‘Zhoosh’* was a music and arts project for young people who identify as LGBT+(Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and other identities such as intersex and questioning) funded by Youth Music, Arts Council England, Superbia and The Manchester Guardian Society Trust. The young people were from three different LGBT+ youth support groups each based in a different Greater Manchester borough; Rochdale Inside Out led by the Proud Trust, all three Salford LGBT+ youth support groups led by Salford City Council and Wigan BYOU led by Wigan Council.
Firstly, each group worked with composer and conductor Michael Betteridge, to explore individual musical abilities and genre and style preferences, develop skills in individual and group composition, lyric writing, singing, conducting and performance. This culminated in the young people recording their own composition work at professional recording studios. This features on CD’s or you can listen for yourself on Soundcloud, Youtube and Vimeo.
Check out a song written and performed by Jace, a young person from the Wigan BYOU group who took part in the Zhoosh project and achieved the Silver Arts Award
The young people were audience members for exclusive performances by artists who identify as LGBT+ who are experts in their field. This included Kate O’Donnel from Transcreative who performed at extract of her show, You’ve Changed, actor Rob Ward who led drama workshops and performed monologues and musician Tolu Ajayi who performed and led music making workshops. Writing workshops were lead by Jackie Hagan and Louise Wallwein who also performed extracts from their own plays. The young people noted how valuable it was to see performances by artists who were so confident in their LGBT+ identity and have the opportunity to ask questions about their careers and any challenges that had been overcome. The groups also visited cultural venues that many had never been to before including a backstage tour of the Bridgewater Hall and performing in Manchester Art Gallery.
All three groups of young people were able to share their music and other artwork they had created such as:
- Live performances at Wigan Pride, Pink Picnic (Salford Pride) and Rochdale College for LGBT+ History Month
- Workshops and live performances for Rainbow Playground (National youth LGBT+ festival by the Proud Trust),
- Live performance for Trans Creative Trans Arts Festival launch at Manchester Art Gallery
- Screening of films, live music performances and poetry readings at HOME Manchester followed by a discussion panel featuring Tandem Theatre Artistic Director Frances Nutt, Music Director Michael Betteridge, Poet and Actor Jacki Hagan, Greg Thorpe and Proud Trust Founder and Operations Director, Sally Carr MBE
- Producing and recording their own radio shows featuring their music tracks played on Reform Radio for Trans Awareness Week
- Youth led performances and pop up exhibition for LGBT+ History Month Wigan
100s of young people took part in the project and the core groups that were established stated how confident they had grown through taking part in the programme. One young person from the Wigan group in particular even stated:
I never was interested in music or anything like that before, but now I’ve done this, music, acting and the arts, it’s what I want to do with my lifeZhoosh participant, Wigan
The groups also took part in workshops exploring other arts forms such as drama, filmmaking and spoken word poetry. This lead to the achievement of 51 Arts Award qualifications in total, consisting of 46 Bronze and 5 Silver levels.
The project provided artists and arts organisations with Trans Awareness training including:
- The Proud Trust delivering Trans Awareness training for the musicians across Greater Manchester as part of the Brighter Sounds network
- LGBT+ Inclusivity training by Salford City Council Integrated Youth Support Services for The Lowry Theatre’s Development with Artists programme followed by an exclusive performance by Kate O’Donnel from Trans Creative
- LGBT+ Inclusivity Training by Salford City Council for staff at the Bridgewater Hall
*Zhoosh is a term used in the Polari slang language popular in gay subculture meaning ‘to make more exciting and lively’.
We are grateful to our funders Youth Music, Arts Council England, Superbia, Salford CVS and The Manchester Guardian Society Charitable Trust that made this project possible.
We are also grateful to our youth partners, cultural partners and events partners for supporting us and sharing their resources to ensure the young people could have their horizons widened and reach their potential.
Tandem Theatre | The Castle | Lewis Street | Eccles | Manchester | M30 0PU
Company number: 8408118 | Registered Charity number: 1157001