Current & Recent Projects
Sharon is involved in a number of projects across Portsmouth and further afield:
Sharon has been working in a freelance capacity with Portsmouth Anglican Cathedral as their Creative Engagement Practitioner and Annual Theme Curator, helping to plan, organise and deliver community engagement activities linked to the Cathedral’s annual theme. For 2015-16 the theme was Viewpoint: exploring faith & spirituality through the arts, a project which Sharon devised and managed. The theme for 2016-17 is All Things Bright and Beautiful: exploring ecology and the environment through science, faith and the arts. Sharon continues to work with the Cathedral in planning and organising activities and events linked to this theme which will take place during the year. In addition, Sharon helps to design and install a range of other art installations and creative events as part of the Cathedral’s calendar of events.
Find out more here: All Things Bright and Beautiful
Portsmouth Deanery Youth Chaplaincy Project
The FE Chaplaincy project and Deanery Youthwork project merged in August 2015, forming the Portsmouth Deanery Youth Chaplaincy project. Sharon worked on the projects as Creative Engagement Practitioner from February 2013 to September 2017.
She worked with staff and students from Portsmouth and Highbury colleges offering creative open access sessions themed around spirituality, wellbeing and mindfulness. She also offered mindfulness sessions for staff at Portsmouth College. In addition, she also worked in some of the local secondary schools where the Deanery Youthwork project was already invested, bringing her specialist skills to small groups, around themes of emotional intelligence, spirituality and mindfulness.
Find out more here: Youth Chaplaincy
UK Community Partner Network (UKCPN)
Sharon served on the working party drawn from community groups and practitioners across the UK, seeking to promote and strengthen university and community partnerships. Some universities already do this kind of partnership work well, others haven’t yet engaged with it and others still are seeking to engage, but the work is patchy and not yet consistent across the whole institution. The UKCPN was initially funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, but is now supported by the National Centre for Coordinating Public Engagement (NCCPE) and the University of Brighton’s CUPP scheme (Community and University Partnership Project). A summit was held in June 2012, which Sharon took part in. You can see it here: http://youtu.be/1riGcPK6gTA
During her involvement with this project, Sharon attended a number of international conferences where she took part in presentations about the work of the UKCPN as well as offering storytelling sessions as a practitioner in her own right.
University of Portsmouth – community engagement
Linked to her work with the UKCPN, and as a development of the Somerstown Stories project, Sharon worked with the University of Portsmouth, specifically the Creative and Cultural Industries faculty (CCi), who moved into a newly extended building on the edge of Somerstown. The University has a desire and a vision for strengthening its links with Somerstown, and Sharon was commissioned to explore any new possibilities arising out of the Somerstown Stories work and the networks that have been developed there.
In addition, Sharon worked with University staff on an Armed Forces Community Covenant (AFCC) funded project known as Far From Home. The project partnered local veterans and their families with students from the faculty of CCi, who used their creative practice to re-tell some of the veterans stories.
Find out more here: Far From Home (video)
Somerstown Central – community arts & heritage funding bid
Sharon was involved in initial discussions with Portsmouth City Council’s Housing team to research and prepare a funding bid for the new Somerstown Central community facility, which is currently under construction in the heart of the city. Part of the original plan for this new space was to have community arts projects, in order to help the local residents feel more connected and engaged with the building and its facilities.
North End Playscheme – management team and storytelling
Sharon returned to the planning and stage teams for North End Playscheme after a few years break, whilst her children were very small. As part of a team of volunteers, Sharon continues to help plan and resource this week-long summer activity scheme for 5-10 year olds, which in 2013 had been running for twenty years! Sharon and her husband Adam re-formed their stage team and helped maintain the children and leaders’ energy and enthusiasm through games, challenges and all-round silliness!
The theme for Playscheme in 2013 was ‘Narnia’ and Sharon devised an original story based in the Narnia world, but set in-between ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’ and ‘Prince Caspian’ books. The stories were told in an interactive-performance style and thoroughly enjoyed by children and adults alike!
Find out more here: North End Playscheme
Storytelling Club, Stamshaw Infants School
A 5 week after-school club which offered a variety of activities aimed at developing storytelling and writing skills. These included storyboarding, drama, music, Story Cubes (c) and Story Pegs.
The children who took part wrote and illustrated their own original story, which was compiled into an anthology: ‘The Story Chest’. Each child received a full-colour copy of the book to keep.
Sharon was one of a team of former CP Creative Agents who carried out the Dysarticulate project across Portsmouth. Dysarticulate was a Cultural Olympiad project which involved creating a temporary installation of flags made from the pages of recycled books. The purpose was to engage children with the issues around Dyslexia and how we communicate with each other through text and speech. Sharon worked with five school in total, and photos of the work produced can be found here:
Somerstown Stories www.somerstown-stories.org.uk
This was a local heritage project that began life as a scheme of work in Somers Park Primary School, in Somerstown but later expanded to include the wider community.
The projects launched in the school in September 2011, with a six-week scheme of work looking at the Somerstown locality from 1800s-1970s, which included World War II and the significant effect that had on the area. Following extensive bomb damage the local authority, like many across the UK, decided on a slum clearance and regeneration scheme, which resulted in the area we know today.
Somerstown is now in a process of phased re-development, and it was timely for a number of groups and organisations to look back at their history and the shaping of the area, in order to prepare to look forward.
The children looked at topics such as toys & games, work & industry, music, cinema, clothes and family life during that period, and as much as possible these topics were linked directly to historical artefacts and resources from Somerstown itself.
Following on from that, a wide variety of events and activities took place in venues and centres across the area between January and July 2012, including:
- a mobile exhibition of maps & photographs,
- archive film screenings,
- Events at The Brook Club, Sure Start, Omega Centre, Wilmcote House, St Peter’s Church and Southsea Community Centre
- the Somerstown Roadshow with special guest Michelle Magorian
- Collaborations with the University of Portsmouth: Creative & Performing Arts students devised and performed a piece based on oral histories of the area; the School of Architecture ran a charette (workshop) for Charter Academy students using architectural approaches to addressing the spacial challenges in Somerstown
- The Museum of Somerstown, a temporary exhibition in an empty shop in Somerstown
- A book: Somerstown Stories, which was released in January 2013
We were successful in our bid to secure funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, which enabled the wider community work to go ahead. Sharon was the only paid person on the project, but with successful partnership working, a huge amount of work was accomplished across the area.
Update: a co-authored academic journal article about the project and its work with the University of Portsmouth’s School of Architecture is due to be submitted to Research for All, a journal focussed specifically on community engagement work.
Bounce & Rhyme Time, North End Library
Sharon volunteered for North End library for almost 3 years as a Bounce & Rhyme Time session leader. Working with the library staff, Sharon led the sessions on a roughly fortnightly basis, preparing detailed session notes (which the library staff could then re-use) and handouts for parents.
Fratton – Big Local Trust
Fratton was one of the first 50 areas across the country to be accepted on to the Big Lottery’s Big Local Funding programme. Fratton ward will receive £1m over a ten year period, which will be administrated by an independent Trust being set-up specifically to manage this funding. Whilst this money would not be sufficient to create a new building, it could be potentially ideal to support long-term funding of smaller projects, which often struggle without consistent income streams.
Sharon’s role was to coordinate the initial consultation phase that shaped the priority areas for the Trust. Part of the strategy for this included recruiting and training local volunteers to equip them with the skills and understanding of what makes a successful and sustainable community.
For two years Sharon worked as part of a team of Creative Agents for Creative Partnerships at the University of Portsmouth. Funded by the Arts Council this programme involved bringing creative practitioners (artists, scientists, architects, dancers…whoever had the right skills!) into school to work alongside teachers and students to make the curriculum more exciting and engaging.
As a Creative Agent, Sharon worked alongside students, teachers and practitioners to help them develop the project, broker the best practitioners for the school context, help plan and manage the budget and also carry out all the assessment and evaluation work. During this time Sharon worked with four schools across Portsmouth, of both primary and secondary age range.
As a result of Government spending cuts, the Creative Partnerships programme in the UK was closed at the end of July 2011. although it is thriving elsewhere in Europe. However in the UK, with some legacy funding, Sharon and her colleagues were able to continue working with local schools through the Dysarticulate project, which was part of the Cultural Olympiad.
During its nine year life span, the Creative Partnerships programme nationally worked with 1.3 million children, over18,000 schools and 120,000 teachers, delivering more than 8,000 programmes in England since 2002. A report from the National Foundation for Educational Research (2006), stated that young people who attended Creative Partnerships activities made, on average the equivalent of 2.5 grades better progress in GCSE examinations. An independent study by Price Waterhouse Cooper LLP (2010) also revealed that Creative Partnerships is expected to generate nearly £4 billion net positive benefit for the UK economy. This is the equivalent of £15.30 of economic benefits for every £1 of investment.