General, Funding, Partnerships

St Joseph’s Boys Showcase Films at the Millennium Forum

10th July, 2024

As the curtains closed on another school year, a group of students from St Joseph’s Boys’ School in Derry~Londonderry, marked the end of term with a very special event at the Millennium Forum.

Students set up a scene to film, alongside teachers, inside the Millennium Forum
CAPTION: Ciara McCallion, Head of Drama at St Jospeph's Boys School, and students are pictured with Mags Anderson, Education and Schools Marketing Officer, Millennium Forum

The group of 30 boys from year 9 and 10 have been taking part in a drama project this year in partnership with the education team at the theatre, designed to promote creative learning within the school. At the end of term event, the Millennium Forum screened films, developed by the students as part of a yearlong programme of activities, funded by the Creative Schools Partnership.

Supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland through National Lottery funding and the Education Authority, St Joseph’s are one of 11 schools taking part in the Creative Schools Partnership. The pioneering arts-based programme is designed to promote creative learning in schools, pairing student groups with professional artists and organisations to develop new skills and enhance their educational development.

Over the last 12 months students at St Joseph’s have had the opportunity to train with theatre professionals, gaining an insight into what it takes to stage a production, and attended a number of theatre shows. The boys also worked closely with actor and former St Joseph’s Boys’ School pupil Andrew Doherty to hone their acting skills, before penning their own stories, which they then shot and edited into short films.

Ciara McCallion, Head of Drama at St Joseph’s Boys’ School said the experience has had a huge impact on students. She commented: “This Creative Schools project has influenced each and every one of our pupils. The Millennium Forum has welcomed our students with open arms and offered them all a chance to fully embrace the arts at their local theatre. All of the boys have grown in confidence and now have an insight and understanding on everything that goes into producing a theatre show.”

Over recent months the boys have enjoyed exclusive backstage tours of the theatre, participated in a stage combat workshop, an acting masterclass with one of the cast from the West End musical, Sister Act, experienced a dance masterclass with Shrek The Musical’s Dance Captain and had Q&A sessions with the cast of some of the Forum’s biggest touring productions (Sister Act, Shrek and The Woman In Black).

Cara McCartney, Development & Creative Engagement Manager at the Millennium Forum said:

“We're absolutely thrilled that St Joseph's Boys’ School has teamed up with the Millennium Forum for their creative learning adventure. This perfectly aligns with our goal of introducing young minds to the world of the arts. We are passionate about nurturing young talents and we pride ourselves in developing close partnerships with our local schools community. We know that when young people dive into the arts, they discover the power of self-expression and build resilience, often sparking a lifelong love for the theatre and the arts. I am confident that this project will positively impact the lives of the young people involved and we look forward to working with them for the remainder of this project.”

St Joseph’s Boys’ School was one of eleven schools located in identified urban village areas awarded funding through the Creative Schools Programme in 2022. Each of the schools was awarded up to £15,000 of funding to develop a two-year arts-led project which would connect with the school curriculum and support student development.

Gilly Campbell, joint Director of Arts Development at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland commented: “The Arts Council, together with Education Authority, is delighted to support this innovative project through the Creative Schools Partnership Programme. Working with the team at the Millennium Forum, the students have learned about all aspects of theatre and what it takes to write and develop stories to be screened on stage and screen. The Creative Schools Programme is all about giving students opportunities to learn that they wouldn’t normally have in the classroom and the group at St Joseph’s has worked incredibly hard to grow and develop their confidence and skills over the last year. They should be hugely proud of the work they have produced.”

The eleven schools taking part in the Creative Schools Partnership Programme are Lisneal College, Belfast Boys’ Model School, St Joseph’s Boy’s School, Blessed Trinity College, Ashfield Girls’ High School, St Cecilia’s College, Mercy College Belfast, St Vincent’s Centre, Belfast Model School for Girls, Malone Integrated College, and St Colm’s High School.

Marie O’Donoghue, Creative Schools Programme Manager, commented: “This genuine and strong partnership between St. Josephs and their local theatre is a testament to the collaborations being driven by the Creative Schools partnership programme and reflects the innovative approaches for learning when government bodies work together. The chance to work alongside creative professionals has both raised aspirations and opened up a new world of possibilities for these students. This immersive experience has enabled them to be much more aware of the skills they can develop and the possible future employment that is on their doorstep. Creating partnerships between schools and creative professionals has the capacity to bring about change, not just in approaches to learning but also in how young people think about their future.”


Notes to editors:

The Creative Schools Partnership is supported through the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s National Lottery funds and the Education Authority for Northern Ireland, in line with a key action within the Northern Ireland Executive’s ‘Together: Building a United Community’ Strategy.

The Education Authority (EA) is responsible for ensuring that efficient and effective primary and secondary education services are available to meet the needs of children and young people, and support for the provision of efficient and effective youth services.

About the Arts Council of Northern Ireland

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is the lead funding and development agency for the Arts providing support to arts projects throughout the region, through its Treasury and The National Lottery funds. Arts Council funding enables artists and arts organisations to increase access to the arts across society and deliver great art that is within everyone’s reach.

To date, National Lottery players have helped to raise £48 billion for Good Causes, with more than 685,000 individual awards made across the UK. With hundreds of lottery grants in every postcode district, most people will have benefited from a National Lottery-funded project at some point.