“Work is a lot easier if you’re having fun”


Rachel McMurray has recently completed three weeks as lead artist on a Summer Arts College in a Children’s Secure Care Home in Salford. In this post she shares her immediate thoughts and reflections on the experience. Rachel is a theatre practitioner, based in Manchester, creating theatre for, and with, a variety of communities and individuals. She is committed to directing and devising theatre which rouses conversation and stimulates social change.

“Work is a lot easier if you’re having fun”

A quote from a young person in Salford, and a perfect way to express the last three weeks delivering the Summer Arts College at a secure unit with a group of 9 young men. 

Heading into the unit, I was unsure whether I would be able to get the group through a silver arts award in three weeks, I’d never attempted it before. I was also aware they had a combination of complex needs and varying reading and writing abilities. 

However, very quickly it became clear we had all the tools needed to support them through. The secure unit I was working in had the most incredibly supportive staff who demonstrated a genuine care and passion for working with their young people. I had the constant support of TiPP, regularly offering me the opportunity to check in, touching base and encouraging me through-out. The young people also had the opportunity to work with and meet a diverse range of extremely talented artists, all bringing a unique workshop experience to the group. 

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I am proud to say the group went on to design, curate and deliver their own arts event to an audience of over 40 supportive members of staff. Each young person took an active role in the group devised performance, a tongue and cheek exploration of their experiences over the Summer Arts College. One young person, who had refused to perform initially, stood up and hosted the event in a blue top-hat, and another, seemingly shy, young person had the audience in stitches with a comedic and witty presentation. 

My experience over the last week has continued to prove to me that given the right support, space, time, energy, staff and passion, the arts can be an extremely powerful and transformative tool. 

Rachel McMurray