouraged attendance by young people or
other groups. BB&Me Performances (June and December 2009 and December
2010) certainly brought into the Patrick Centre and the Hippodrome diverse
audiences with a pleasingly wide age range. Each was of course a benign audience
given free seats which came because of some connection with a participant.
Whether this will convert into future ballet-goers cannot be predicted. We would
speculate that for the 80 plus members of the Ballet Birmingham and Me project,
there will be almost no barrier, other than financial, to attending future ballet
performances at the Hippodrome.
Barriers to participation in dance have certainly been broached. Some of the young
people already had a lukewarm interest in dance. A very few had taken ballet
classes before their teenage years. Several had done sporadic street dance or
workshops at their youth centres or elsewhere, and some had performed at
community events. Others just enjoyed dancing in social contexts.
An on-the spot question from a youth officer to YAB members (Sept 2010) confirmed
that 80% of these young people would continue to dance after the project ended.
Some youth centres had been able to sustain and enhance interest in dance: Youth
centre 5 already had a dance group operating prior to the BRB project. Workers at
youth centre 3 booked additional dance sessions on evenings not allocated to BRB.
Regarding participation we note that consistent attendance for two nights weekly is
demanding during winter periods at a time when there are many school deadlines for
GCSEs or A Levels. Young people remained committed to participation at both their
own youth centre and at Thorp Street in the city centre. While a few had variable
attendance, there were still very few drop-outs.
Participants were given one free ticket each for performances at the Hippodrome of
the triple bill Pomp and Circumstance including Still Life at the Penguin Cafe (May
2009), Cyrano (November 2009) and Cinderella (November 2010). Separately, one
youth centre secured funds to organise a trip to London including a performance of
Sister Act.
In 2009, long before the possible Cinderella production had been announced, they
continued attending evening sessions and invited friends and family to see at the
Patrick Centre their very lively performance of Still Life at the Penguin Café: A
Celebration. In December 2009 they showed work relating to Cyrano. Even before
the performance of Cinderella at the Hippodrome, the young people had become
familiar with performance venues and some of the demands, pressures and joys of
putting on a production.
Such indicators do not however guarantee that the experience of these young people
will ensure future audiences for Birmingham Royal Ballet or indeed for any arts
organisation. Impact assessments are always controversial and the evaluation team
was not tasked to address the matter of future audiences. However, in breaking
down barriers, this project had a deep community aspect as well and in that it has
been very successful.
BB&Me took dancers, dance instructors and 25 professional artists in other art forms
out to youth centres in the city‟s „coolspots‟ where young people are not easily able to
access original, live cultural experiences. With back-up from local youth workers, the
project brought participants into the very centre of the city and gave them access to
superb resources (buildings and staff) at Thorp Street, Elmhurst and the
Hippodrome. In terms of opening doors and removing barriers to the world of ballet,
this project has, for these young people and for those close to them, done all that
could have been hoped for from those who initiated the project.
For the youth workers too, this has been an opportunity to learn about „behind the
scenes‟ in ways that may encourage them to join audiences in the future and to bring
others with them, whether personal friends, family, or the young people with whom
they work locally.
Some caution is still needed. Since they are already in their teenage years, and very
few had any prior ballet training, there is little likelihood of any of these young people
becoming professional ballet dancers. Some personal entries in the December
Cinderella programme provoked concern from some of the choreographers who
questioned their expectations and realism.
The challenge for the adults in this project is to support the young person who
gradually realises that the corps de ballet of an international ballet company is not a
goal likely to be reached by a late beginner. There are however other ambitions.
Leaving aside the demanding technical skills required of the professional ballet
dancer, some participants might well head for the world of dance in another form or
into the creative industries in some way, partly as a result of the demystification,
learning and self-development process which they have enjoyed through BB&Me.
B 6) The project aimed to increase the profile and reputation of all partners.
Birmingham Royal Ballet has been shown to be reaching out to the community in
some of the city‟s difficult areas, in providing opportunities for young people who
would never otherwise have had a chance for such intense and well supported
learning and development, and in being prepared to commit to, devise and sustain
this long-term, challenging project. It found ways to hold true to the company‟s
production values while bringing in young people most of whom had never had dance
lessons, certainly not ballet lessons as children. The 2010 Cinderella was a very
impressive achievement.
Equally impressive was the development of the project and the activity which
prepared the way for that performance over a period of two years. This required
work in the youth centres with individual young people over a sustained period.
Sometimes it meant youth workers were sorting out home/life problems which might
affect the participant‟s ability to stay in the project. While there were critical points in
the final weeks, it is just as important to recognise the work done before that. The
location of the different activities meant that young people were not only at the youth
centres but also at BRB‟s studios, meeting rooms, the Patrick Centre and the
Hippodrome. For those young people who were at the start lacking in confidence,
the consistent support of the youth workers in these different contexts, despite the
logistical challenges, was a major input.
A real success of the project in the view of the youth workers was the fact that it did
become a cross-city project, both for themselves and for the young people. This
became more apparent in the last six months and was highlighted by youth workers
in their post-production debriefing meeting (12-01-11). For the youth workers this
came through the connection with young people from different centres who had
become familiar to them and with whom relationships of trust had developed. For the
young people this came partly from the team work needed for the production but it
was also a social feature: „making new friends‟ was one of their most frequent
comments. One youth worker was aware in August 2010 that some young people
had (outside the project) been travelling to different parts of the city beyond their own
areas and they would probably not have done this without the links which the project
created. In these ways the project had strong community elements.
At the end of the project, partners took the chance to celebrate what had been
achieved. BYS secured additional funding from Birmingham City Council for a
celebration ball at the Council House. BRB organised a showing of the film of the
performance of the young people‟s Cinderella, as neither the performers nor the
youth workers had been able to see the performance. A documentary DVD was
prepared. The Communications Department and external PR consultants handled
publicity and media contacts. It is hard to imagine how a small or medium-sized arts
organisation could have sustained a similar programme in such difficult economic
times, nor how it could have mounted such a high profile representation of the
The PR activity and production of the DVD were funded from project resources, but
without BRB‟s expertise in these areas, it is doubtful whether this aspect of the
project could have been co-ordinated and managed during the final stage and after
the production, in early 2011.
One aspect of the project drew comment from the post-production dancers‟ group
interview. This was the opportunity to confront stereotypical ideas about ballet. Just
as the young man speaking at the YAB meeting was happy to say that ballet was for
boys as well as girls, so one dancer emphasised the value of challenging notions of
elitism and of gender stereotypes:
Ideas about male ballet dancers in particular both being elite professionals
and therefore elite people. I hate that and I‟m constantly trying to dispel the
idea... Projects like that really do that and it‟s so nice for us to be able to go
into a studio and just be normal people. That‟s something I really enjoy. I
really enjoy that first couple of sessions where there‟s that realisation that
“These are just guys. He lives in Ladywood too”.
(Dancer B)
As a counterpoint to the glamour of the final phase, this speaker emphasised the
purpose and value of the project because it was undertaken by (largely) publicly
funded organisations. Despite reservations about the project as a way of building
audiences, its value was evident in different terms:
We have a responsibility as a result of our funding to engage with the
community. And to have the community understand what we do and why it‟s
important for us to do that in the community. And in that sense, I think it‟s
something that you can‟t put a value on.
Section C Other evaluation aims
We considered above in Section B how far the project met its explicit aims.
Additional questions were put to the evaluation team. For a fuller account of the
evaluation process, see Appendices 1 and 2. Here we note only that in January
2010 the team sought guidance from the Management Group on where to deploy the
time available as future activity escalated. The Group confirmed that our focus
should be on professional development and the partnership work taking place. It was
already clear that BYS would be tracking young people‟s „journeys‟; youth service
staff were best placed to do this on a continuing basis and our team did not have the
resources to tackle this adequately as well as other tasks.
We had however benefited from access to the young people during 2009 and were
able to speak with them informally during workshops, classes and rehearsals right
through 2010 in the five youth centres, at the Patrick Centre and in the final stages at
The Hippodrome. So, having observed some of the very first dance sessions in the
youth centres in early 2009, we also saw the same young people 18 months later,
working towards the public performance of Cinderella. This informal contact helped
provide a backcloth for the areas on which we now concentrated.
In Section C we address the questions posed in the early stages of the project (see
Section A), giving attention to professional development and partnership work. In
Section D we address more directly other issues arising from the evaluation,
especially the ways in which different pedagogies were operating within this project
and how people from different working environments handled this.
C 1 The effectiveness of the project in engaging young people in good quality
dance and arts opportunities
The young people taking part in BB&Me were able to attend performances of the
highest international standard. They were able to work with dancers who perform at
this level but who were ready to help them develop their own skills in an appropriate
way. They had opportunities to perform to invited audiences. They encountered
many BRB creative, administrative and technical staff and freelance artists each of
whom brought a particular professional approach to the activity. Over time, they
came to understand the degree of personal effort needed to produce such a
performance. Section B gave a fuller assessment of these issues, but they had to
understand at the least schedules, timetabling, the pattern of rehearsals, and the
importance of attending because the absence of one individual could affect everyone
else in that scene.
Those with special needs
BB&Me aimed to be inclusive in drawing in all sorts of young people, but especially
those who might not easily be able to access live cultural experiences. One youth
centre was for young people with learning disabilities and a group of eleven
participated throughout the project. There was a telling progression from early 2009
to late 2010. During the Still Life phase, each youth centre rehearsed a scene and
these were put together in sequence in the final rehearsal at the Patrick Centre,
when all participants also learned the finale. The worker at this youth centre (and her
assistant) chose to dance alongside the young people and it was clear in rehearsals
that this gave them confidence. After the performance she was delighted that they
had had the chance to perform in such an event.
By the time of the casting for Cinderella, participants from the five youth centres had
been mingling both in ballet classes and in the intensive sessions. This meant that
these particular young people were coping with a much wider range of people than
usual, and that other participants were getting used to what they could do and how
they might on occasion need back-up. In the performance, members of this youth
centre did not operate as a group, but had roles alongside other young people. Like
the casting process, this was excellent practice. It was possible because over time
all participants had been able to adapt to any special issues and take account of
them, and the young people themselves had developed the confidence to take part,
in some cases taking substantial roles and performing with panache.
Post-performance, the choreographers commented in a group interview on how they
had themselves learned from working with these young people:
We had three or four kids with quite severe learning difficulties and I think for
us, learning to communicate in a way that was suitable.... we had to learn to
communicate and to be very specific because what we found was, if we set
something, it was impossible for them to change it. It took so long to kind of
re-educate that movement into that person‟s body.
(Dancer B)
These dancers said how impressed they were by the support given them by other
participants and recognised the role of the youth workers in this respect.
C 2 The impact on young people and how the development of the project leads
to this impact
In the first year, youth workers commented especially on the commitment and
discipline required from the participants. Later, the Youth Artistic Board (September
2010), and finally a wider group at the BYS Young People‟s Evaluation (February
2011) highlighted confidence, self esteem, and social benefits as well as dance skills.
From seeing the project develop over time we emphasise again the tenacity needed
to continue through a project like this where not every component will be entirely to
the taste of every young person. The variety of opportunities has not been
mentioned much by interviewees but we highlight this as a key requirement of any
long-term project which seeks to offer something with which every young person can
Some enjoyed most the development of dance technique: for them the instruction in
ballet classes was important. Others liked best the chance to perform, and they were
given those opportunities. Some gained from the drama sessions which showed how
performance can use mime and talents other than ballet technique. All appreciated
the recognition they had, whether through an attendance certificate, an Arts Award, a
word in rehearsal from a choreographer or ballet mistress, encouragement from
another young person, or the applause of an audience. Over two years, the
consistent support of the youth workers made this project more than the sum of its
parts and for those young people lacking much parental support or facing particular
difficulties, their role was crucial.
Still Life at the Penguin Cafe, performed at the Patrick Centre, was an excellent
choice for the first phase. The „Exploration‟ phase enabled ideas to be tried out and
drafted into a performance synopsis. Cinderella called for probably more than
anyone had envisaged. But as a public performance in a renowned venue, with the
full professional support of BRB and Hippodrome staff, it gave these young people an
experience to remember.
It is rare for young people to be stretched in this way and given the chance to show
what they are able, with support, to achieve. Some secondary schools in the public
sector and some in the independent sector can offer such special opportunities. But
BB&Me was not working with schools. These young people were not „captive‟ and
not obliged to keep turning up to evening sessions on a cold November evening
when life might be full of other problems or they might have to ask a parent to deliver
and collect them. No-one should underestimate the resolution and commitment of
these young people and of the adults, whether family, youth workers or BRB staff,
who stood behind them to enable them to reach the performance. Bayc‟s Youth Arts
Development Officer observed: „I have never seen youth workers pushed so hard
but with support they rose to the challenge and achieved so much‟ (November
BRB‟s dancers and members of the Department for Learning reflected on areas of
practical understanding which are easily overlooked:
Not only did they have to know when to come on, they also had the obstacle
of coming up the stairs and time off stage.... They had to know the music:
after 16 counts, you need to walk on...‟
(Ballet mistress January 2011)
Just as we observed and noted in the Interim Report the difference between the
manner and focus of the young people between their first sessions and later stages,
so this was evident to others who worked closely with the young people:
The problem was at the beginning really. The talking was still there even
during the intensives: that was the middle ground. By the end you could
have heard a pin drop. Some had seen a Company class. Afterwards they
said: “They don‟t talk. They get on and do it.” It really made them think. By
the end they were really on the ball. It was the same backstage: I thought it
would be a matter of crowd control but their behaviour was amazing.
(Ballet mistress, January 2011)
The choreographers interviewed after the production also gave credit to their ability
to concentrate:
Considering that they‟re not trained dancers and there‟s a limit to what you
can do, I think the majority of them coped very well. Not only with the
choreography, but with the transition between studio to the stage, dealing with
the lights, the orchestra – we do that all the time and even we have issues....
They just got on there and just did it. That‟s why I like working with young
people because they‟re so adaptable and they‟ll just go along with it.... All
sorts of gripes that we have because it‟s our day-to-day job, they were just
“Oh, OK, keep going”.
(Dancer F)
During 2010, the Youth Artistic Board made a lively contribution to the project. YAB
members took the opportunity and made the most of it: they communicated
effectively with friends at the youth centres, with members of the Company, with
potential sponsors, and with national media organisations. Its members gave a
powerful example of a mature and productive contribution to a major project.
The project offered an unusual chance to these young people which the youth
workers appreciated. One remarked on how special it could be for some
What an opportunity to do a project with Birmingham Royal Ballet! Some of
them go through school: they don‟t cause any problem but they don‟t really
achieve much.
(Youth worker, May 2010)
BB&Me, in her view, was an amazing opportunity as well as something which they
could put on a CV: it might be especially valuable for those who „find it hard to
articulate‟. This youth worker said in interview how impressed she was to see young
people sustaining their commitment over (at this point) more than 12 months and
building relationships with other young people across the city.
Two telling post-performance reflections came from people who were directly
involved about the effect this project had on the young people:
In terms of “reaching for the stars”, we don‟t always get these opportunities in
a youth work setting, but with the rich partnerships involved, we did.
(bayc Youth Arts Development Officer, November 2010)
There were some profoundly priceless moments. When light bulbs sparked in
their eyes.
(BB&Me Choreographic Director, February 2011)
C 3 The impact on the partner organisations including the development of staff
knowledge and understanding of partners’ professional expertise
Development across organisations
In the early stages, the project‟s Management Group envisaged joint training and
CPD sessions for those involved and some of these took place eg a professional
development session for senior managers in October 2008 and an early training
session led by bayc‟s Youth Arts Development Officer.
During 2010 it was hard to organise joint meetings for all involved. Meetings
between youth workers and the company‟s dancers/ choreographers could not be
arranged in a structured way because of the difficulty of different working schedules
and touring commitments. BYS held meetings of the youth workers which were
sometimes attended by BRB‟s Project Manager and in February 2010 BYS organised
a team building day for young people and youth workers to which BRB staff
contributed. The BB&Me Project Manager led parts of the day alongside BYS staff.
This was an excellent demonstration of collaboration and showed how far the
partners had come in working in parallel. Though planned for the young people, this
event also constituted professional development for the adults involved.
If formal CPD sessions have been relatively limited, the informal learning on this
project has been very marked. We have seen this not only in the „getting to know
you‟ stages during which BYS and bayc staff on the one hand and BRB staff on the
other had to get to grips with how the other organisation worked with young people.
This was not always a comfortable process because it could require each partner to
reassess its priorities for the project.
We also saw how key people worked when a difficult situation or a real crisis arose.
One instance was when in spring of 2010 participants were obliged to work barefoot
for Indian dance sessions. The reluctance of some young people to do so had to be
addressed and youth workers were important in articulating the concerns to BRB
staff. An agreement was jointly reached whereby some would sit out of the class for
these sessions.
The Company arranged media training for YAB members, some of whom were
interviewed during the August intensives. A slip of the tongue by one young person
during a regional TV broadcast proved embarrassing and here again the youth
workers were able to convey to BRB what this meant so that a suitable response
could be made and were there to give support. The young person chose not to
pursue the matter.
Probably the most difficult situation arose when, just ten days before the BB&Me
performance, some young people attending the new production of Cinderella
behaved inappropriately, provoking a complaint from a member of the audience.
Telephone and email discussion between BYS staff and BRB staff over the weekend
was followed by a Monday morning meeting with youth workers and BB&Me staff
which unanimously agreed that five young people should be excluded from the
production. After a morning of much speculation, the young people were told this.
While this was at the time very demanding and dispiriting for everyone involved, the
moment was managed very steadily and the immediate drama was overtaken by the
need to focus on the coming performance. This as an important learning point for all
the young people but also showed the partners working together with a united front at
a particularly difficult time.
These examples of difficulties overcome should not undermine the achievements
made. They show rather that a sound partnership will find ways to handle the
unforeseen pitfalls which are bound to appear in any initiative.
Reviewing the nature of the many meetings, sessions and having observed activities
involving young people and adults over more than two years, we want to stress the
informal learning opportunities which presented as this project developed. Some of
these could probably never have been predicted. (See also Sections B3, and D.)
We also saw adults from all partner organisations operating very effectively together,
as in the May 2010 feedback session involving „Exploration‟ phase artists and youth
An excellent session, very well prepared for, excellently facilitated and the
artist/youth workers interface very well managed..... A very important
discussion is facilitated between youth workers and artists around the social
content of young people‟s ideas and where these might have come from.....
This is a very inspiring and rewarding session and it is clear that all present
feel this has been a unique and very special occasion. A [the artistic director]
and B [choreographic director] work together without ego, very effective, very
committed and their combined experience is really lifting the work.
(Fieldnotes May 2010)
Development for BYS and bayc staff
Birmingham Association of Youth Clubs played a key role in the initial partnership
development and offered continued support for the project manager. They are
committed to producing training and did so in sessions in the opening phase. Later
bayc became less active on a regular basis but the Chief Executive began the
„Legacy‟ discussions by leading a session for BB&Me partners in October 2010. We
noted above that bayc‟s organisational review had refocused its actions after the start
of this project. The Youth Arts Development Officer was involved in early events,
attended some Management Group meetings and helped during final rehearsals at
the Hippodrome. She was also the direct point of contact and support for the Project
Manager when she spent time at bayc‟s offices.
BYS youth centre staff recruited and supported the young people for each phase of
the project, being present with them before, during and after each activity or event.
During early and mid 2009 the „core‟ youth workers at the five centres continued to
work with their young people. There was a period of reduced momentum at
management levels until late in 2009 two members of the central team were
allocated to work on the project and support youth workers. A clearer focus
overcame some earlier uncertainty. Better communication at a strategic level
happened just when the youth workers who had been involved since March 2009
were becoming more confident about their role. The incoming youth officers were
able to give time to tracking the young people‟s experience. They organised a team
building event for all young people and youth workers in February 2010 and ensured
that youth workers had their own meetings to share experience about BB&Me. One
supported the Youth Arts Board set up by the new Artistic Director, attending all
sessions. They also developed evaluation processes to track young people‟s
responses in a style familiar to the BYS.
All youth workers achieved Arts Award training. Equally important to one youth
worker were the relationships which they had developed:
It has been difficult with staffing: managing it, the commitment required;
staffing levels especially. But for what young people get out of it: it‟s
relationship-building – potential for the future.
(Youth Worker, May2010)
In the Still Life phase of the project youth workers told us that this project was
developing in a quite different style from that they had seen with Ballet Hoo. So
although practical and indeed ideological issues would arise, there was a working
atmosphere which enabled these to be addressed. Early in 2010, this was echoed
by the incoming youth officer from the central team. During the August 2010
intensives, one meeting (16-08-10) brought together the youth workers and
dancers/choreographers. All involved spoke of this as a turning point. One dancer
That was really, really good. I did the Ballet Hoo project and we never had a
meeting like that. And through the entire project we had problems with the
youth workers. We had differences of opinions and difference of views simply
because we never had a meeting like that. Simply by establishing a common
ground, it was a level playing field for everyone.
(BRB choreographer August 2010)
Our observation confirmed the value of this session, held „to deal with rising tensions
between two groups‟. At the time, these seemed to exemplify the culture clash
between BRB professionals and youth workers. Field Notes describe the artistic
director and choreographic director as
brave and right to tackle these head on in another brilliantly facilitated
meeting.... In the end both sides full of mutual admiration, but issues to do
with discipline, expectations of choreographers surfaced and dealt with
positively and to mutual satisfaction.
((Field notes 17 -08-10)
This important discussion took place 18 months into the project. The original hope
had been that such rapport and understanding would develop in the first months but
this proved to be unduly optimistic. It takes time to develop understanding and trust
between partners: the generous timescale of this project made that a realistic aim
and one which was met.
The Choreographic Director later described this as „a wonderful good catalyst
moment with the youth workers. I was really chuffed with things. People left feeling
really good energy‟.
Finally, the very experienced bayc Youth Arts Officer recognised the strength of
BB&Me‟s artistic direction in being clear with the young people during the August
He was very clear with the boundaries. He said “I can‟t give you total
autonomy, so I can‟t promise you that.” We sometimes do give the
impression that it‟s possible, but life‟s not like that.
The above is borne out by our observations from the first YAB session (April 2010)
where it was made very clear that there were areas which the young people could
decide or could advise, but other areas where the actual decision would have to be
made by others.
The part played by youth workers was warmly appreciated by choreographers in the
post-production group interview.
Dancer E: They‟d be there in rehearsals from time to time... If someone was
getting restless or someone was getting tired and needed pepping up, and
we‟d be choreographing.. they‟d be able to help...
Dancer B: They maybe stepped back a little bit in the early part of our
rehearsal process, probably for fear of getting in the way, not interfering....
I did feel kept in the loop from the youth workers for example if someone
wasn‟t going to be present they‟d come to us and told us and if it was
appropriate they told us why.
Dancer E: They were really helpful. I guess we were both doing our
respective things.
Dancer G: They felt really involved and really comfortable in choreographing
large sections- and keeping the ideas together and what we wanted and what
the kids wanted to do as well. So I felt as if they were part of our team. They
helped with discussions and the whole process as well.
Prior to this period, some youth workers had felt ambivalent about their role as it
seemed to be to „deliver‟ the young people to sessions run by BRB staff. During the
August intensives some youth workers chose to join the ballet class. Others were
happy to contribute as described above, making suggestions which could help the
scene develop.
In our view the main professional development in this project has been through
learning at work: through facing situations and reviewing them separately and
collectively in order to move things forward. This has probably been more influential
than any specific training sessions.
Development for BRB dancers/ choreographers
The team of dancers contracted to work on choreography was complemented by
staff from the Department for Learning who have substantial experience of working
with children and young people. One member of staff thought that a key skill was
„adaptability‟. This was born partly of a frustration that „each session you‟d never
know – it was quite hard if you had a plan in place, if you‟d prepared a section, to
choreograph it with the young people‟. And because there were so many groups, if
there was any staff absence, it was possible to find oneself working with a unfamiliar
group on an unfamiliar scene. Her very philosophical response was: „It‟s not a bad
thing – you need the skills to get on and do it‟.
For the ballet mistresses, having the music was essential because they needed to
help the young people to count through their sequences, and this called for
preparation. One felt that learning to maximise the ideas of the young people and
shape sequences to fit their ability had proved „a more creative way of working: „You
can‟t just put steps on people who haven‟t done ballet before because it would look
awkward‟ (Ballet mistress, January 2011).
A very experienced facilitator pinpointed some unfamiliar demands which BRB
dancers faced in working with these young people. There were always creative
surprises but in addition:
I found working with large groups – it may be the nature of young people –
challenging to settle. I‟m not a shouter, not a whistle blower: it was a bit of a
The company dancers who took part in the Still Life sessions in early 2009 or in the
2010 classes and intensive sessions stressed the value for them of working in a
creative project in a different way, with young people. In August 2010 they reflected
on their reasons for contributing to the project:
Dancer A: It‟s really rewarding project to see kids from outside the dance
world get an opportunity and I think the reason I got involved was to see the
end performance and to see them grow – and that‟s a really cool experience.
Dancer B: I‟d done quite a lot of work for the ... Department for short projects or evenings or longer projects. And I think I
was just looking to build on that to increase the skills of dealing with young
people, but also dealing with people in a creative environment, in the studio.
Dancer C: It‟s not something we get to do very often. So it‟s nice to do
something different.
Dancer A: It helps us as well: choreographically... and the different skills that
you learn by working with people.
For dancers who are themselves used to working to direction in the studio, the
chance to lead classes developed additional skills in managing a class, building
rapport and sharing knowledge. They commented (August 2010):
Dancer B: A lot of the skills that you develop from working with a group of
young people aren‟t necessarily different from the skills you‟d need to run a
studio of professional dancers, so in many ways it‟s practice for the same
thing, regardless of the skill levels of the people you‟re working with.
This dancer/choreographer repeated the same thoughts in January 2011 after weeks
of rehearsing for the performance of Cinderella. A less experienced dancer
highlighted the reciprocity of the learning relationships:
Dancer D: Everything‟s from the beginning and you have to sort of build a
foundation, like a rapport with them and then give them as much information
as you can about the art form and what we‟re going to achieve.... Working
with people it‟s like a two-way thing as well... they‟re giving us a lot of ideas.
And we‟re able with our skills I guess to sort of streamline them and point
them in the right direction for the end product.
These dancers reflected on the difference for them between taking instruction or
direction and learning to nurture others:
Dancer F: Usually we‟re the ones that are participating, being told what to do,
getting directed. But when you‟re – even just teaching class – you‟re at the
front of the room and you‟re having to hold everyone‟s attention and you‟re
trying to give then the best experience possible and get stuff – achieve things
and all that – I found that quite interesting straight away because you have to
make that switch..... between delivering, fulfilling your job in a dancer sense
or delivering what you want out of people and getting them to do stuff for you.
These skills which are second nature to the experienced staff within the Department
for Learning were being acquired through the project by members of the company
and, from their reflections, were contributing to their own professional development.
The chance to encourage young people‟s creativity was something which some
dancers enjoyed in the August intensive sessions:
Dancer F: For the young people we‟re working with, it‟s really inclusive and
they‟re just as much the choreographers as we are because we‟re dancing off
each other. These past couple of rehearsals, B and I approached them a bit
more experientially and prompted them and then saw what they came back
with. We didn‟t go in a with a set idea of something to teach them and it‟s
really interesting watching their reactions to that and how we can give them
ideas on the scene, what the characters are going to be like, or ask them
what they want the characters to be like...
It‟s much simpler to go into a room and say „This is what we‟re going to do‟.
And that‟s it.
Dancer B described the more open-ended approach as a „workshopping concept.
The BB&Me Director of Choreography felt that the project had offered
Something about fresh ways to relate to young people. It was different from
the classical ballet model. They were differentiating or adapting the dance
material. They learned about working a room – holding the attention of the
young people.
By 2011 the choreographers had further reflections on the process. The exploration
phase had been followed by the more focused rehearsal phase in the autumn when
they returned from touring and the pressure of time with the young people was acute.
In the final weeks rehearsals had to be more targeted:
What we were doing was really that direct instruction with the students and
the idea was we have to be channelling the young people‟s ideas. So some
of that was happening. I think by the end it was more a case of us being very
specific about what they needed to do rather than their lead.
(Dancer B)
The touring schedule made things difficult because the young people, the youth
workers and the artistic direction team had to sustain development which could mean
changes to what had previously been agreed with the choreographers. The dancers
also regretted the fact that they had not been involved in the process of generating
the story line, because some of them were uneasy about the ways in which it
diverged from the traditional Cinderella plot. This had proved difficult when
characters were still being created a week before the show (Dancers‟ group interview
12-01-11). At the same time they recognised that more advance preparation would
have meant allocating more time and extra expense. Some concerns could have
been addressed through a weekly meeting of the choreographers „to review the story
and review what‟s been changed‟ But this too would have incurred additional cost.
Development for other BRB staff
Some Heads of Department have been very supportive and practical about what was
needed to make this project successful and to help give the young people a good
experience and facilitate a good performance. The company continues to offer work
experience and this may give further opportunities for Heads of Departments to get to
know what young people are seeking and what they are capable of. Work
experience carries its own management cost in planning: at company level in
selecting young people and seeking to meet their needs, at departmental level, in
providing a framework to ensure that young people are given a worthwhile
The Costume Department had contact with each member of the cast. This
production presented a variety of physiques quite different from those of the
professional dancers with whom the department usually works. Adjustments were
made to the construction of individual costumes so that the young people would feel
comfortable wearing them. Many participants were grappling with teenage issues to
do with personal style, body image and so on. Some needed time to understand that
the individual was a part of the whole and the overall design mattered more than
one‟s personal image. At the same time, the attention by staff to detail and final
presentation was just what would have happened in a professional performance.
Early assumptions that the participants might want their Cinderella to be performed in
street clothes had to be rethought when the young people opted for traditional
There was a launch to inform the Company about the project, and departments were
approached individually about the different parts they could play. However staff had
limited time on this project and they are accustomed to working with professionals
who know and fit in with familiar processes. There were instances of delays or
misinterpretations, as when the young people‟s production was either „not yet ready‟
for the technical team, or when an individual participant was less careful than
expected about a costume. These moments were overcome, but made BB&Me staff
vigilant about ensuring that the interface with BRB departments would be as positive
as possible.
In the weeks prior to Cinderella, it was not clear how far the aims of the project and
the logistical challenges were fully appreciated by all departments. A company
operating at national and international levels has a constant forward momentum to
meet the next commitment and staff were already busy working towards BRB‟s new
production of Cinderella. One practical suggestion from the Department for
Learning‟s review was that on another occasion it might be advisable to produce a
young people‟s performance associated with a production which is already in the
Company‟s repertoire, rather than one which was about to be premiered.
However, after the performance, soundings by the Department for Learning elicited
very positive responses from some senior managers, who emphasised the evident
effect on young people, the learning within the company, the successful fundraising,
the profile given to classical ballet and the rigour it requires, the motivational power
and community value of the project. One senior respondent noted that the work was
Very important for the Company. BRB is giving the young people valuable
experience in working in an environment they are simply not used to, and
makes them aware of the disciplines, professionalism and hard work behind
the scenes and in performance.
Another commented on „the highs‟ as:
The performance. Watching the young performers enjoy and develop their
performance skills from the first rehearsal to the performance.
The „learning‟ was captured as:
That ballet can inspire, motivate, challenge and develop young people. It can
also inspire, motivate and challenge all BRB staff involved with the project.
Another senior colleague noted that for those who sponsored the project:
Funders were delighted with the quality of the project and its effectiveness in
engaging young people and sustaining their motivation and interest over such
a long time.
Department for Learning staff developed great expertise. Their own review of
„lessons learned‟ for planning future programmes on a large scale wisely
distinguished between reactions in the euphoria just after the performance of
Cinderella, and more measured reflections in the weeks following. If the Department
were to embark now on a follow-up project akin to BB&Me, it already knows some
areas which it would redesign and staff have the confidence and skills to handle the
demands of such a project. They also know the factors which made BB&Me a
success and which they would want to replicate.
We consider more fully in Section D the varieties of pedagogy which featured in this
project and the ways in which these interacted.
C 4 The effectiveness of the governance structure, and the management and
leadership structure
The project operated through a number of groups. The Steering Group was
necessary as it included senior representatives of the organisations involved and
initiated the project as a whole. It met at intervals during its development. While the
Steering Group was able from the very start to set out the vision which it had, the
details of the project were handled at other levels. Its Chair person had helped to
develop the initial idea of an educational project alongside BRB‟s new Cinderella.
She also chaired the Management Group. A member of BRB‟s Board, her role in this
project was as an independent facilitator.
The BB&Me Management Group comprised some BRB senior managers and
representatives of the partner organisations, meeting (usually) monthly. BRB‟s
Department for Learning kept detailed minutes of these discussions and decisions
and the evaluation team attended about half the meetings. The Chairperson was a
champion for the project both internally and outside the Company, combining this
with being a mediator when particular problems arose. BRB‟s Development Director,
Communications Director and Finance Director were all key to the progress of the
project at different points, in bidding for additional funds, and presenting BB&Me to
the outside world. Monitoring the various budgets for different funders and tracking
the input from the various partners, both financial and „in kind‟ was a key task (See
Appendix 4). The Management Group up-dated its formal risk assessments as the
work developed. We were impressed by the Department for Learning‟s attention to
detail in monitoring discussions and decisions and recording these in the minutes of
meetings. There was an administrative cost to this, but it gave a chance for staff to
reflect on progress and to record the decision-making process.
The Operations Group was a smaller group of representatives of BYS and bayc
alongside Department for Learning staff, which met usually fortnightly, and dealt with
more day-to-day issues. Here practical problems could be picked up promptly and
often dealt with without delay.
Regular Artistic Team meetings took place during 2011 for the development of
Cinderella. While youth workers initially felt that they could contribute to this, once a
BYS representative had attended some meetings, it was clear that this would not be
the best use of people‟s time. Youth workers from participating centres had regular
meetings usually without a BRB representative to check how things were developing
and address any issues that were emerging.
We noted in the 2010 Interim Report that people often spoke in 2009 about the need
for „communication‟. Paradoxically, we heard it said that there were „many
meetings‟, the implication being „too many‟. When activity increased in 2010, other
key people were involved: the artistic director, the choreographic director, and the
two people from BYS central team. The project became more complex and the role
of the Project Manager more demanding. However the various groups meant that
these people were encountering each other frequently so there were opportunities to
raise issues as they developed.
The Youth Artistic Board became an active component in the management of the
project and contributed strongly during 2010, for instance joining in a presentation to
a potential funder, speaking about the project to BRB and BYS staff, and coping with
external media opportunities. YAB sessions were facilitated by the artistic director,
with the director of choreography and a member of BYS central team present. The
BB&Me Project Manager sometimes joined the group.
Channels between these various groups were kept open by the BRB Project
Manager with a direct link with core youth workers and also in 2010 by the two
members of BYS central staff. This may seem like a multiplicity of groups, but each
served a different purpose and for a complicated long-term project, it is hard to see
exactly where one could reduce these.
While the role of each group was understood in general terms, there was one point at
which a decision (about whether to try to recruit additional male participants) did
move between groups. Discussions following this clarified the decision-making
structure in a more formal way. In any future project, this might be agreed more
clearly at the outset. However this is said with hindsight and we would rather stress
the open-ended and risk-taking style in which this project began, which allowed all
sorts of possibilities to be explored without being hampered by the blight of delays for
committee approval.
We said earlier that the longevity of the project and the stability of BRB were strong
factors in the project‟s success. When challenges emerged, not only was there
sufficient time to address them, there was also an imperative to deal with them.
There could be no „fudging‟ a temporary way out for the short term.
BRB‟s organisational structure enabled staff to handle particular issues as they
arose, without being delayed by submissions to many internal committees. For
instance, when the logistics and cost of transport to the city centre proved a difficulty
for one youth centre, BRB was able (having made contingency allowances in the
project budget) to cover the cost of transport. Decisions about costumes too,
required unexpected expenditure: the working assumption had been that the young
people would prefer their Cinderella to adopt a modern casual style. In fact they
asked for more traditional costumes. This preference was accepted and BRB
allocated sufficient funds from the project budget to enable its designers and
seamstresses to create a wardrobe of costumes at a standard which reflected the
company‟s normal production values. Here too, the production was not delayed by
having to persuade colleagues that this was necessary. The aim of combining
excellence and inclusion was sustained.
There was an inevitable imbalance between the youth services which partnered BRB
in this project. At the start of this project, BYS employed many youth workers who
had direct contact on a weekly basis with young people in their centres, though these
staff were increasingly conscious that there would be severe staff cuts; 33 youth
workers were involved in the project (Table 3). Bayc had two staff members working
with the voluntary sector and 3 people from bayc were involved in the project (Table
These distinctions sharpened during the period of the project: we noted above how
staff changes at senior level played a part. BYS was able to bring in two new staff
members to directly support youth workers and the Youth Artistic Board, while bayc
provided (part-time) office space and one-to-one support for the BB&Me project
manager. By late 2010, the situation in the voluntary sector was also difficult. Bayc
had already reconfigured the work which it could do but public expectations of „The
Big Society‟ did not always take account of the situation for voluntary organisations
„on the ground‟ which were under great pressure.
BB&Me‟s Management Group was the route through which such situations in partner
organisations were recognized and given due attention. Among the various groups
with their particular responsibilities, the project manager post was central to the
success of the project. This was a demanding role which required the ability to
communicate with young people, youth workers, artists, dancers and other
colleagues at BRB as well as senior managers in all the partnership organisations
and external contacts. In a perfect world, where the ultimate scale of BB&Me could
have been foreseen, it would have made sense to appoint the project manager at a
higher level and to allow separately, possibly on a part-time basis, for additional
administrative support.
C 5 The style, quality and rigour of workshops and youth work
We signalled in the Interim Report (Galloway and Neelands, 2010, p.12) instances of
first class workshops and the caution which we had about some others. By the end
of this project, young people had experienced sessions led by BRB dancers,
Department for Learning staff, freelance instructors, self-employed artists, and BYS
The „Exploration‟ phase was well planned in offering a „lab‟ session for both freelance
artists and youth workers, and in scheduling a feedback session after this sequence
of workshops. These were very well organised and generated many good ideas from
the young people‟s sessions with the artists which helped shape the Cinderella
One youth worker accustomed to organising workshops for young people was
pleased with the way in which the freelance artists had been prepared:
Some come in and say: “This is what I expect...”. In the past I‟ve had to
negotiate. Not on the ballet project. With the Exploration sessions, that
wasn‟t a problem. All the workers have been clear about their brief and that‟s
really important.
Youth worker May 2010
A bonus here was that working with a variety of artists meant that the list of contacts
available to the youth centre had been extended: „If I want to do a photographic
project I will ring Jo‟.
However having just two workshops with each freelance artist working in different art
forms meant that this could be a rather kaleidoscopic experience rather than a
sequence offering links and progression. There were inspiring sessions but some
lacklustre ones. Some youth workers were fully involved throughout, others took a
more passive role as observers, or left the artist largely in control of the group. This
was of course an „Exploration‟ so no-one would want to be over-prescriptive: it might
however be wise on another project to think about some of these issues. A flavour of
the range observed in early summer 2010 includes:
Expert facilitation and real patience and determination to get outcomes, but
very slow to get attention and get on with it.
[Artist] finds it very difficult to focus young people and get any outcomes.
Accepts whatever is given by young people.... Young people come and go as
they please, take a long time to settle and get on with work.... Youth worker
joins in and has excellent rapport.
No real sense of progression in the artist workshop or across workshops.
Every session starts at the beginning and not enough building on prior work.
(Fieldwork notes May 2010)
We heard earlier how in the August intensives dancers developed their own ways of
exploring ideas with the young people rather than imposing a set sequence. There
were some frustrations because of the fact that these sessions were actually part of
the auditioning process so the choreographers were working with young people who
would not necessarily take those parts in the production. Other choreographers
valued the more open-ended opportunities. The following comments illustrate the
range of opinion about these days:
Dancer E: All credit to them because they were committed to doing it, to
being part of the experiment when there‟s no structure.
Dancer A: Yeh, it‟s pointless if you‟re not in that scene to learn that stuff,
keep that stuff in your head.
Dancer F: There wasn‟t really a set goal for what we wanted to achieve in
these past few days. It‟s another opportunity to familiarise ourselves with
them because we haven‟t had much to do with them. And that‟s kind of nice,
because if we‟d never met them, if the casting was done and we came in
„cold‟ , there‟s less to draw upon, in terms of your interaction with people.
Youth work
The key youth workers kept close to the action throughout and were themselves
helped by part-time workers or volunteers. Each youth centre had its own character
and they did not operate in a standard way. They work with the knowledge of
particular issues in the lives of the young people to establish rapport and support
when it is needed, and this was essential to the success of the project.
There were points at which the youth workers‟ intervention either explained particular
difficulties, articulated the unease of young people, or smoothed the way for the
project, avoiding pitfalls. One example concerned the requirement for some dance
sessions that the young people should work barefoot, which provoked a negative
response from some participants (discussed earlier).
Another example concerned the casting announcements: BRB usual practice would
have been to announce to everyone at Thorp Street, perhaps using this as an
opportunity to film responses. BYS staff felt that the announcements should be
made locally in the youth centres, where young people would have time to take in
their role and if needed, would have the chance to talk with someone about it. We
said in a progress update to the Management Group (October 2010) that the
resulting process was exemplary. Each participant received a personal letter on BRB
notepaper (not a list of names posted on a notice board or read out or sent by email).
The letter signed by the BB&Me artistic director and the choreographic director
explained why, after the August intensive sessions, the recipient had been chosen for
this part, what the potential was in the role and how the directors felt that this person
could make the most of this opportunity. Some letters mentioned technical skills,
others a talent for strong characterisation, others highlighted the ability to work hard
in a team and pick up what was needed. These called for meticulous and thoughtful
drafting from the directors.
Some youth work is almost invisible but this project gave many opportunities to
engage with young people. This could be through the endless planning and
arranging and supervising of sessions, or it could be, as one youth worker explained,
in overseeing the process of taking measurements (August 2010). Here youth
workers had the chance to talk with those waiting to be measured one at a time and
commented that this was a good opportunity. By this stage, each youth worker had
become known to young people from other youth centres and there was no longer
the demarcation which had been there at the start of the project.
Outside the scheduled workshops, classes and rehearsals, BB&Me stimulated other
opportunities to work with young people. This was sometimes project-related in a
general sense eg displaying photographs in the youth centre, booking an extra (nonBRB) dance instructor, preparing a piece for a community event, or arranging a trip to
see a musical in London. Sometimes however it was part of their more ‟invisible‟
work as in encouraging someone through a difficult patch: such crises are not
project-related but resolving them can have a knock-on effect which will boost the
young person‟s commitment to continue in this project and presumably in future
It was impressive too, to see how youth service staff and BRB staff co-operated very
speedily by email interchanges and/or meetings to resolve specific concerns as they
arose in the final months of the project.
In their January 2011 post-production de-briefing, youth workers said that if they had
been involved from the outset, they could have foreseen and prevented certain
practical difficulties (eg those relating to transport). However at the planning stage in
2008, the project had been in its infancy. The core youth workers were brought in
from early 2009 and extra support from the central team came from late 2009.
C 6 The effectiveness of arrangements to fully involve young people and
young dancers in the management and development of the project
The Youth Artistic Board (YAB) of 17 young people first met in April 2010 and
continued working until December 2010, representing the five youth centres and all
participants. In 2009, a young people‟s focus group had met on occasion but this
format then had not proved successful. In the early stages, these young people did
not have the confidence to address the Management Group – and did not have a
focus to talk about. We noted in our Interim Report (p.14) that from the first meeting
of the Youth Artistic Board, there was a „noticeable confidence and readiness to
respond to the issues being suggested and to put forward their own ideas‟.
The YAB had a focus on the forthcoming production and was facilitated by the newly
appointed BB&Me‟s artistic director and director of choreography. A BYS
representative attended each meeting. The development of the young people who
formed the YAB is one of the real successes of this project. By August 2010 they
were able to give a coherent presentation to members of the Company, and to give
interviews to BBC regional TV and radio news. Their role was to provide a two-way
channel and we also observed them feeding back to youth centres.
BRB is now considering how to develop further the potential of young people in
similar fashion. Initially, there was a suggestion that some members of the young
people‟s focus group would attend BB&Me Management Group meetings. This did
not happen. By mid 2010, the Youth Artistic Board was working very effectively in a
different way, clearly providing leadership, both in rehearsals and publicly. The
artistic director felt that it took about three months for this group to gel and to work in
a really productive way (Documentary DVD, 2011). Our observations during the
August intensives reflect how this group was nurtured and how it developed:
Really expert facilitation to adult relationships with young people.
Young people expertly prepared for presentations, prepped and given really
useful advice on how to present themselves to an audience – how to „do the
sweep‟ to get attention. This is really careful work.
This is real authentic youth voice engagement.
Presentation by young people excellent, very empowering, very confident.
I‟m so impressed again by what has been achieved in terms of personal
development for these young people.
(Fieldwork notes August 2010)
C 7 The effectiveness of the provision of accredited learning opportunities for
young people
We described in Section B2 the way in which the Arts Awards were delivered. Most
youth workers have experience of seeing young people through various accreditation
systems and it may be that closer consultation and planning early on would have
been useful. The messages here are that in planning accreditation, organisations will
want to assess carefully the choice of award, the degree of prescription, the location
and timing of sessions, the style of support, taking account of the scale of the project.
Despite difficulties, the achievement of the young people with the support they had
was very significant: the bayc Youth Arts Development Officer, who had much
experience of such awards, was sure that bringing in the advisor had helped raise
the quality of what was produced.
Supporting around 40 young people is a major undertaking when a group of ten is
the largest normally working as a cohort. The Arts Award Advisor felt that BRB had
„always been proactive and supportive‟ and also „very flexible, very organised, very
structured. They seemed to understand the process‟. Both her reflections
(November 2010) and the comments from some youth workers during the project
indicated that there might have been a clearer approach to the offer of accreditation
on the project. An early discussion with youth workers (not senior managers only)
about the choice of this qualification and what it offered could have been useful.
C 8 Monitoring the development of the project and ongoing formative
From the start it was clear that this would be a „slow burn‟ project. The evaluation
therefore sought to keep in touch with developments in 2009 mainly in the five youth
centres and in 2010 both in youth centres and at BRB‟s Thorp Street studios and the
Hippodrome as this became an extremely complex project. We provided progress
up-dates with emerging issues to the Management Group and met with the Director
for Learning and Project Manager at key points in the project. These allowed
different ways to reflect on experience so far. Attending some Management Group
meetings enabled us to talk through various observations. Appendix 1 comments
more fully on the evaluation processes and Appendix 2 summarises the fieldwork
and other contacts as the project progressed.
Throughout this project, the Department for Learning provided detailed minutes of the
Management Group meetings. This required significant office time. It was valuable to
the evaluation team but the minutes also served as a way for the Department to
reflect on progress during the project.
Section D Other issues emerging from the evaluation
D1 A meeting of pedagogical paradigms
From the outset the decision to work at professional levels to realise a series of
performance projects with young people served by youth services was a challenge.
Professional dance and youth work have very different pedagogic expectations and it
was a major success of the BB&Me project that it gained the mutual respect of both
sides of this equation.
Many of the young people and those that work with them came to appreciate,
understand and be proud of the discipline associated with classical dance and how it
gave them confidence and enhanced levels of self-esteem to be inducted into this
tradition. Conversely, many of the ballet professionals involved came to understand
the worlds of the young people they were working with and the patient dedication and
commitment of youth workers. Key to this was the emphasis from the beginning on
building relationships and establishing rigorous dialogue which encouraged the
surfacing of issues and the negotiation of different needs and expectations. BRB‟s
Director for Learning and staff in that department, along with the Operations Group,
including the teacher dancers and the project manager, were significant in achieving
this by actively seeking out opportunities to meet with youth workers both formally
and informally.
Classical dance: culture and pedagogy
Perhaps of all the arts, classical dance is most associated with rigorous discipline.
The professional dancer is committed to a life of discipline in order to ensure their
bodies are maintained as „instruments‟. This will mean taking health, fitness and
gruelling daily training sessions extremely seriously, for instance. As with other
performers the discipline of punctuality, mental and physical preparedness, and the
willingness to accept direction are also vital. The culture of the dance class and of
the rehearsal room tends to be dominated by the director and teacher who expect
complete commitment and deference to their authority. Taken together there is a
tradition of discipline in dance, which has become part of its pedagogic and well as
its performance identity.
In the BB&Me project young people worked with a range of artists, including the
visual arts, photographers, and drama educators as well as dancers and
choreographers. But the work with those most closely associated with classical
dance was always characterised by a commitment to encourage, even demand, that
young people would accept and embrace the „discipline‟ of the art form. Indeed on
occasions, the work would be halted and participants reprimanded if the
professionals did not feel that the levels of discipline were appropriate. Discipline in
dance is of course important not least because of the risks of injury. It is also
important in any performance project which requires rehearsal periods and training
that the discipline of time management, attendance and preparedness are adhered
to. Absences, lateness and inattention seriously affect the quality of the performance
outcome for all involved not just the individual.
Youth service work: culture and pedagogy
The culture of youth services‟ engagement with young people is different. Young
people choose to go to youth centres; they are not required to attend as they are in
school. Many young people are seeking an experience distinctively different from
that offered in school and youth services are also keen to encourage young people
who are disaffected by formal schooling to engage with other kinds of youth oriented
activities that do not have the feel of institutional learning. Amongst the target groups
for youth work provision will be young people who have a difficult relationship to any
form of authority be it school, family or the police.
Whilst some youth centre activities do require discipline from young people
particularly for Health and Safety reasons, in general youth centres tend to be more
informal, relaxed and leisurely than in schools and certainly more than a dance class
or rehearsal. Whilst young people are encouraged to keep to commitments there is
greater flexibility about punctuality, patterns of attendance and behaviour. The focus
is on the individual young person and their needs rather than on fulfilling the
demands of the project or working towards high stakes public performances. As one
youth worker put it: „Our relationship with young people is voluntary and sometimes
they don‟t turn up. They‟re going through life facing difficulties at times‟.
Addressing areas of dissonance
Within these broad pedagogic differences in the BB&Me project there were of course
diverse pedagogic practices and expectations on both sides. Some professional
dancers and instructors may have been more willing than others to listen to young
people, seek their ideas and take an interest in their lives. They recognised
themselves as potential positive role models for the young people and as
ambassadors for classical dance. Some others who led sessions tended to drill and
instruct without leaving much space for reflection and response. They tended to see
the work with young people as being peripheral to their work for BRB rather than
central to the organisation‟s ambition to be socially and culturally inclusive. There
were points of conflict where dancers or choreographers appeared to put their own
needs and professional esteem before those of the young people; particularly when
the individual parts of Cinderella were brought together which required some editing
and re-arrangement of choreographed work. Each pair of choreographers worked
with particular groups so they obviously wanted them to show themselves at their
best. Some engaged with the bigger picture of what the project was trying to achieve
in terms of making a positive difference to young people‟s lives. Others were more
concerned with the imperative of achieving high standards of performance on their
own terms and irrespective of the longer term impact on young people.
Amongst the youth workers there were some who found the emphasis on discipline,
punctuality, silence in rehearsal and commitment difficult to accept. There was
always a concern that the expectations of the production should take into account the
difficulties in some young people‟s lives. All were keen to help and support young
people to engage and commit with what they recognised to be a precious opportunity
and some made remarkable personal sacrifices to keep young people on board. A
difficult impasse arose around the structuring of evening activities for young people
called to the Patrick Centre when not rehearsing. Rather than calling small groups,
the strategy was to call the whole group so as to meet the objective of encouraging
young people from across the city to establish relationships beyond their own youth
centre. The Operations Group suggested there should be structured activities to
keep the young people active and busy but there was reluctance from youth workers
to try and impose structure rather than to allow relationships to grow organically
through activities initiated by young people themselves. A varied approach was
taken with the Operations Group being the conduit through which this happened.
The Arts Award was introduced to the Tuesday sessions, in part to bring structure to
the sessions, which the Operations Group considered important to keep young
people involved and busy with each other. The Arts Award is a more substantial
challenge to young people and to youth workers than the accreditation system used
and favoured by youth services; for this reason perhaps it was very difficult for BRB
to get strong support from the youth workers in particular. There were also problems
with the apparent mismatch of pedagogies between the Arts Award teaching and the
pedagogical model established for the project as a whole. Young people, supported
by the observations of the Operations Group, felt that the Arts Award was imposed
on them rather than owned by them. The pedagogic expectation that young people
should develop a strong sense of ownership of the project does not seem to have
been true of the Arts Award element of training. However 40 young people gained
the Bronze Arts Award and will have that as a formal recognition of their involvement
in BB&Me. One achieved a Silver award. About 30 young people gained an ASDAN
Bronze award during the project.
A further pedagogic tension emerged because of the staging of the project, which
meant that different groups of professionals and youth workers were involved at
different stages and at times the continuity of what had been learnt by both sides was
compromised. For various reasons most of the dancers who led early sessions with
young people were not involved in the final stages of the project and some
professionals who joined in the later stages had not been a part of the early
dialogues about expectations and mission. So lessons learnt over the prior stages of
the project were not always passed on. Ironically, it was sometimes the young
people themselves who were the stable core of the project and in some cases we
observed they took responsibility for negotiating to keep the strengths of the project
alive. The overall pedagogic emphasis on listening to and acting on the voices of the
young people encouraged this. For similar reasons, in this final stage the core group
of youth workers was essential to the successful outcome because they understood
what was needed to keep the young people on track and focused on the final
Releasing positive energy
The project was primarily delivered through outreach at a number of youth centres in
the early stages. This was challenging in terms of monitoring the off-site progress
and standards of delivery across the project as a whole. There were also a large
number of youth workers, dance professionals and other artists involved in delivery
sequentially and simultaneously. This posed a considerable management problem in
ensuring quality and that different groups would be ready for performance and for
bringing their work together with that of other groups. Again the good and robust
relationships that the project manager and Operations Group established were
crucial in reporting on and tackling local problems.
In some cases we observed, particularly in the Cyrano drama work and the devising
period for Cinderella, there were marked variations in the quality of the pedagogic
inputs and in some cases no sense of progression from session to session where
these were led by different artists. In our observations we were struck by the
patience of young people on those few occasions when they were obviously treading
water and not being challenged sufficiently, or where they were being asked to
repeat work and ideas.
With hindsight and given the core importance of the impact of different pedagogies
on the longer term impacts of the project for young people, some early opportunity for
all involved to have conferred and established an agreed set of pedagogic principles
and expectations might have been valuable. It would also be useful to have a clearer
sense of what progression in dance might look like for this population, and what the
appropriate criteria might be for judging „accessible excellence‟ in this most physically
demanding of art forms.
In our view, the tensions between the pedagogies of classical dance and youth work
were effectively and productively managed to produce a positive dynamic rather than
being obstacles to the success of the project. By this we mean that the tensions
produced a positive energy that gave BB&Me its dynamic to move forward. There
were of course moments right up to the final stages of Cinderella rehearsals where
these tensions would boil over. But this can happen in any creative process and by
then the trust was in place between partners to cope. Amongst the core staff there
was an impressive tenacity to develop flexible and responsive strategies for working
effectively with young people in youth service settings whilst insisting on the values of
discipline and commitment required to achieve the highest standards of performance.
D2 Key roles and strategies involved in making a success of the project from a
pedagogic perspective
The BRB Department for Learning team were the glue that held the pedagogic
integrity of the project together at all stages. They were particularly important in
establishing an interface and dialogue between BRB and the youth service and with
different professionals and departments of BRB as an organisation committed to the
project. The dancers working for the Department for Learning were an invaluable
and accessible model both for young people and for other professional dancers who
were less experienced in working with young people. They were there for the young
people giving appropriate levels of challenge and support and when required to
translate dance ideas into terms that young people could relate to.
There was impressively detailed attention to the design and implementation of
processes throughout. The skills and experiences of the Department for Learning
team and the freelancers employed as project managers and animateurs were used
to anticipate problems and to design interventions to ensure the project progressed
smoothly. This was particularly important in terms of the working and operational
relationships between BRB, bayc and BYS, within different departments of BRB, and
in ensuring that young people‟s expectations were realistic and achievable.
There were occasional conflicts between process orientations and product
expectations particularly where there were differences of art form experience in
designing and implementing creative processes. The final stages of the project were
for the most part successfully developed and managed by a partnership between a
BRB choreographer with professional experience in motivational work with young
people and adults and an experienced drama animateur committed to the quality of
the learning process and giving young people ownership of the project. There was
from some a perception that the drama emphasis in the devising stages should have
given way to dance leadership as the project moved into the final stages before
performance. There was some frustration on both sides. Choreographers expressed
concerns that too many last minute changes were being made and that the young
people were being over protected. The drama animateur felt that the choreographers
were not all as well prepared and committed to the work with young people as he
might have expected.
Any production generates points of tension as pressure increases. In this case the
partners had a sound basis of previous collaboration and all were committed to a
good outcome for the participants. We are aware that almost everyone involved
gave more than was expected to ensure that the show was a success. The project
manager and staff in the Department for Learning absorbed and mediated many
issues as they arose during rehearsals at Thorp Street. Youth workers kept activities
going in their youth centres while managing the logistics of accompanying young
people during rehearsals and encouraging them as pressures mounted.
The creation of the Youth Arts Board, the offer of Arts Award accredited training and
the general respect for the ideas of the young people involved was a major strength
of the project which turned it from a performance project into what became for many
young people a transformational learning experience. The YAB was central to the
generation of creative ideas and as a voice for all the young people involved. They
were respected and listened to and they responded with great maturity and became
highly effective ambassadors for the project. The model of the YAB encouraged
mutual respect between the young people and professionals they worked with. We
observed on several occasions how closely young people and professionals really
listened to each other and took an interest in their different worlds and life stages.
The YAB were also important ambassadors for the youth service and came to
represent their aspirations for the young people they work with more generally. The
youth workers we spoke with were proud of the young members of the YAB.
Whilst there were some concerns with the pedagogical model of the delivery of the
Arts Award strand and in particular the disconnect between the young people‟s actual
experiences of BB&Me and the reporting and evidence requirements of the Award,
the offer of accreditation for these young people had an important “bigger picture”
impact. At the time the decision was taken to seek accreditation for young people‟s
learning in the project, there was a policy awareness that for some young people a
vocational qualification earned by reflective involvement in cultural or sporting activity
may be a key to future success.
The attention to detail that was a hallmark of the project was particularly evident in
the careful development of key dialogues amongst stakeholders. Again there was
mutual respect for the different working practices of professionals and respect for the
contributions the different agencies and individuals were making to the project and to
the lives of young people more generally. We observed sessions between youth
workers and BRB professionals and other artists contributing to the scheme that
were expertly facilitated and crucial to maintaining the trust and dialogue necessary
for the success of such a complex and relatively long term project. The Management
Group meeting of May 2010 which discussed excellence and inclusion was a
powerful demonstration of partners‟ ability to grasp the nettle of the dissonance
between different parties and to reach a solution, however different the ideologies or
practice which they naturally favoured. They were not prepared to just close down
the issue in the hope that it would go away. The sharing session between freelance
artists, project managers, facilitators and youth workers at the end of the exploratory
phase of the Cinderella project was a particularly inspiring example of successful
multi-agency working.
E Final reflections
E 1 Institutional learning, legacy and exit strategies
At the end of any such project those involved need to de-brief, take stock and look
ahead. They also need space to recover from such a major undertaking which
stretches individual and departmental resources. In mid 2010, the partners began to
consider the legacy of the project, but these discussions paused as the production
neared, perhaps also because of the uncertainties surrounding jobs in the youth
service. The role of Project Manager ended shortly after the production of Cinderella
meaning that the person with – arguably - the closest grasp of how the project
functioned on the ground was no longer with the Company. Others in the
Department for Learning shared their experience in an evaluation meeting in January
2011. It would have been good to retain some of that very targeted learning by
continuing a project manager post for a time at least or on a part-time basis, so as to
sustain momentum. Other changes in the youth service, in the Management Group
itself and in the funding context mean that since the December performance the
Department has been re-thinking the framework for future work in this area.
E 2 Factors supporting successful outcomes
The „Birmingham model‟ is not a template which is automatically transferable to any
similar project. However the success of BB&Me enables us to identify certain factors
which could inform planning for future work between arts organisations and agencies
akin to Birmingham Youth Service and Birmingham Association of Youth Clubs.
Along with the strong commitment from the Company and its partners, the ability to
develop over time and to address issues together – avoiding „quick-fix‟ solutions –
was a key factor. This depends on not just motivation but also resources.
Having the right people in place at the right time and having effective management
structures is all-important. On a project of this duration, some professionals will
come in at particular points and will have to learn about the project, its aims and the
young people with whom they are working. In BB&Me, this was usually managed in
a positive way but there were occasions when „later arrivals‟ needed time to
understand the aims of the project.
A sequence of varied activities, challenges and opportunities, with a flexible and
responsive style enabled partners to develop mutual trust and young people to
develop skills and personal confidence.
The „consolidation‟ phases, though less showy, were very important in preparing for a
final showcase performance which undoubtedly had the „wow factor‟. They enabled
all parties, young people and adults, to perform at their best, whether it was on stage
or in supporting the production in rehearsals and behind the scenes. This
groundwork attracted no headlines but was the foundation needed to manage the
more pressurised final stages.
At every point the original commitment to giving young people a voice in the creative
process and the management of the project was sustained, even at the times when it
was hard to see how best to achieve that. For the young people themselves BB&Me
was as big an opportunity for personal growth as it was a chance to acquire new
skills and be part of a major performance. The project was indeed transformational
but such success does not come by Cinderella magic: it was created by the vision,
commitment, energy, time and resources given by individuals and organisations.
Meanwhile the reflexive approach taken by the Department for Learning and the
interaction with other Departments during this project mean that the Company has a
strong basis from which to plan future projects.
Department for Culture, Media and Sport (2004) Government and the Value of
Culture. Paper by the Minister for the Department for Children, Schools and
Families, Tessa Jowell.
Galloway, S. and Neelands, J. (2010) Interim Report to the Management Group for
the Birmingham Royal Ballet and Birmingham Joint Youth Services Project: Ballet,
Birmingham and Me (March).
McMaster, B. (2008) Supporting Excellence in the Arts
Appendix 1 A note on the evaluation process
Evaluation takes many forms. From the start it was agreed that this would be a
qualitative evaluation so as to capture the professional learning which BB&Me would
offer. BRB also wanted to record issues relating to working in a partnership. The
evidence therefore is not statistical but comes mainly from the statements of people
involved in the project as BB&Me developed.
In autumn 2008 the partners were still about to bid for funding which would enable
the project to address its specified aims. This required an act of faith (Galloway and
Neelands, 2010). It also meant that our evaluation had to be flexible as decisions
were made and according to how the project evolved. We welcomed the opportunity
to see how the project would develop from that embryonic stage. The contract for
the evaluation of the „Birmingham Royal Ballet and Joint Birmingham Youth Services
Partnership Project‟ was signed in March 2009. Our interim report (Galloway and
Neelands, 2010) recorded the position after the first year‟s activity.
In the first year, most activity took place in the five youth centres and it was important
to see what this entailed for all those involved, including the musicians and dance
instructors who worked with the young people on their home ground. We also saw
the very different premises and facilities and approaches of the youth workers.
Appendix 2 summarises the contacts made during the project but does not itemise
every telephone conversation eg to set up meetings. These less formal telephone
contacts can still be instructive about how the project is progressing. It excludes
discussions prior to the first young people‟s focus group in spring 2009 and
contributions to a proposed survey in mid 2009 by the Department for Learning. Nor
does it itemise the more informal conversations with youth workers at events. The
nature of youth work meant that it was often as effective to have informal discussions
with people as events proceeded, rather than arranging formal interviews which
encroached on their time. The resources available to us meant that telephone
interviews were also cost-effective, once the project was under way and people were
familiar with the evaluation team.
Many of the agencies and people involved in BB&Me have told us that they have put
into this project more than was at first foreseen or costed. This is true of the
evaluation as well.
Because BB&Me succeeded in attracting funds from various sponsors, the project
team had to meet the monitoring and evaluation requirements of each separate
funder. In addition, BYS had its own approach to evaluating the young people‟s
experience. Our evaluation has centred on the professional development which the
project offered to adults and the ways in which the partnership developed.
In the UK, this project has been unusual in the configuration of the partners, the
degree of influence and decision-making given to the young people, the amount of
flexibility built in. The national economic context within which it took place cannot be
disregarded. It has also had unusually powerful outcomes for the young people,
adults involved and the organisations and we trust that this report conveys those.
Appendix 2 Summary of data collection Dec 2008 to March 2011
Meeting with Director for Learning and Clore
Attended Management Group meeting
University of
Meeting with Director for Learning and Project
Attended BRB Performance Pomp and
Youth Centre 3 visit
12 Dec
6 Feb
6 Feb
6 March
Youth Centre 3
Youth Centre 3 visit
Youth Centre 2 visit
Youth Centre 3
Youth Centre 2
Youth Centre 2 visit
Young people‟s focus group
Youth workers‟ meeting
Youth Centre 4 visit
Still Life final rehearsal visit
Attended Still Life A Celebration
Bayc interview
BYS interview
Meeting with Director for Learning and Project
Attended Management Group Meeting
Youth Centre 2
Youth Centre 4
Patrick Centre
Patrick Centre
Pershore Road
Oak Hill Centre
29 April
5 May
7 April
2 April
23 May
28 May
29 May
26 May
2 June
29 July
10 Sept
Interviews with Director for Learning and Project
Youth Centre 2 visit: observed workshop,
discussions with youth worker.
Youth Centre 3 visit: observed workshop,
discussion with youth workers and lead drama
Telephone interview with BRB Dance Coordinator
Telephone interview with freelance dance teacher
Attended performance : Sharing of work relating to
10 Sept
Youth Centre 2
30 Nov
Youth Centre 3
2 Dec
Patrick Centre
3 Dec
17 Dec
12 Dec
Contact during 2009 is separated from 2010 because much was learned during this
year without which it would not have been possible to move into a higher gear in
2010. Although there were important staff changes in the project team, almost all the
youth workers involved in late 2010 had been there on the project in spring 2009. At
the same time, bringing in new professional staff late in 2009 and early 2010
energised the project, so December 2009 proved to be a turning point as noted in our
Interim Report of April 2010.
Meeting with Director for Learning and Project
Planned observation of Youth Workers and Artistic
Director meeting: BYS cancelled. Instead informal
interview with new BB&Me Artistic Director
Observed Youth Artistic Board first meeting
Observed Youth Service Team Building day
Telephone interview with BYS Lead Officer
Lab day for artists and youth workers led by Artistic
Telephone interview Exploration phase Artist
Exploration session
Exploration session
Exploration session
Telephone interview youth worker (Youth Centre 1)
Exploration session
Exploration session
Artists & youth workers‟ Exploration feedback
Observe „Intensive‟ day
Observe „Intensive‟ day
Observe „Intensive‟ day
Group interview with dancers/choreographers
Telephone interview with artistic director
Attended Management Group Meeting („legacy‟
Attended Youth Arts Board Meeting („legacy‟
Attended Steering Group meeting
Observation of rehearsal
Telephone interview BYS Lead Officer BB&Me
Telephone interview Arts Award Facilitator
Telephone interview with bayc representative
Telephone interview with Deputy Head of Youth
Interview with BTB Finance Director
Interview with BRB Development Director
Observed classes, rehearsals for performance,
met college students doing hair and make-up.
Attended young people‟s „Cinderella‟
Attended Management Group meeting
Attended part of youth workers de-briefing meeting
Follow-up focus group with
Telephone interview with BB&Me Ballet mistress
Telephone interview with BB&Me Director of
Digbeth conference
BRB studio
Youth Centre 1
Youth Centre 5
Youth Centre 2
Youth Centre 3
Youth Centre 4
BRB studio
BRB studios
BRB studios
BRB studios
BRB studio
18 Jan
3 Feb
16 Feb
19 Feb
25 Feb
26 Feb.
27 April
6 May
7 May
10 May
11 May
12 May
15 May
26 May
17 Aug
18 Aug
20 Aug
20 Aug
7 Sept
21 Sept
21 Sept
27 Sept
27 Sept
10 Nov
11 Nov
23 Nov
23 Nov
1 Dec
1 Dec
1 Dec
7 Dec
16 Dec
Central Birmingham
Youth Centre
2011 12
12 Jan
15 Jan
8 Feb
Telephone interview with BB&Me Artistic Director
Telephone interview with BB&Me Project Manager
Meeting with Director for Learning
University of
16 Feb
This list excludes team meetings at the University of Warwick and contact with
different parties covering arrangements for meetings or de-briefing, which can often
provide important information and comment about the progress of the project.
Appendix 3 Example of interview agenda
BRB dancers/choreographers group interview 12-01-11
Personal motivation (Covered in August 2010 group interview)
Professional learning – general
What have you gained in general from the project in terms of your own
professional learning?
Professional learning – specific
Learning points – how? From whom? From what? Eg colleagues/dancers,
young people, youth workers, others? Projects‟ format/process/location?
Hard/soft skills?
Organisational development
What has the organisation learned for future projects?
Young people’s development
Eg technical skills, attitudinal etc
Experience of working in partnership with BYS and bayc?
Explicit roles? Grey areas? Challenges/hurdles faced and how overcome?
Pointers for future partnerships?
What worked well in the partnership?
Disappointments or unforeseen successes?
Appendix 4 Project cost summary - Ballet, Birmingham and Me‫٭‬
Support in Kind
Staff Costs
Birmingham Royal Ballet
Birmingham City Council Youth Service
Facilities and Premises
BCC Youth Centres
Total Support in Kind
Project management
Training and qualifications
Health Programme
Work Experience Programme
Young people travel and subsistence
Creative Workshop programme
Artistic Team - director, designer,
choreographers etc
Production Costs - Sets and Costumes
Production Costs - Running (venue hire, labour,
orchestra etc)
Project documentation, PR, marketing etc
Total Expenditure
Total Project Cost including support in kind
Source: BRB Department of Finance March 2011
‫٭‬Work continues in 2011 on healthy lifestyles, work experience and legacy