Delight programmes in action

It is so rewarding to see the impact of the work we do in person, and an important reminder of why we do what we do.

By Ella Breen

Boy sharing his Delight in Watts journal for positive feedback

Now that restrictions have eased, over the Spring term the Delight team have had more opportunities to see our programmes in person. I had the chance to observe one of our in-school Rainforest Retreat art sessions, Delight in Watts exhibitions and a Delight in Shakespeare in-school rehearsal and children’s performance.

“Observations are so key for all of the team; it keeps us connected to the work.”

Jess (Delight Head of Programmes & People)

Delight in Shakespeare rehearsals and performances

I was lucky enough to see both a rehearsal lesson lead by a Guildford Shakespeare Company actor and the final performance by children from St Mary’s Primary School. It was so amazing to see how far the children had come from the initial rehearsal a few weeks beforehand to the finished production, and especially great to see the massive audience turn-out of friends and family. I could feel it had been a while since having a performance with external visitors. The children, teachers, and parents were all very excited!

Narrators on stage at their final performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Manorfield Primary School

“I thought the whole thing was amazing, it was the first time I’d seen any of our programmes in action and I loved every minute of it. The children were so engaged throughout, and the actors looked like they were having a great time. I was really impressed with the teacher participation as well.”

Jo (Delight Finance & Office Manager)

Rainforest Retreat in-class session

For our newer programmes, it is useful for us to see the classroom in action to help with the material development of the programme and other projects.

I went along to Riverview CofE Primary School to observe a Rainforest Retreat lesson lead by Hannah, our Paintbox arts partner. The aim for this lesson was to create a diorama (3D miniature scene) looking at rainforest animals, foliage and treescapes. Although some of the children were very energetic and struggled to sit through the initial teaching, this enthusiasm later turned into a classroom full of artists and amazing work.

Rainforest Retreat wooden bird mobile display

“However, many months in the planning, a programme can only fully be realised once it is in action in the classroom where the realities of children’s stamina, motor skills and time constraints can be surprising. There were lots of learnings, but this is an area that I feel Delight is good at, feeding these learnings into the next programme evolution. My favourite part of my observation was how kind and supportive the children were in helping their classmates that were struggling to finish.”

Jess (Delight Head of Programmes & People)

Delight in Watts exhibitions

In the last term we have seen two amazing Delight in Watts exhibitions at Watts Gallery – Artist’s Village. For some of the children’s families this was their first experience of a gallery, and both exhibitions were great, positive celebratory experiences for the schools and visitors.

The initial exhibition was by St John’s Primary School children whose project explored the question ‘What do I want to be when I grow up?’. It was interesting to hear the children’s wide range of aspirations, from chocolate taster to astronaut to footballers and dancers!

The more recent exhibition by pupils at Darley Dene Primary School showcased their magical hybrid animals and mythical creatures. It was great to see the children’s vivid imaginations expressed through their art and to listen to the children’s stories about their animals.

Families gather round at the portrait exhibition by St John’s pupils

“This was my first Delight in Watts exhibition, and it definitely surpassed my expectations as I had only seen images of previous exhibitions beforehand. It was so nice to see the children feeling good about themselves and talking so well about their work.”

Maureen (Delight Fundraising Assistant)

I am looking forward to seeing more of the programmes in action during the summer term, we have Delight in Dance performances and more Delight in Watts exhibitions to look forward to. Stay tuned via our social media for frequent news and updates!

Want to support Delight Charity? Find out how, here.

A Fun Day Filming For Delight in Shakespeare

A great resource for Delight’s programmes are the instructional videos which support the teachers with in-school delivery. I went along to the filming of the Delight in Shakespeare videos with the Guildford Shakespeare Company to find out how it’s done. By Ella Breen

This was quite an intensive day of filming with lots of content and takes – especially compared to the Delight in Dance filming, which I had previously attended.

We filmed in The Mill Studio of the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford. The venue was made good use of – brick walls and curtains became stage entrances and exits, chairs became props and the theatre lighting helped to create stage atmosphere.

The script was very layered and it got a bit confusing. At points it was difficult to determine if mistakes were intentional examples inserted for the children to learn from or actual slip ups. However, towards the end it all fell into place and worked well! Watching the actors perform the Witches scene from Macbeth using different styles of acting was very entertaining – I think the children will really enjoy watching this.

“What’s really exciting is that, after a year off, we are getting back into the schools, which is going to be amazing!”

Ant Stones – Guildford Shakespeare Company

It was great to see how a professional theatre company explains the acting skills and techniques in a way that primary aged children can engage with.

Between takes, I caught up with two members of the Guildford Shakespeare Company team to get some insight into how they got started and their involvement with the Delight in Shakespeare project.

Matt Pinches (Cofounder): “I’m one of the two cofounders and producers at Guilford Shakespeare Company. We founded the company 15 years ago and I am so proud of the journey the company – and everybody who we have come in contact with – has been on.

“We work with some incredibly talented individuals whether that’s actors, directors, designers, choreographers, or writers. It’s a huge honour to work with so many wonderful people. It’s great just to make theatre either for big audiences or for school audiences, it’s a real pleasure.”

Ant Stones (Head of Education): “I’ve been working with Delight for seven years now, so this is our seventh year of taking plays into schools. It’s got bigger and better every single year. During the pandemic we couldn’t do live shows – we filmed all our shows and the children filmed their shows. What’s really exciting is that, after a year off, we are getting back into the schools, which is going to be amazing!”

Josh Thompson, from Wiggly Line, directing the shot.

The group discuss the next shot.

The sound man takes a well-earned break.

The GSC actor’s rehearse the next shot.

I have some film and photography experience and am interested in developing this, so it was helpful for me to observe how the specialist camera, sound and lighting work together. It was particularly interesting to see how sensitive the sound equipment was to external noises such as cars and people outside the studio, and even pigeons!

Delight CEO Kathryn Mills laughing/sneezing.

Thanks to Josh Thompson at Wiggly Line the takes have now all been edited into 3-7 minute films – and they look great! We are all really looking forward to them being shown in schools when the programme restarts in January 2022.

Find out more about our Delight in Shakespeare programme and Guildford Shakespeare Company.

Filming Delight in Dance with Made by Katie Green

Katie Green practising her monologue.

Before Delight delivers its programmes in schools, a massive amount of resource preparation needs to be done. Instructional videos are just one of these resources and are key to supporting teachers and making the learning accessible. I went along to document professional dance company, Made by Katie Green, as they filmed the Delight in Dance videos with filmmaker Rosie Powell. By Ella Breen.

Coming from a fine art background it was interesting for me to see how a commercial film is produced, as opposed to in a fine art context.

I’m a passionate photographer and it was a fun challenge to try to capture the dancer’s movement as I am more used to still subjects. I think I took some great action shots that convey the fun atmosphere, which I am sure will also come through in the videos.

Watching Katie Green direct the choreography and the dancers was especially amusing. I captured some great shots of the dancers having fun and getting stuck into their hero vs villain roles – it was easy to see why the kids love the dance programme so much.

“Today has been really fun having a lovely group of dancers and working with the brilliant Rosie.”


Katie Green (Director of Made by Katie Green).

The dancers dressed up in costumes so that the children will be able to easily identify the heroes (blue capes) and villains (black capes). A white background was used to make the dancers pop and coloured floor dots marked the edge of the dance stage.

Between takes, I got a chance to speak to the choreographer, Katie Green, and the dancers, who clearly enjoyed the day too.

Katie (Artistic Director, Made by Katie Green): “Today has been really fun having a lovely group of dancers and working with the brilliant Rosie to put together the films for our upcoming project.”

Chloe (Dancer, Made by Katie Green): “I’ve been doing the project now for a year and I’ve really, really enjoyed working with the children… I’m excited to get back into the classroom.”

Later that day, myself and fellow Kickstarter Tasmin had the opportunity to join the Delight in Dance CPD (Continued Professional Development) session for teachers, which involved taking part in some of the dance exercises I had watched being filmed.

Seeing how the film translates into the programme delivery was a great way to round off my knowledge of the Dance project. A great day was had by all.


Find out more about Delight in Dance, Made by Katie Green and the Yvonne Arnaud theatre space we filmed at.


Shréya raises £4000 for charity

Delight CEO Kathryn Mills receiving Shréya’s donation.

Delight’s newest fundraiser swims to success. By Ella Breen.

Over the summer, 10-year-old Shréya raised more than £4000 for Delight and Msalura Primary School in Malawi by swimming 1km every day for 34 days in Caterham’s De Stafford pool. She was inspired to take on the challenge after David Walliams, one of her favourite authors, swam 34km across the English Channel in one of the top 50 fastest times.

Shréya says: “Seeing all the donations for good causes really moved me and made me want to do it myself. I used to really struggle with confidence and being shy both in and outside of the classroom… That was before I developed a passion for arts and drama, which helped me develop my self-esteem and grow my confidence. I want to give other children the same opportunity. Every penny we raise is going to help hundreds of children.”

“Every penny we raise is going to help hundreds of children.”

Shréya

The money raised for Delight will go towards helping more children in Surrey gain access to arts-based learning through the Delight in Shakespeare programme, which aims to build drama skills and confidence in children and develop teachers’ drama practice in the classroom.

Shréya at the pool.

The other half of the money raised will go to Msalura primary school in Malawi which is partnered with Shréya’s primary school and offers a programme aimed at getting girls into education.

‘Thanks to a generous donation from Essendene Lodge School we have been able to offer further help with providing PPE, as schools re-opened on 22nd February, and also provide some food aid of maize and beans to the most needy children which we hope will tide their families over until the harvest later this month. I am happy to confirm that we will sponsor eight new 14-year-old girls to begin secondary education, bringing the total to 20. The overall cost of paying fees, an annual allowance for books and equipment and final year exam fees comes to around £1,500 a year and we have been able to sustain this commitment thanks to regular donations from our generous supporters.’ (Source)

What an amazing achievement, Shréya! Delight is very grateful for your incredible fundraising efforts.


Find out more about Shréya’s fundraising challenge on her JustGiving page.

Want to support Delight Charity? Find out how, here.


New Kickstart Team Gets Creative

Ella paints some example artworks for the ‘Out of this World’ programme.

Delight’s newest team members, Ella and Tasmin, take us behind the scenes as they settle in to their first few weeks. By Ella Breen.

Artswork

Tasmin and I have joined the team at Delight on the Kickstart programme as the new Arts Programme Administration Assistant and Communications Assistant. Our first few weeks have been spent completing training with Artswork, who provided us with the work placement at Delight for the next six months. Anna and Jane have been great at welcoming us to the Artswork team, encouraging us to sit in on meetings and inviting guest speakers along to talk to the group.

The other Kickstart employees are on placements in various roles at locations such as Poole Museum, Southampton SEP, In Focus, and the New Carnival Company on the Isle of White.

Tasmin and I are very lucky to have the opportunity to work both from home and in the office, as the pandemic has made this impossible for many of the other Kickstarters. Working with people face to face, I find, helps massively to build connections with the team and focus on tasks.

Preparations

At Delight, we’ve been busy preparing for the start of the new school year. Two of the projects we have been working on are the ‘Out of this World’ and ‘Rainforest Retreat’ art programmes. This preparation involves packing individual art boxes for pupils and teachers, so that they are ready to start creating when the programmes begin next term.

Example artworks loaded up to dry.

“I would have absolutely loved the opportunity to take part in something like this as a child interested in art!”

Ella Breen

We have been preparing lots of example works, which teachers can use to show the children what they will be making. This includes space textures, wooden birds, jungle dioramas, and colourful creatures painted onto acetate. The process of making these has been really enjoyable as both Tasmin and I have a background in the creative arts and love to paint. It has also been useful to take part in the making side of the projects as we get a better understanding of what the children will be doing in the programmes and how it relates to our work.

Examples of birds painted on acetate sheets for the ‘Rainforest Retreat’ programme.

CPD for Teachers

A big part of Delight’s programmes is the continued professional development (CPD) for teachers. This is an opportunity for teachers to learn and gain practical and transferrable skills in the creative arts to use in classrooms. We have had the chance to take part in the ‘Delight in Watts’, ‘Out of this World’, and ‘Delight in Dance’ CPD training sessions. it is useful for us as team members to attend these to see how the sessions are structured and how the teaching side works (and it’s also fun to take part in the activities).

We also met two of the education team from Delight’s art partner organisation, Watts Gallery Artists’ Village. It was exciting to hear their insight about the programme, to get information about logistics and to see the gallery grounds. The partnership Delight has with Watts Gallery is an amazing opportunity for schoolchildren, providing interactivity and a chance for them to display their work in the gallery at the end of the programme. I would have absolutely loved the opportunity to take part in something like this as a child interested in art!

After the October half term, the programmes will begin in schools. I will be following along closely with this and documenting the children and their projects, so stay tuned for some exciting updates about our programmes in the coming months.

Tasmin packs the art materials ready to send to schools.

Find out more about Our Programmes.

Contact Delight to find out more.


Adapting to the ‘new normal’ in 2020 and beyond

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted charities across the world, each forced to adapt and innovate in their own way. Aliyah Zaidi speaks to Delight, Paintbox and Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village, to find out how, together, they navigated the new challenges.

When lockdown forced schools to close in March 2020 it posed an immediate threat to the education and wellbeing of children, the impact of which is only being truly understood now.

At the time the pandemic took hold, Delight was delivering arts education programmes in schools across Surrey, all of which had to stop with lockdown. Determined to respond to the challenge, Delight set about exploring new ways to deliver their programmes to support children, their families and schools through these difficult times.

“Thank you for making it all happen. It’s more than a glimmer of joy, it’s a bright shining light and will make so many children happy.”

Head Teacher, Surrey Primary School

Responding to COVID-19

In July 2020, Delight launched two COVID-19 emergency response programmes, Bags and Boxes of Delight.

Bags of Delight delivered 6,000 books directly to the homes of children in partnership with 17 primary schools, while Boxes of Books supported 6 schools in distributing 4,742 books to 1,654 children before they closed their doors. Box of Delight, created in partnership with Paintbox, delivered 2000 boxes, each containing four art activities for children to work through independently at home. The children’s final ‘Box of Delight’ creations – a collection of beautiful, individually decorated 3D birds – were assembled in ‘Swoop’, a special celebratory installation at Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village.

Aliyah Zaidi: “What did you do when Covid-19 hit?

Kathryn Mills, CEO Delight: “The long-established partnership we have with schools and our arts partners Paintbox and Watts Gallery – Artists’ – Village enabled us to respond quickly. It was all quite organic and involved a lot of back and forth on ideas. We knew we wanted to keep the ethos of our intensive programmes meaning that anything created had to include a ‘wow’ element, progressive learning outcomes, artistic learning, and some gentle academic learning throughout and a sharing opportunity.”

Aliyah: “How was Box of Delight developed and delivered?”

Hannah Maiya-Mills, Paintbox: “After realising the severity of the situation, our thoughts turned to how worrying it must be for children. We wanted to create something positive and fun to keep them occupied and engaged in their education. It also had to provide everything they could possibly need; we didn’t assume that the children had art materials of their own at home.

After realising the severity of the situation, our thoughts turned to how worrying it must be for children.

PAINTBOX

We felt it was important to give clear, understandable instructions, so that every child, regardless of their age or ability, would be able to access the activities. A child may have been in a situation where their parents or carers were working, and so we needed to ensure that they could complete it on their own.”

Kathryn: “The Delight team worked incredibly hard and are really committed to making sure we could reach children and families. The teaching staff really supported the outreach element, getting the boxes out to the families at home. We have an incredible collective of arts companies we work with as well as freelance artists and it is the creative and agile mind of these organisations that enabled both our Boxes and Bags of Delight to be possible at all.”

Celebrating the Children’s Art at Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village

Aliyah: “How did the ‘Swoop’ exhibition come about?”

Sarah Jarvis, Watts Gallery – Artists’s Village: There is a connection with birds, in that we have artwork of birds in the gallery. George Fredric Watts and Mary Watts, artists and founders of Watts Gallery, both had a love for nature and birds. For Box of Delight we made resource sheets introducing the gallery and the artwork in the gallery. We also helped to design an activity which would involve the children in creating something that they could contribute to the gallery through the Swoop exhibition.”

“I liked all of the delight because it takes my mind off everything thats going on and makes me happy.”

Participating Child

Hannah: “All the work we did to create the Boxes of Delight and get them to children happened when the gallery was closed due to covid. It lined up really nicely, so that when the school term finished in July the gallery had just reopened, and we could exhibit the children’s birds.

Our hope was that the children visit the gallery with their family and find their bird in the exhibition. To make this easy for families, each Box of Delight included a ‘golden ticket’ – although access to the gallery is free for all children, adults are required to purchase a ticket. The golden ticket enabled one adult to visit the gallery free of charge.”

Swoop Exhibition 2020

Shaping Delight’s Future

Aliyah: “How did the emergency response programmes shape Delight’s current programmes?”

Kathryn: “Our 2020-21 Bubbles of Delight programmes are a combination of everything we’ve learnt through lockdown and everything we learnt previously from our intensive programmes.

“These programme involves children enjoying a ‘wow’ experience in school, either a filmed play, dance performance or gallery tour, followed by creative sessions with dancers, actors, or visual artists, which can be delivered either in school or remotely as the situation requires. At the end of each programme the children can share their experience by filming or photographing their final artwork or performance.

“None of what we achieved would have been possible without the rapid support of many dedicated and passionate volunteers, sponsors, partners, and funders, who worked together to deliver solutions to what seemed an insurmountable situation. And for that we are extremely grateful.”

There is no doubt that this has been a tough year for charities and art education providers across the country, but what Delight, with their arts partners and schools, have achieved throughout the crisis proves that working together they can continue to make a positive impact on the lives of children within the framework of the ‘new normal’.


Read the evaluation reports for Box of Delight and Bags of Delight.

Contact Delight to find out more about Bubbles of Delight.

Thanks to Aliyah Zaidi, who is currently volunteering with Delight’s Communications team.