I am a parent – so constantly looking for exciting ways to make a summer of fun. We have a very busy 4 year old boy and a 16 year old daughter with autism. When my wife and I search for activities to fill up the school holidays we are quite lucky. Emotionally, both our children are on the same level so they are entertained by similar things.
I hear a lot of parents complain that they can never find appropriate activities for their kids in the school holidays. They either cost too much (particularly if there are siblings), or they are scheduled mid-week and clash with work. I know from personal experience that there are numerous ‘Summer of Fun’ activities happening this summer which are fully funded by Welsh Government. Yet for some reason, these events do not seem to be well attended.
Are parents concerned that ‘free’ means bad?
There are loads of amazing ‘Summer of Fun’ workshops happening this year – I have seen many of them posted on Twitter and Facebook, but I suppose I know where to look. There are bushcraft days, photography sessions, family friendly shows, karaoke mornings/afternoons and other creative arts workshops. Why are so many of them empty?
As well as being a parent, my wife and I run an inclusive arts organisation (Forget-Me-Not-Productions). We have been in receipt of numerous of these ‘Summer of Fun’ and ‘Winter of Wellbeing’ grants. Recently, we held a free songwriting day at Cambrian Village Trust in Tonypandy. It was promoted on social media and at the venue, but still only had five participants show up (two of which were our own children). Mel Saddler and I take our kids to anything like this (whether they want to go or not!!). So I am genuinely curious as to why these events (not just our sessions) never seem to be well attended?
Admittedly, some of them are not well advertised, but that is largely due to tight timescales. Many organisations only find out they are successful with their funding bids with two or three weeks notice.
Is the Term Inclusive arts off Putting?
It is such a shame as we still get paid for our time, even if no one turns up. This seems like such a waste as there are so many families out there that simply cannot afford to take their children to a show in a venue like Wales Millennium Centre because it is too expensive…yet they aren’t signing up for these fantastic opportunities. I know work might be a factor, but many of these run at the weekend also. It has gotten thinking with our events in particiular; is the term inclusive arts off putting? Does it give the impression that is exclusively for people with disabilities and Additional Learning Needs? Your guess is as good as mine.
Our next sessions are taking place at Cambrian Village Trust 31st August (drama and circus skills) and 2nd September (stop-motion, claymation and filmmaking). Let’s see if things pick up with this one. To book a free place please visit eventbrite to book.