Inspirations for Encounter

AegisToday we begin fundraising for an exciting new research and development project Encounter. We have a shared interest, originating in our combined arts and research practices, in exploring transitional spaces for adolescents, particularly for those who are vulnerable or marginalised in their social and school environments. We draw on our combined interests and passions for working with young people to begin this investigation with the working question:

How can we create transitional spaces by using the arts with vulnerable young people?

Our Starting Points

Alex McIntyre’s interest in transitional space is informed by her exploration of sculpture, exhibition curation and participatory arts practice. The production and viewing of sculpture in particular is seen as a process in which the subject is consciously embodied and so routed in present experience. Her current work as a practitioner with Art for Change, a creative learning project in collaboration with Watford Palace Theatre and three schools in Watford, demonstrates engagement with the use of creative processes to enable expression, conversation and transformation. The project uses the arts as a means to de-stigmatise mental health and to provoke discussion amongst young people across the schools. Her observation and reflection on conversations with young people and teachers regarding the challenges of discussing mental health has revealed ways in which the use of the arts might help us understand, re-imagine, and so change, responses to mental illness. Alex’s participatory practice has evolved through previous work producing sculptural installations and exhibitions, which aimed to engage the viewer in moments of interaction and response.   Visitors were invited to construct their journey within an exhibition space by reacting creatively to sculptures and written stimuli.

Martin Heaney is completing a PhD, which explores theatre in relation to ideas of transitional spaces of the male adolescent. He is particularly interested in exploring testing Donald Winnicott’s ideas of transitional space, that the event of inner transition is made possible only in relation to ‘the outside world of people, environments and events’ and exploring the arts in relation to Massumi’s ideas of ‘emergent’ transitional space where identities are played with and rehearsed.

Together, we wish to investigate how we can construct a dynamic transitional space for young people that has, in its construction, multiple dimensions of relational care, art-making, sensory engagement and productivity.

Brent Museum and archives lr2 Our Context

We are responding to the increasing presence of mental health issues for young people in Hertfordshire. One in ten children and young people aged 5 to 16 nationally have a clinically diagnosed mental health disorder and around one in seven has less severe problems[1]. Research data of the Hertfordshire Young People’s Manifesto 2014-2015 indicates that the overall majority of young people in Hertfordshire may not know how to keep themselves emotionally and mentally well. It also identifies a lack of funding for CAMHS in Hertfordshire, which means that many young people are waiting up to 6 months between an initial meeting and regular professional support.[2]

Our Objective

Through our research, we want to create a model of practice and research findings that we will share with other agencies. Through the exhibition, seminar and conference contributions we have planned, we aim to create a unique resource for Hertfordshire agencies to develop imaginative new pathways for young people to engage with the arts and increase their emotional wellbeing.

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[1] Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer 2012, Our Children Deserve Better: Prevention Pays

[2] Hertfordshire Young People’s Manifesto.


Hertfordshire’s Young Cultural Ambassadors 2014-15 – Apply now!

IMG_5264After a first successful pilot year, applications are welcomed for the Hertfordshire Young Cultural Ambassador Programme, funded by the Royal Opera House (ROH) Bridge in partnership with The Wroxham and Sir John Lawes Teaching Schools, their school alliances and local cultural partners in Hertfordshire. The project is managed and delivered by HertsCreation Community Interest Company.

The programme aims to increase opportunities for young people to participate in the arts and culture, develop leadership skills, and create new connections between young people in primary (KS2) and secondary schools and cultural organisations in Hertfordshire. It will support young people to lead arts activities in schools, enhance their school and local cultural offer and increase engagement in cultural activity amongst their peers.

Applications are invited from primary and secondary schools in Hertfordshire for 10 places on the programme with anticipated engagement of up to 8 young people in each school. This is an opportunity for schools to participate in a programme of student-led cultural activity which has had proven impacts in widening schools’ cultural engagement and promoting whole-school change through the arts.

For more information and an application form contact Deadline for applications is 24 September 2014.

Storytelling Masterclass for Adults, with Children in Mind


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Led by Storyteller Danyah Miller

If I can’t be a teacher I want to be a Danyah…..”   

7 year old child to her mother

Saturday 12 July 9.30am – 4pm, Woolenwick Infants and Nursery School


Who is this day for?

All those who are involved and working with children (Primary Age) including:

  • Head Teachers, teachers and support staff, parent governors
  • All adults helping children to strengthen their imaginations and thereby advance their literacy skills

Storytelling with children

  • Strengthens the imagination
  • Helps to build literacy skills and a love of language, reading and writing
  • Positively impacts on listening, concentration and memory
  • Aids confidence, public speaking and team building

During this professional development day you will

  • Actively participate in a range of interactive storytelling activities
  • Explore your unique storytelling voiceRe-discover, develop and enhance existing skills and techniques
  • Develop confidence and be inspired to take risks
  • Be offered exciting ideas to use with children in your care.

Places are £100 per person with lunch included. 20% Early Bird discount until 10 June 2014.

To book or for more information contact with the subject heading Storytelling Masterclass.

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Woolenwick Infants and Nursery School: Free CPD Training and Celebration

During the past year, HertsCreation have worked with our lead school, Woolenwick Infants and Nursery School on a creative learning project: How can we develop our confidence in telling and writing through the craft of storytelling?

Working with Danyah Miller, Storyteller, Theatre Producer and, we think secretly, Magic Maker, Woolenwick Infants and Nursery have embarked on a  whole school project drawing on the craft of storytelling to enthuse and build children’s imaginations, creativity and language to inspire them to write.

Danyah undertook three twilight training sessions with staff at the beginning of the project to give staff the chance to explore, experience and use the techniques of storytelling that would support them whilst they developed their personal storytelling voice.  She then worked alongside them in class with extraordinary results…..

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“How can we develop our confidence in telling and writing through the craft of storytelling?” with Danyah Miller.

Thursday 8 May 4-5.30pm, Woolenwick Infants and Nursery School, Bridge Road West, Stevenage, SG1 2NU. 

This Free twilight CPD and Celebration will:

  • Reveal key findings and impacts of the project
  • Offer practical guidance for attending teachers and practitioners on approaches that lead from storytelling to writing
  • Offer perspectives on the school journey with Danyah Miller and staff.

Who is this twilight for?

– Infants, Nursery or Primary school staff, Early Years Practitioners and Teachers, Creative Professionals, budding storytellers and parents.   

Please rsvp to with the subject heading Storytelling Twilight. Please include your name, organization or school, number of places requested and contact details in the email.  For more information on HertsCreation C.I.C and our Creative Learning Programmes contact

Danyah Miller will star in  ‘I believe in Unicorns’ with Olivier Award nominated Wizard Presents, in a show which brings best-selling children’s author Michael Morpurgo’s enchanting tale to life, in an ‘utterly magical interactive show’ (The Stage), set in a library filled with books. Directed by winner of two awards for innovation in children’s theatre, Dani Parr and designed by Kate Bunce. Produced in association with Royal & Derngate Northampton and Watford Palace Theatre.

Conference: Cultural Skills Provision for 14-19 Year Olds in Hertfordshire, Feb 7 2014


Yart Consultation workshop with Young People lead by HertsCreation and Socani, Autumn 2013

Yart Consultation workshop with Young People lead by HertsCreation and Socani, Autumn 2013

On February 7th, HertsCreation will be sharing the results of research funded by Broxbourne Council and Royal Opera House Bridge into cultural skills provision for 14 – 19 year olds in Hertfordshire. Co-Director Martin Heaney will share first findings of the research in a seminar and workshop for an invited audience from the Hertfordshire arts and cultural sector in Broxbourne.

The focus of the research has been to identify gaps, needs and opportunities in cultural skills development. Particular areas of investigation have included engaging young people not in education and employment and education (NEETs) in pathways to Further Education and in progression routes from FE courses into the creative industries. The presentation will highlight areas of best practice and key perspectives on developing the sector from interviews with industry leaders.

Recent years have seen the erosion of networks and forums for professionals to develop joined-up, cross-sector approaches to education and the arts. Acknowledging this challenge, the seminar presentation will be followed by a workshop designed to encourage further discussion and map potential routes to build capacity. The workshop will also offer information on opportunities to find out more about further funding routes and partnership investment opportunities. A final research paper will be available from the end of February.

For more information on the event, please contact Martin Heaney:

HertsCreation Autumn Newsletter 2013


It’s been an exciting year so far for HertsCreation! We began life as a Community Interest Company in October 2012 with a busy period of funding applications and meetings across the county with organisations in the voluntary and local government sectors.

Although the funding climate remains challenging, one striking feature across the Herts landscape is the growing number of networks and hubs for arts and cultural activity, including the Hertfordshire Arts Partnership and support of Royal Opera House (ROH) Bridge.  We have been pleasantly surprised at the number of doors that were opened for us by different individuals and groups with a vision for the arts. We are fortunate that these conversations are now helping us build a strong programme of activity this autumn. So what are we up to?

June 20, YCA Launch Event, , Royal Opera House

Our Activities in 2013 Continue reading