Destinies is a co-creation performance project made with looked after young people, young unaccompanied asylum seekers and professional artists. Young people have written and created characters, scenes, animation, composed music, lyrics as well as singing and performing.

What we wanted to achieve

Through our partnership with Derbyshire County Council, Orchestras Live developed a new partnership with Derbyshire Virtual School (DVS) to explore how an orchestral dimension could enhance their work with vulnerable young people and their existing network of Creative Mentors.

What we did

This partnership quickly translated into a collaboration together with Ava Hunt Theatre, Sinfonia Viva and a group of unaccompanied migrant young people and looked-after children who had been drawn together in a previous theatre project. An artistic team of composer Raph Clarkson, theatre director Ava Hunt and three musicians from Sinfonia Viva began working with the young people and their DVS Creative Mentors in autumn 2019. Initial workshops showed how well the participants responded to the creative activity of theatre writing and acting, visual art, and song-writing.

The evolving process was then interrupted by the initial lockdown in March 2020, suddenly compounding the issues of loneliness and mental health faced by the young people.

Destinies workshops

Credit: Chris Webb

The project partners responded quickly to this situation, planning ways to sustain the creativity through periodic Zoom workshops in which the participants could contribute ideas which the artists collected and developed into recorded songs, forming part of a theatre narrative about leaving home. This was made into a ten minute film illustrating some of the work-in-progress along with an insight into the process. The film was shown in the Care about Care? online festival, produced by Curious Monkey in October 2020, and the young people and artists gathered at Derby Theatre for a preview showing of the film and a rare opportunity to sing their songs together in the same space.

I couldn’t really talk when I first arrived. When I did get involved and start to get on the stage it did put me in a position where I have to talk or I have to just shut it completely down. So I decided to just stand up and be strong as I am really.

~ Participant

As we emerged from lockdowns and social distancing, a period of in-person workshops was held, further developing the young people's theatrical and musical material into a fully produced 45 minute film.

Two years in the making, the premiere screening of Destinies took place in November 2021, again in a Care About Care Conference in Derby. The premiere event began with a personal introduction by one of the young people who co-curated and performed the piece in collaboration with Sinfonia Viva and Ava Hunt Theatre.

Watch the film here:

Taking part has built my confidence, my social life and, creatively, helped me to focus on my writing by writing about different things. It’s made me feel I’m really capable of achieving all the good things I have in my head, and it’s another opportunity to see where it takes me.

~ Participant

Our impact

The reimagining of Destinies into an online experience enabled isolated young people to reconnect with others, to explore their own creativity and to celebrate their personal stories through working with professional artists and Creative Mentors. It has provided a safe space for those involved to thrive personally as well as artistically.

It just helped me a lot to inspire myself to be better than what I am, to be the best I am really, the best version of me.

~ Participant

In 2021, Destinies won a Children and Young People Now award in the Arts and Culture Category. The award recognised Destinies as a project which had 'done the most to inspire children and young people in cultural activities, [...] especially among disadvantaged groups'.

Then in 2022, Derby Mainframe awarded Destinies its Creativity for Good award. The award celebrates projects which contribute to the betterment of lives through creative means across Derby and Derbyshire.

Judges praised the way the projects used drama and music to help people understand cultural issues, saying “the passion really comes across."

~ Citation for Destinies' CYPN Award 2020

Watch the work-in-progress documentary on YouTube.

Destinies was supported by Derbyshire County Council, Orchestras Live and Arts Council England through its Emergency COVID19 Response Funds.