A story by Paragon Music
SPiN is a programme of inclusive dance workshops and performances for young people with disabilities and their carers. The workshops are facilitated by a team of dance and music practitioners as well as disabled dancers from Paragon’s older inclusive dance group, M3.
What SPiN did
Paragon has gone through a tumultuous time over the past two years as a result of the pandemic. It has impacted participants we work with, many of whom have underlying health conditions and are anxious about resuming ‘in person’ activities in their communities. Securing venues with accessible space has been more difficult because of Sunday closures to save costs, due to covid and the Cost of Living Crisis. So all weekend activity has to happen on Saturdays, forcing arts organisations such as Paragon to compete for fewer available time slots.
Ten key staff left in the past two years to move abroad, retrain or change career, plus two of our operational team were on maternity leave, which has had a major impact on our resources. So far, we have delivered 3 taster workshops in schools with between 10-15 participants at each session, and we have held a series of 10 workshops on Saturday afternoons at Platform Theatre between April and July 2023, which were poorly attended.
Despite pupils enjoyment during tasters and their enthusiasm for attending SPiN, schools were unable to follow up with the parents, so we had a negligible response with no way of following up directly with the parents. Platform’s marketing department displayed leaflets, posters and kept their audiences informed, we also contacted Cerebral Palsy Scotland and Spina Bifida Scotland to invite their members.
In July we delivered a taster with WhizzKidz UK in Lochwinnoch and through new partners, Westmarc, who have advertised SPiN to their members. We’ve secured workshop space for 9 workshops at Platform from September - December 2023 with three young people signed up, and we expect to reach up to 10 participants and 15 carers. Despite the challenges, we know from the tasters that children and carers are excited to take part in SPiN.
What Paragon Music has learned
We have developed new partnerships with Whizzkids and Westmarc and are keen to further strengthen these connections through future collaborations. While there have been a number of challenges along the way, we have used this as a learning experience and believe we have shown resilience in the face of staff and venue shortages. Our connection with Platform Theatre has developed in this time and we have been able to train new members of staff who are now fully fledged Paragon practitioners delivering our workshops in the community.
How Paragon Music has benefitted from the funding
We are extremely grateful to Better Breaks for their understanding and allowing us to extend our grant period to reach the people we know would benefit from this activity. By granting us this additional time to deliver the last block of workshops, we will be able to gather feedback and create a strong case for a longer-term SPiN project with high impact.