Since April 2012 Artlink Central (a community based arts charity) and Stirling Council Adult Learning Team have developed the Partnership Communities Literacy Project [PCLP]. The project explores relationships between the arts and the development of literacy skills through, in this case, creative script writing. The project is led by a drama tutor and adult literacy tutor.
All programme participants have a learning disability, learning difficulty, mental health issue or a visual impairment. PCLP has offered participants the opportunity to extend their skills and progress with their learning.
Participants are members of Artlink Central’s Artreach programme where they develop art, music, drama and performance experiences. PCLP affords participants a new experience, opportunities to learn about the other side of the theatre making process, scriptwriting, script development and directing and crucially, an opportunity to develop their literacy skills.
Early work from the group featured as part of “Off The Page”, Stirling’s book festival. The group prepared monologues for an event, some were recorded and played to the audience, some were performed live. The group decided early on in the process to not read their own work, but rather, step back and have another group member read their work for them. After the event, group members discussed their feelings around handing their writing over to someone else to perform. This reflective discussion allowed participants to feel empowered, understanding their new role and valuing the benefits of this to them and their developing literacy skills. The group now fully identified themselves as writers, becoming much more engaged with the written and spoken word.
The group began writing a new play, shared in April 2013. Drama students from Glasgow gave a read performance of the work and then offered critical feedback to the group, making the process a positive learning experience.
The project continues through further partnership work from September 2013. A new group play is being written alongside individual portfolios of creative writing. Professional writing processes have been explored, explaining how writers develop their script from initial idea, to first draft, then onto production. Literacy skills continue to be developed.
Participants in the PCLP regularly express how much they enjoy sharing their works with family and support staff, that they feel more confident around their writing and how they are “listened to” more. Communication, group work and literacy skills have improved and this is evident in the huge range of ideas they have discussed and made decisions on, in order to create a shared piece of writing.
The work of the project will culminate in March 2014 with the participants directing performers through a second live reading, this time of their new work.
Group members are truly inspirational to others. They have successfully overcome disability and barriers to learning to publically share their creative skills development and talent with others. They take deserved pride in their literacy skills and achievements.