• Participants sing festive songs at Colston Hall, as part of Bristol Music Trust's sheltered housing project, led by Omar Shahryah. Photo credit: Duncan Smith

Between 2016 and 2019, the Serious Trust was generously supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation to work with partners across the country, forming a network (Serious About Partnership) of organisations who seek to place quality Learning & Participation practice at the core of their work. As a result of this, we collaborated with several of these organisations in 2018 and 2019 to produce a new portfolio of projects involving previously underrepresented local audiences.

Our 2019 projects, led by several of our LEAP Talent Development programme alumni, have not only developed and expanded the facilitating artists’ experience, but have provided a catalyst for exploring new ways to evolve a wider range of national audiences going forward.

Bristol Music Trust  with Omar  Shahryah 

Bristol Music Trust worked with Bristol City Council to facilitate vocal sessions in sheltered housing across the city. Artistically led by Omar Shahryah, with support from local singing coach Ally Cameron-Daw, the project team visited three sheltered settings, housing elderly people over eight sessions, asking for them to request their favourite songs to sing together, alongside further consultancy to discover and meet the cultural needs of participants. The project also included a series of staff training sessions for the delivery team, addressing the best ways to engage a new participant group.

The sessions concluded with a festive celebration event taking place at Colston Hall, during which participants joined together to perform various Christmas classics, accompanied by the first mince pies of the season!

More information on the project can be found here

Norfolk & Norwich Festival  with  Ineza  Kerschkamp

As part of the 2019 Norfolk & Norwich Festival, jazz vocalist Ineza Kerschkamp visited four local schools in Norfolk to deliver two full day lyric writing and performing workshops. Children worked in small groups to create their own pieces based on the tune of ‘I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free’, by Nina Simone, in preparation for a final performance to their peers, teachers and parents. Alongside the musical practical element of the programme, participants learnt about the history and origins of jazz music and gained an Arts Award Discover qualification. 

Extra-curricular activities within schools can often be costly, and so Norfolk & Norwich Festival were delighted to bring this project to the schools free of charge. 

Opera North  with Joanna Eden

Engaging participants diagnosed with dementia and their carers, vocalist Joanna Eden worked with three groups in Leeds over three weeks, delivering weekly sessions inspired by Opera North’s production of Puccini’s ‘La Boheme’.

Based on three themes; ‘getting ready’, ‘the night out’ and ‘looking back’, each session included a range of creative activities, including laying out props from the 1960s, to stimulate memories as a catalyst for conversation. Each week, Joanna performed a range of classic hits, encouraging participants to contribute with hand-held percussion and writing and performing their own songs, which were recorded onto CDs as memories of the project. The groups also welcomed guest artists Megan on violin and Shannon on trumpet.

To complete the project, participants created ‘me’ boards – collages of the images which reminded them of their past (for example, musicians, bands, recognisable logos, products) which were displayed at a matinee performance of ‘La Boheme’, attended by the groups as a conclusion to the workshops, welcoming them into a venue they may not have visited for several years.

Poole Lighthouse  with Tanya Lacey


In Dorset, singer-songwriter Tanya Lacey delivered two full day vocal workshops in a local school, as preparation for a live performance as part of the Roundabout festival, which was co-produced by Poole Lighthouse. Using the festival’s theme of mental health, Tanya challenged the students to devise a song which was inspired by their own experiences.

Many of the participants had never performed live before, let alone to profile their own material. After a brief soundcheck, Tanya gave words of encouragement to the group, before they successfully performed to an audience of family, friends and the general public.

Showcasing their work to a local audience was a fantastic and memorable experience for the group. The project, which was fully funded, eliminating financial barriers to participating in the arts and has inspired plans for future collaborations between Poole Lighthouse and the artist and school.

For more information on LEAP, please see here.