Work Of Creative Learning Centres Throughout Pandemic Praised

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has praised the work of Creative Learning Centres in supporting young people, schools and community groups throughout the pandemic.

Speaking during a visit to L'Derry's Nerve Centre, Minister Hargey said: "Our creative industries are changing and growing and we must help all of our talented young people to take advantage of the opportunities that offers, and to realise their full potential. The Nerve Centre does this by providing first class support to young people, schools and community groups who wish to access learning opportunities and utilise cutting edge technology which can boost the creative skills, digital literacy and career prospects of our young people.

"The pandemic has brought into sharper focus the importance of developing these skills, particularly for those young people facing disadvantage, and I commend Nerve Centre for the work done to maintain access to its programming over the past year."

Nerve Centre is one of three Creative Learning Centres (CLCS) and is a key partner in delivering the Department's digital creativity and screen sector programming. Nerve Centre and Nerve Belfast received over £1m in funding from the Department through Northern Ireland Screen in 2020/21, including additional assistance to ensure that young people were not hampered by a lack of access to technology while working at home.
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End year reports for 2020/21 across the three CLCs showed that 3,610 teachers received over 1,260 hours of training and 8,022 young people from 738 schools participated in 185 programme days. 76% of Nerve Centre activity was delivered in schools with a large catchment of young people from disadvantaged areas. These figures are far in excess of normal targets and reflect the CLCs' quick and effective response to the education sector's emerging needs in relation to creative digital delivery during the pandemic.

Martin Melarkey, Director of Education and Strategy, Nerve Centre, said: "The pandemic has challenged all of us to be innovative and to find digital solutions that allow us to escape isolation and creatively collaborate with others. Over the past 18 months, we have helped schools and community groups greatly increase their capacities to use digital tools and technologies to promote more dynamic approaches to creative learning and to meet their community needs by making all of our training courses and creative programmes freely available online.

"We provided teachers with online training sessions and supported them with subject specific digital learning resources. 50 3D printers were supplied to schools across the region and online training has ensured that digital fabrication techniques are now embedded in curriculum learning. Our programmes helped pupils learn skills in animation, music and coding through joining online creative clubs from their homes."

Nerve, through NI Screen, were also delivery partners in the Department's Culture, Languages, Arts and Heritage Support Fund, delivering a further £250k of funding to screen sector renewal projects in response to the pandemic. The Centres also used their digital fabrication technology and expertise to support the manufacture of thousands of items of PPE for the NHS, local hospices and care homes, with staff volunteering to help.

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