Derby Opportunity Area Project to be showcased at International Arts Conference in Lisbon

5 June 2019

A delegation showcasing the success of the This is Derby project has been invited to attend the International Arts in Society Conference, taking place in Lisbon, Portugal from 19-21 June.

This is Derby is a collaborative project designed to help young people in deprived areas of the city develop essential life skills, resulting in increased social mobility and access to the arts. It is funded by the Department for Education, which has identified Derby as an Opportunity Area, to bridge the gap that young people from lower socio-economic groups face.

In its first six months, the project engaged with over 900 young people aged 5-18, offering them opportunities in sport, arts and cultural activities. In phase two, specific qualifications and workshops will be delivered to schools and communities across the city, developing skills such as teamwork, leadership, problem solving, resilience and curiosity.

The conference delegation includes representatives from the University of Derby, Derby County Community Trust (DCCT) and Derby Theatre. In partnership with Dr Rhiannon Jones, from the University’s School of Arts, Digital and Material Artistic Research Centre (DMARC), the delegation will present a paper on the Special Focus – Art as Communication: The Impact of Art as a Catalyst for Social Change.

The team will share their successes and challenges so far, and highlight the project’s impact on the city. This is Derby used a ‘grass roots’ approach to provide young people with free art activities, and the paper will discuss the key barriers identified by schools and parents, including the lack of cultural integration outside of school time and the impact of lack of financial or family support.

Dr Jones said: “It’s fantastic for This is Derby to be internationally recognised for its contributions to the research community through delivery of a project with real impact. We are delighted to have been invited to talk about the research, putting both Derby, and the project, onto a global platform. The University of Derby is proud to be enhancing the existing partnership with DCCT and the creative agenda and focus of the School of Arts and its leading DMARC research centre.”

Will Turner, Partnerships and Impact Manager at DCCT, added: “We’re extremely proud of the project and the real difference it is making here in Derby, and are honoured that we and our partners have been chosen to showcase the work in Derby on the international stage. We hope to prove how vibrant and great Derby is for young people and that we as a partnership are committed to helping our young people to raise their aspirations and achieve their dreams.”

This is Derby is led by DCCT who are the community arm of Derby County Football Club. They work in partnership with many other organisations in the city including Artcore, Baby People, East Midlands Caribbean Carnival, Derby Theatre, Derby Museums, Déda, Sinfonia Viva, Derbyshire Music Partnership and QUAD.

Through Derby Sport Forum, the project has engaged with member clubs including Derby Trailblazers Basketball, Derby Athletic Club, GAD Khalsa, Derby County Ladies, Sporting Communities, Cycle Derby, City of Derby Swimming Club, 24 Fit Derby, Willows Sports Centre, Derbyshire Badminton, Derby Karate Club and Oz Box.

This year, the project will culminate in a huge celebration event held on 13 July at the Market Place. ‘There's nothing to do in Derby...’ will showcase the experiences, skills and talents of the young people from across the city who have engaged in the programme, and prove that Derby can be enjoyed and be inspirational for its own youngsters and those who may just be passing by.

It will also preview S.H.E.D, the Social Higher Education Depot, which will be an integral part of the celebration events. S.H.E.D. is an artistic research project from the University’s College of Arts, DMARC, with Dr Jones is its creative director. At the event, S.H.E.D will platform artists and evaluation of This is Derby by the University’s Professor Alex Nunn.

For more information about the project and the associated research, contact and

A boy taking part in creative activities as part of This is Derby
A girl taking part in circus skills as part of This is Derby

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