At the heart of our work at the Orpheus Centre are intensive weeks where we start with a blank sheet of paper and end up with a public show. The focus of these weeks could be song-writing, art, drama or film. We have taken this model out of Orpheus and found it to be tremendously successful. We have seen it work very effectively in a variety of settings such as other specialist colleges, mainstream schools, care homes, prisons and young offenders’ institutions.
In our experience, showcase performances are very effective in breaking down barriers between disabled and non-disabled people. Time and again, people’s misconceptions about disabled and disadvantaged people are challenged and changed for good.
Over the past three years we have undertaken outreaches at Bronzefield Prison, Medway Secure Training Centre, The Limes College, Young Epilepsy, Something Special (Derry), MusicALL (Glasgow) and Kings College Guildford to name but a few.
"This has been an amazing experience - we've made some fantastic friends who have helped us realise our true potential. Some of the songs are about breaking free from your own personal boundaries. We wrote songs about not letting what other people think about you define who you are and what you want to be" - Kings College student
"The impact this project had on our students completely blew me away and totally amazed me. I would not have believed it would be possible to get that level of work, performance and experience in such a short space of time. It was wonderful to see children, young people and adults all co-creating together and the quality of the songs and performance were a testament to the knowledge and skills of those leading and tutoring the project. The interaction between all those involved and the celebration of difference also enhanced the experience for all" - Emma Bradshaw, Head teacher, Limes College
We are grateful to the Monument Trust, The Queen’s Trust, the Peter Harrison Foundation, the Wates Family Foundation, Baily Thomas Charitable Foundation and the Mark Leonard Trust for supporting us in this work.
In 2011 the outreach programme was introduced into prisons and was named 'The Birdsong Project.' This title was adopted following Sir Richard Stilgoes' anecdote about the prisoners "doing bird and writing songs".
Orpheus students are frequently asked to showcase their talents.
Our alumni took to the sea to create music and break down barriers in an outreach with the Jubilee Sailing Trust