Revolution Performing Arts, which provides classes to children and young people across Swindon, has been given an award of almost £35,000 from the Arts Council England's Covid 19 Emergency Fund.
Founder Fiona Da Silva-Adams said the money has been a life-saver for the organisation which is currently offering its classes, one to one support and feedback online via Zoom and WhatsApp. It’s supporting around 350 young people aged 4 -18 years.
Additionally, the team work with looked after children (in care) and provides places free of charge to any young person affected by domestic abuse, referred by Swindon Women's Aid. The aim is to provide an escape from the trauma of abuse. They also offer a family support morning to encourage autistic young people and their parents to experience the arts and network with each other.
“When we knew lockdown was coming and that schools would close, my body wnet into a state of shock. How would we survive this? Then we made a plan to go online and that’s what we’ve done. Initially we were able to get a premises grant which helped for a few weeks.
“This grant ensures that Revolution Performing Arts (RPA) can cover losses and remain a strong and viable company for the future delivery of performing arts twilight sessions for vulnerable young people. When I knew we’d got the funding, I cried and cried. It means so much.
“This now allows us to fund delivery of online sessions (a combination of live, pre-recorded and feedback) and provide a lifeline to young people during the pandemic.”
Fiona set up RPA in 2007 after a successful performing arts career which saw her study at the University of Middlesex and then return to Swindon to manage the Sixth Sense Theatre group (now known as Prime Theatre). She struck out on her own under the original name of Drama Babes after having her children and the business has grown ever since and was later re-branded as RPA.
“We run after school clubs in many Swindon schools and often in non-school settings offering a range of activities from dance and drama to circus skills,” Fiona said.
“Young people often come to us to feel included, respected and celebrated. They strive to create excellent works of high artistic quality. They can do this because they feel safe to express themselves. These sessions will ensure they remain connected and included and safe.”
Fiona manages a team of 15 workshop leaders, some employed, some freelance and some volunteers. The grant, which comes from Arts Council England via The National Lottery, allows her to keep working with them all as they deliver online workshops even though subs have dwindled due to families being unable to afford the fees.