August 2015

28 August 2015


So, we’ve come to the end of the 2015 GCF Summer School and have met some amazing young artists on the project. Thanks are due to the lead artists, Khadijah Ibrahiim, David Hamilton and Christella Litras and to all the participants for their energy and commitment. We’re delighted to announce that we’ll be programming weekly workshops in the autumn to support emerging artists in the region. Keep an eye on the website and our social media for further details or register your interest online.

I’m writing my final post as Director of the Geraldine Connor Foundation. I’m moving on to a new job in Devon as General Manager of the Arts at the Dartington Hall Trust.

I’ve had a fantastic year at GCF. It’s been great to meet so many artists who worked with Geraldine and were inspired by her. Highlights for me were the 2014 Summer Gala at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, which brought together artists from different disciplines alongside exciting young talent. I got to dance (badly!) on stage at the end of Tell Me What Yo’ Singin’ For to the calypso rhythms of Sheldon Blackman and the Breakfast Band, which is something I won’t forget, nor the incredible rendition of Redeemer from Carnival Messiah performed at the Royal Hall, Harrogate by the magnificent Ronald Samm as part of Sweet Chariot – Thomas Rutling and the Road to Freedom.

I have been impressed and inspired by the young talented individuals I’ve met through the projects we’ve delivered in Bradford and Leeds, and I hope you will continue to explore your creativity and skills with the Geraldine Connor Foundation.

I’ll continue to follow the work of GCF with great interest. Thank you to the trustees, staff and artists for all your hard work, help and support. Stay in touch!



Amy Bere

26 August 2015

GCF Summer School – Week 2!

It’s been a busy second week for the GCF Summer School Participants! They’ve been putting together the content for the sharing event on Friday 28 August. Associate artist, Simon Howarth is a musician and producer. He’s written a bit about his experience over the last two weeks…

“Wow, I can’t believe you have only been working with these students for a week!” These were the words of Claudio Kron, a guest teacher who is a seasoned artist who specialises in the Brazilian arts. His words I feel sum up the hard work and talent that this group has brought to the project. Our first session feels like an eternity ago due to the massive progress each individual has made during their time with us.

As you can imagine the first day was an icebreaker; an opportunity for the tutors and students to get to know about each other’s talents and experiences. The diversity of the experience was impressive to see ranging from Harrogate Youth theatre to Leeds Steel Pan Orchestra. By the second day you could already see the creative juices flowing. Rowan, one of our young pianists had started taking song requests from one of our young singers, Donatella and during the lunch break you could hear the two of them belting out hits from the drama studio!

Our mission statement is ‘We are an arts organisation with a varied project programme, we collaborate with artists and partners to produce engaging work for a wide range of audiences.’ and this is perfectly captured by this group’s diversity. Our students have experiences in African, Caribbean and European artistic traditions and this has help to carve our performance we are creating into a unique cultural creation.

Geraldine Connor, who this organisation was created in memory of, would be proud. She created the musical masterpiece Carnival Messiah, a fusion of Handel’s classic Messiah and traditional African and Caribbean musical styles. She was a big believer in fostering the artistic talents of her students and I feel our mentors Christella, Khadijah and David perfectly continue this tradition. Not only this, but they have helped our students realise talents they didn’t know they had. Jordan, one of our musicians was shocked to find that he had an amazing singing voice, but as the days went by you could see his confidence in his own abilities increase to the point where he requested to do a duet for the performance! This is what the GCF is all about.

Another element of the GCF is the family environment we like to promote. We take ourselves seriously but try to incorporate as much fun as possible, so don’t be surprised to see our Director Amy cutting shapes in a dance warmup, or our Producer Lladel ‘trying’ to sing hits in our music workshop!

What Simon doesn’t mention is that he was in Carnival Messiah – we’ve seen the video evidence!

17 August 2015

GCF Summer School – First week!

We asked young writer Nicola Knights to contribute to the blog about her first week as an associate artist on the GCF Summer School 2015. Nicola is working with poet and theatre maker, Khadijah Ibrahiim.

From sleep filled eyes and an unknowing nervousness on the first day, to a week that has built up friendships, creativity and the beginnings of a performance has begun to blossom. The first week of the Geraldine Connor Foundation Summer School has sprung into action. From the offset the participants have been creating and developing work, which they have all embraced settling into the quick paced delivery of the project. They have thrown themselves into the challenge of creating a work in progress performance to be shown to an audience at the end of the three week summer school. Working alongside established theatre, music and dance practitioners helping to guide and impart they’re knowledge an experiences in the business. I feel that there is already a level of respect from practitioner to participant that has allowed an incredible sharing and learning of skills. The participants who were already talented in their own rights seem to (in this short amount of time) be stronger performers enabling them to begin refining their skills. This is wonderful to see as the work that is being created both collaboratively and separately in each performance specialities is being developed at a much quicker pace than I was expecting. I am feeling extremely positive about the end result if the level of creating-developing keeps going the way it is.

During the week the summer school was honoured to have a workshop presented to them from Chicken Shop Shakespeare. This helped to show the participants a different approach to performance and to get them thinking about different ways they can create work even if it’s in a format that is well established. It was so lovely to see how each of the participants got involved with the workshop and were spoken to like professionals rather than a teacher/student way of teaching a workshop. I feel that because the participants felt like they were being treated as equals that they produced a level of work that they maybe hadn’t experienced before.

All the participants have been so wonderful to work with over this first week and it has been amazing to see how quickly they have built up relationships with each other. This has made the atmosphere of the summer school so welcoming and encouraging. This is shown at its best when we come together at the end of the day to do a sharing of our work. As the participants are all willing each other on and encouraging each other as well as being able to give constructive criticism to progress the performance even further. In all I feel that there is a very positive atmosphere that is making this project such a joy to work on and I can’t wait to see what the next two weeks have to offer.