1st-31st July is Greater Manchester Fringe Festival; a month-long event aiming to celebrate new, upcoming performers and embrace talent.

The festival brings together Greater Manchester communities to celebrate and enjoy the arts at an affordable price.

Starting out in 2012 with just 6 venues, the festival can now be enjoyed in 26 venues across Greater Manchester.

We recently did a piece on the importance of funding the arts after Jessica Hynes’s BAFTA acceptance speech. Greater Manchester Fringe Festival is a great example of communities coming together to give the Arts a platform.

There’s plenty going on at various venues across the month of July so don’t miss out on supporting local artists and performers.

Forever Manchester funds and supports a various causes, including the Arts.

One of the many Arts groups we’ve funded is Proud and Loud Arts, based in Salford.

The members of Proud and Loud Arts have a range of disabilities, both physical and learning. Some members also live with mental health challenges resulting from their isolated circumstances.

Many live with family and are socially isolated with limited access to stimulating activity.

Young people living with disabilities have a variety of challenges with regard to developing and sustaining personal relationships as they become adults. This is particularly difficult in adolescence when the appropriate level of personal independence from carers and family members is in development. Often young people with disabilities have difficulty identifying and expressing this need, resulting in challenging behaviour and low self-esteem.

This limited confidence coupled with the impaired expectations of others has a lasting impact on the freedoms afforded to young people living with disabilities.

Proud and Loud Arts has shown people from the North West that people with disabilities are just as capable of producing good quality work as ‘able-bodied’ people. They increase their audience by taking their show on the road and by doing the tours, confidence and skills improve massively.

The group recently received a positive response from audience members who went to see the show including:

“The themes of exclusion really hit home to me, my father was disabled but still had a bright mind and it’s your spirit that’s important. The cast looked like they had a blast and it was well choreographed, they worked so well together. Loved it when they truly went beyond the fourth wall. Music was very good and atmospheric too, you must be pleased.” Philippa Usher, Development Co-ordinator, BBC Comedy North.

“The show was of a quality that reached out to a mainstream theatre audience, successfully matching inclusion with excellence and creating a thought provoking, insightful piece. The complexity of its content and the quality of the performances were to an extremely high standard; I loved the way that people’s abilities, personality and character strengths were utilised within the piece. The supporting artists were fully integrated into the performance without taking away the focus from the main performers or driving the action. It was visually very beautiful; effectively combining music, movement, poetry, comedy and drama. I felt that the performers owned the piece and believed in the important social, political and personal concepts that they were sharing.” Jennifer Riding, The Octagon, Bolton.

Funding from Forever Manchester was used to create a safe forum for discussion around the topic of personal relationships. Many of the group’s members live with family and the topic of developing personal relationships is a taboo subject and not spoken about. The weekly drama sessions were used to explore the reasons why this is the case and whether anything can be done to change this.

The project encouraged creative thinking and enable the group members to develop communication skills, both verbal and non-verbally.

Funding from Forever Manchester was also used to employ a specialist drama worker to run these weekly sessions. Many members have complex needs, therefore the group requires an experienced disability worker who will encourage and help the members to achieve their full potential.

The members have come to rely on Proud and Loud Arts as a forum to express themselves and to develop their skills in the arts.

If you would like to help us to fund more great projects like this one, DONATE TODAY and help to make a difference in your area.

Alternatively, if you are a community group, head to our FUNDING PAGE for information on funds you may be entitled to.