Trinity Laban boasts a decade of community participation

10 years of Learning and Participation (banner)

The Centre for Advanced Training (CAT) is one part of the Learning and Participation (Dance) programme at Trinity Laban which overall offers a wide range of youth, schools and community projects and activities, professional training, and short courses for people of all ages and different experiences, engaging with up to 1,000 people each week.

Veronica Jobbins, Head of Learning and Participation (Dance), talked about this amazing ten years:

"I joined the then Laban Centre for Movement and Dance in 1996 as Head of Professional Studies. There was only a passing reference in my interview to the need for someone to help shape the public benefit side of the funding application to the National Lottery for a new building. The intention for the building was to bring together the diverse aspects of our institution - dance artist training, community participation, education, health and performance - into a cohesive whole where each element would feed and support the others. This is reflected in Herzog and de Meuron's architecture, which creates an inclusive environment that enables creativity and community engagement to flourish.

"In 2003, when our new building was officially launched, the political climate for the arts and education was very different and we took advantage of a number of government policies and initiatives to establish the Education and Community Programme (as it was then called) locally, regionally and nationally. An early project, Creating Success, used dance to raise achievement in local primary schools, and we developed gifted and talented programmes for Lewisham pupils and projects with Creative Partnerships. Working with Lewisham Council's Arts Service, we were instrumental in setting up the Lewisham Schools Showcase and the Lewisham Education Arts Network.

"In the last ten years there have been many highlights. Our community launch and Open House event saw 6,000 people visiting the new Laban Building on a single day. The programme for the day included performances and participatory workshops all over the building, sowing the seeds from which we have developed our activities. Since then, the annual Christmas Youth Dance projects with Greenwich Dance, the many wonderful children and youth performances in the Laban Theatre, the Pick up the Pace three year programme for boys, last year's Big Dance picnics and, more recently, our music and dance programme for older people, Retired not Tired, have all have all been memorable.

"The development of the CAT at Trinity Laban has been a major project; it now has about 120 students aged 13-18 from across the South East. The CAT has become a vital part of the Learning and Participation jigsaw of activities, providing access and progression for young people inspired to dance and motivated to commit to intensive training.

"A vital ingredient in the success of the Learning and Participation (Dance) programme is the expert and committed team of 12 staff that devises, delivers and produces all the various activities and projects we run. The team work with over 80 freelance dance teachers and artists to provide all our participants with the highest quality dance experiences.

"But what of the next ten years? While these are difficult times economically, I am optimistic about the future of the programme. We have established partnerships with key dance agencies, such as Greenwich Dance, a range of dance companies and our local authority, and we are making strong international links. Within Trinity Laban, we work collaboratively with the Faculty of Music, bringing together music and dance for creative projects.

"Our programme is built on the people of all ages and backgrounds who we engage with. It is their love of dance, and their enjoyment and appreciation for what we do, that lay the foundation for the future."

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