Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival’s flagship outreach project Miss Represented – which works with vulnerable young women aged 13-21 who face challenging and chaotic life situations – has been awarded a Big Lottery Fund grant of £158,508. The funds will allow the programme to grow and expand over the next two years to benefit more young women with complex needs.
A lifeline to its members – many of whom experience homelessness, exclusion from school, anxiety and mental health problems – Miss Represented creates a safe space for participants to better understand themselves and the world around them. During weekly tailored sessions, the participants learn new creative skills such as photography, drama, dance, fashion and music and reach out to the community via regular public performances, exhibitions or events that investigate important issues such as sex and consent, domestic abuse, media representations of women and female empowerment.
Since its establishment in 2011, the project’s immense achievements have included a collaboration with multi-award-winning rapper Plan B, an appearance on BBC Radio 1xtra, a retrospective of work at Brighton Dome to celebrate International Women’s Day and sell-out performances of recent show Home: Life which explored experiences of being young and homeless with little or no support system.
"It’s like a safe space" says one of the participants of the weekly Miss Represented sessions. “It’s just the most bit of normality, still to do this day... you can come here and actually be yourself.”
The new funds will enable the project to continue its important core work and to develop a cross-art, multi-disciplinary performance and workshop that will tour to Pupil Referral Units, schools and universities in the local area as well as to arts venues nationwide. Miss Represented will also be documenting the process through video diaries and creative reflections which will be available online in order to reach and support more isolated young people. In the second year of funding the project will begin new satellite sessions at Pupil Referral Units and introduce training and facilitation opportunities for the older members of Miss Represented to pass on their knowledge and experience, whilst younger members will further develop their creative and life skills.
Rebecca Fidler, Creative Learning Manager, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says: “We are so excited to be able to continue this important and transformative work as we expand and spread our wings. Creating a show is such a powerful process for personal development and group bonding. To now have the opportunity to take this work out into our wider communities and amplify the incredible insight these young women have to offer is just fantastic. It is essential that we, as a society, listen to the voices of these young people and gain a deeper understanding of the challenges they face and ask ourselves questions about what kind of society we want to live in. By taking the show and workshop out on tour we can develop a dialogue and build bridges across the community, building empathy and understanding between groups that may struggle to understand each other."
Andrew Comben, Chief Executive Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival says: “We are delighted to have been awarded this funding from Big Lottery. All of our city's young people deserve the opportunity to thrive and we know that the arts can contribute so much: to their wellbeing, to their view of the world and to their life chances. Miss Represented is a vital project in our community and an enormously rewarding one to be involved with. This funding will ensure that the project will be able to continue to make an impact locally and beyond as it expands and tours for this new phase.”