Folk Arts Oxford aims to promote folk and traditional dance, music and song in the Oxfordshire region. In particular we are interested in improving access for those who might face barriers to participation in the arts.

Through our funded project work: children in Headington have learned about local lad William Kimber, and the musical legacy he has left; a new band called Iris has been formed, who accompany all their songs with Makaton signing; children from mainstream and special schools in Oxfordshire have the chance to create music together, and perform on the main stage at Folk Weekend: Oxford.

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. 

Last week we started the main part of the education side of BTTQ. We are doing workshops in two local schools, and from these workshops will be creating a resource for teachers to use to enable them to carry out the project themselves.

We started off in Wood Farm School, which is only a couple of minutes walk away from the cottage where Kimber was born! The children were fascinated to hear about his life, and especially so when they realised how close he lived to where they go to school.

We deliberately kept the workshops quite free-form, to enable the children to let us know what they found interesting - the group quickly split in to three, each with their own ideas about what they wanted to find out.

One group was very interested in researching facts about Kimber's life, particularly about all the different places he lived, and the houses he built. They made a poster with facts on, and also created a map of Headington with all the important places marked.

Another group made up a play to tell the story of the meeting between Kimber and Sharp, and the final group decided to focus on dance. They watched videos of the Headington Quarry Morris Dancers, and used what they saw to create their own dance. They even had a visit from a real live Morris Dancer on day 2, who taught them some steps!

And ALL of the children enjoyed learning the mini-melodeon!