Folk Arts Oxford aims to promote folk and traditional dance, music and song in the Oxfordshire region.

Alongside our own projects and events, FAO works collaboratively with other local organisations, forging links and creating opportunities for folk artists to work in education and community projects, as well as showcase their talent in local events.

Since we launched in 2012 we have worked in association with Oxford City Council, The Ashmolean Museum, Restore (a mental health charity), Cowley Road Carnival, and the Pitt Rivers Museum. In 2014 we worked with the English Folk Dance and Song Society to host a training day for Folk Educators in Oxford.

We are particularly interested in improving access for those who might face barriers to participation in the folk arts.

Inclusive Folk

In 2016, FAO was awarded funding from Arts Council England and Oxford City Council to carry out a pilot project aimed at improving access to the arts for children with disabilities. We will be working with three Oxfordshire SEN schools, bringing artists in to the schools to work with the children as well as helping to build their confidence in attending cultural events such as Folk Weekend.

You can follow what we've been up to on our blog below, or on our YouTube channel by clicking here!


   

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Latest updates:

Inclusive Folk Family Fun Day!

We are really looking forward to the Inclusive Folk Family Fun Day this weekend! 

This day is free of charge, and is for children and families who have been taking part in the Inclusive Folk workshops in Springfield, John Watson, and Mabel Prichard Schools.

Venue: Hill End Outdoor Activity Centre, Eynsham Road, OX2 9NJ.
We are in the Blue Dragon: Click here for a map of the site.

Programme for the day

The Family Fun Day will be running between 11am and 2pm, but you are welcome to arrive and leave at any time. The plan for the day is as follows:

11am: Concert with Iris, a folk band who perform all their songs with Makaton signing. This will be a fun and interactive concert, with chances for the children to get up close to the instruments, and join in with percussion. The concert will not be amplified.

11.45am: Free time. There will be some different activities going on - parachute games, musical instruments to explore, perhaps a bit of dancing, or just bring a picnic and sit outside in the sun! (Disclaimer: Sun is on order but the delivery date is not yet confirmed.)

12.30pm: Ceilidh! Come and have a dance - don't worry if you haven't done it before, we'll show you what to do. All the moves are easily adapted for people in wheelchairs or with other mobility problems, so everyone can be included!

Refreshments

We will have tea & coffee, and squash available, but please bring a packed lunch if you are staying over lunch time.

Contact Information

If you have any questions please contact Cat on 01865 881896, or on the day 07411422286. Alternatively you can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Access Information

Venue: Hill End Outdoor Activity Centre, Eynsham Road, OX2 9NJ.
We are in the Blue Dragon: Click here for a map of the site.

There is car parking available on site, and the Blue Dragon is right next to the car park. There is a ramp up to the door, and all the rooms inside are accessible for wheelchairs. There is a step inside the main room but it is possible to access the upper level via the corridoor.

There is an accessible toilet and baby change in the Blue Dragon. (Please note there is not an adult changing table or a hoist.)

 

Photos

Blue Dragon from the outside - photo taken from car park

Main Room (we'll take the tables out!) showing step to upper level

Main Room

Main Room from upper level

Upper level of Main Room

Extra Room

Outside area

Dance workshops in Springfield - with Laura Simpson and Hannah Moore

I had such an inspiring time running workshops at Springfield yesterday.

Each class that we spent time with brought new ideas, interests and responses so that I was really kept on my toes and constantly seeing fresh engagement opportunities and unexpected benefits. 

As a practitioner, what I gained the most from the experience was the chance to work with a complete spread of abilities within one session. This was a really good challenge and chance to practise ‘responding to the room’, thinking on my feet and working on leading a session that engaged everyone no matter what their capacity or interest.

There is a lot to be said for the Springfield school, which had a lovely welcoming and supportive vibe the moment I walked through the doors, and the care and attention with which the staff supported the students no doubt goes a long way towards enabling the students to be open, engaged and willing to give everything a go!

I love ceilidh dancing and calling for ceilidhs so much – one of my favourite ways to socialise and to exercise. It was really fun sharing this with the students and having a bit of a party at 2 in the afternoon.

Which reminds me of another aspect of today which was so delightful as a dance practitioner – working with skilled live musicians who could respond instantly to changes in direction and the dynamics of the class.

Music-making in Mabel Prichard: a blog by Jo May

I had a fantastic day at Mabel Prichard School as part of the Inclusive Folk project, running percussion workshops with Ollie and Jake. We worked with three groups in the morning and then saw them altogether for a short session after lunch. Each group was very different to the others but were all so inspiring in their own way. The children were very enthusiastic and the staff were just fab. I always prefer to work with an accompanying musician when running sessions in schools, but to be with two great musicians who were so easy to work with, was amazing!

Ollie and Jake played some tunes as the classes came into their sessions which gave everyone a feel for what was about to happen. We started off with a bit of spoon playing and all the groups really took to it. One of my highlights of the day was at the beginning of one of the sessions when we were playing spoons and singing 'She’ll be Coming Round the Mountain'. Some of the group instinctively jumped off their chairs and started started dancing round the room. And outside in the corridor was another pupil during pirouettes! 'Drunken Sailor' was also accompanied very enthusiastically, this time with drums, washboards, tambourines and triangles. And after that, we explored dynamic contrasts following a conductor - we discovered a few very willing conductors in the groups.

The children loved having a go at pushing the buttons on Ollie and Jake’s instruments, and seeing and hearing them close up. One of the boys was absolutely beside himself with excitement at the sound he’d just created! Some of children also put their arm inside the bottom of the djembe to feel the vibrations - I think some could have stayed there all day. We also created a watery type soundscape to create a slightly calmer atmosphere. The less able children were particularly fascinated by the rainsticks, ocean drums and other soft and mysterious sounds.

The afternoon session was more of a mass jam with lots of spoons, shakers and dancing, with a brief appearance from Willard the Jig Doll. It was so lovely to see children of different abilities joining in, in their own way and getting different things out of the sessions. We had some lovely feedback from one of the carers of a boy who had extremely limited mobility. She said that we may not have been able to tell, but she’d seen a fantastic response from him and that he’d loved it.

Seeing what the participants get out of these types of sessions is just really heart-warming. Some are playing and dancing with incredible energy; some are quietly listening in the background; some just love the feel of the instruments and the vibrations; and one preferred just to observe from the cupboard at the side of the room.

Thanks to Folk Arts Oxford and Mabel Prichard School for the opportunity, it's an incredible experience to be part of.

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