Encourage social action in your community with Sankofa Storytelling Arts

Encourage social action in your community with Sankofa Storytelling Arts

Encourage social action in your community with Sankofa Storytelling Arts 1920 1280 WeMakeCamden

Sankofa Storytelling Arts is a Camden-based business that offers Solution-based Applied Drama approaches to the workshops for children that encourage critical thinking and find solutions to perceived obstacles. In this guest post, Vanessa Browne, Director of Sankofa Storytelling Arts, shares her tips to encourage social action in your community.

Sankofa Storytelling Arts is a drama business that is centred in using conversation and performance to imagine alternative outcomes to perceived obstacles. Our remit is solution-based, applied drama. This involves creating a safe space to try out ideas through  role-playing and social drama. I also look at paradigm-shifting storytelling, which explores what makes you think and why you think it. An example of this practice is in dealing with difficult or important issues – we present a story, and then I add obstacles in that story and give people the opportunity to create a new ending. For instance,with Hansel and Gretel, I turn the crumbs into balls of paper that represent fears such as feeling anxious about making a decision. With 20 years in community arts and education, I have identified the systems that unintentionally lead to barriers, as well as recognising issues of access and socio-economic inequality.

Camden has offered a supportive environment to take the plunge and create this business. My goals were to sustainably create art productions, courses and employ the local community with impact. Camden Giving, a charity with ambitious and inspiring aims of ending local poverty and inequality in Camden, were early allies in developing my ideas about using lived experiences to inform a new and creative entrepreneurial model.

Using support of partners to create a programme

Supported by Camden Giving and Regent’s Place Community Engagement Team, Sanofka Storytelling Arts developed a range of courses and workshops. This enabled us to support key groups in the community, such as local schoolchildren, community groups and volunteers. 

Camden Council also supported and helped us to scale, they offered support that helped us navigate the complex challenges of starting a new venture during a pandemic. Thanks to them we could expand and fearlessly create while including the many vibrant voices within our community. These voices inform our reflective practice, where issues raised in our processes inform the next scene or topic that we will cover.

How to encourage social action in your community

We think it’s so important to keep up with the conversations happening in our communities and build on the work we are doing to inspire more action. How do we do this? Read on for our top five creative ideas to encourage social action in your community.

Use dialogue to diversify resident groups

Community dialogue can feel difficult at the moment, for example Tenants and Residents Associations (TRAs) might not feel diverse, but there is space to be heard. There is a need to foster community dialogue and create equitable opportunities. For us, this means using our form of drama called Applied Theatre – which is an umbrella term for social drama, a process for developing new ideas and solutions – to open up dialogue.

Imagine a group of teenagers wish to develop a project that improves their employability, while also contributing to their neighbourhood. They could approach their local TRA or other existing community group with their ideas as youth ambassadors.  

 Through these new connections and conversations, we could create a new form of TRA, with equal representatives of older residents, teenage residents, parents and professionals. This is a big change, however there is a real need to celebrate and promote diversity and some really great projects may blossom.

Create an ideathon

How about we host a 24-hour ideathon for young people? TikTok, Instagram, whichever medium we choose, we support the teenagers in generating sustainable business or social justice campaign ideas and taking their ideas to the next stage, helping with tasks such as creating a marketing campaign and budgets, and giving them something they can add to their CV.

Spearhead diverse leadership in the community

Let’s celebrate the rich tapestry of lived experiences that reflect and respond to the needs of the community in an authentic way. Engaging different groups, from intergenerational groups, to one-parent families, under-18s and more, is a way to set up a ‘living directory’ of experience in Camden and could lead to some really exciting developments.

Use existing networks!

A great example of this is the way parents and carers can engage with their Parent Teacher Association (PTA). You don’t have to be the greatest networker, the point is to start a conversation and develop projects that benefit not just your little darlings but also yourselves. If language is a barrier, start a PTA for your particular groups, sub-groups can forge great projects for our Camden children and young people.

Collaborate with local organisations

Camden Council partnered with the brilliant organisation LABS to offer not just office space but mentoring with a business based within their beautiful co-working space. Get in touch with them, immerse yourselves with the range of resources on offer and make the plan to action your ideas.

Camden really is a kaleidoscope of enriched communities and organisations. We have a great opportunity to work together to tackle social injustices, seek participatory equity, and find new collaborative adventures, building on a multiplicity of fantastic ideas in our borough. Reach out to #WeMakeCamden for more details.

Want to find out about funding your community idea? 

Do you have a great idea that could help your community? The We make Camden Kit gives money and support to Camden residents and community groups who want to get started on a local project.

Residents and community groups can apply via Camden Giving’s website to receive up to £1,500 to deliver ideas that contribute to Camden’s four missions.

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