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My Story Herts – Storytelling through art to inspire, encourage and empower.

In early March 2020 inspired by the successful ACE-supported trial run in 2019, we were working on a second bid to support expansion of My Story Project. New ideas we received from participants, artists, the team at Hertfordshire Libraries and the wider community were incorporated into the application and, as Lockdown landed we worked remotely on our application and finally submitted in November 2021. The application was slightly different from our first draft and informed by the experience of developing, what would be a live project, during a period of lockdown measures. 

My Story is a piece of intergenerational, co-creation supporting creativity, culture exchange and collaboration between Hertfordshire Libraries, Herts Archives and Local Studies, Nysa Projects, YCH Services for Young People, Stevenage World Forum, Hertfordshire MIND, cultural providers, artists and the people of Hertfordshire. 

We were delighted to receive good news in January that our bid to support expansion of a bigger better version of My Story was successful.

We had written an absolute monster of a project, all singing all dancing with multiple partners and new artists to support a growing body of work.  We have spent the last few months transforming the creative concept into reality and here’s My Story so far…

Continuing Professional Development – CPD

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Themes of family and lockdown life by Shirley Everall

This last year has been seriously admin loaded and low on creativity as the impact of canceled programmes/live events, going digital, working from home, supporting children and processing the horror of the situation for so many took effect. 

Time has been at a premium. The time or impetus for new creations has been hard to find but, in preparation for the CPD Sessions with Herts Libraries we reconnected with our creative mojos as we Escaped into Colour to Capture the Times. 

Feedback from participants – Any nerves were quickly calmed by the workshop facilitators, Alex and Kerry, who reassured us that there is no wrong way to approach the sessions, and there are no rules or restrictions to our creativity.

Communication is key to successful project delivery and CPD was developed to enable this process. During CPD sessions we explore the role of the arts facilitator and discuss creative learning sessions. Creative sessions are used to communicate creative project content leaving the team at Herts Libraries the information and skills necessary to support the project in the community and lead sessions in the future.

Lockdown Submission

My Story was extended during Lockdown to include children, My Story Families, and we have had some wonderful entries. 

Lockdown Poem – Submitted by Rushil Aged 11 

The key worker heroes wake up early not knowing what the day is going to have.

 They work with great pride and courage for the country to get out of this international pandemic    

Risking their lives putting them at risk all of this to save lives. Day and day I worry my mum, my dad at work,

I come to school surrounded by other children who were in the same situation.

Read the full poem and other stories at https://www.hertsmemories.org.uk/content/category/herts-history/people/mystory

You too can submit a story, we are calling for stories inspired by transition, change and adolescence. The stories are used to inspire art during My Story Creator Day sessions coming soon to Hertfordshire Libraries.

The project explores and presents experiences of transition from adolescence to adulthood based on stories submitted by Hertfordshire residents. 

This piece of co-creation allows artists, libraries and the community opportunity to work together to produce a body of work which can be enjoyed as participant, partner or visiting audiences across Hertfordshire. 

My Story will deliver: 

  • A launch event with participants, artists, storytellers and partners, using 2019 creative outputs and new commissions to attract and inspire new audiences
  • Creator Day sessions to create content for events – art forms include film, music, painting, graphics illustration, visual arts, poetry, creative writing, scriptwriting, stories through archives, character creation/puppetry and installation.                                                                                                                
  • 2 countywide community arts festivals in and around library buildings to celebrate the art, spaces and stories of Hertfordshire with a mix of local artists drawn via call for artists and work produced at Creator Days
  • Family learning sessions inspired by project content
  • Artist-in-Residence programme via an open call, in partnership with MIND to explore the cathartic nature of storytelling & ‘Art for Wellbeing’ 
  • My Story touring exhibition and pop-up gallery spaces