Spectrum Community Arts back with a bang post-lockdown as group celebrates fifth anniversary

Leighton Buzzard's Spectrum Community Arts has bounced back stronger than ever as it celebrates its fifth birthday and plans a 70-strong showcase for the summer.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 6th May 2022, 1:50 pm
Updated Friday, 6th May 2022, 3:40 pm

The dance, drama and sensory movement classes are for children and adults with additional needs, and were founded by Jade Cook in 2017 as she realised there was a need for local provision.

When the pandemic hit, sessions went online to show Covid-19 that it couldn't stop the fun, but now in-person lessons are back as the group marks an important year.

Jade, artistic director, said: "I'm excited, really excited. I remember someone saying to me that five years is the biggest milestone, because if a small business smashes that, they have what it takes to continue.

Spectrum Community Arts

"On reflection it's amazing. We have some performers who have been with us since the beginning and it's gorgeous to see how they have developed and grown in confidence."

During the pandemic, Spectrum Community Arts ran classes online, including interactive storytelling, dance routines, sensory movement, and sensory music (a collaboration with Key Beats), even producing YouTube videos.

However, while some children were unable to access the sessions, others could thrive on Zoom.

"If you're autistic, you could control the brightness of your screen, the volume, and there was only one person talking at a time, so you only had to read their body language - things they may struggle with face to face," explained Jade.

Spectrum Community Arts

Thankfully, in-person classes have now returned while Zoom classes have continued, so participants can choose which suits them.

Meanwhile, everyone is feeling excited for Spectrum Community Art's fifth birthday and fundraising party on Sunday, May 15, boasting a bouncy castle, arts and crafts, a dance floor, sensory props, refreshments and more!

Jade said: "It's lovely to be back!

"The party is free to attend and we'd love everyone to come and celebrate with us."

Spectrum Community Arts

Indeed, the cherry on the cake was being selected by Arts Council England to receive funding for this academic year, for which Jade is thrilled.

She told the LBO: "We have got a big showcase in July at Vandyke Upper School thanks to the funding.

"There's 70 performers and a lot of planning going into it."

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Spectrum Community Arts

Jade would like to say a special thank you to her volunteers, directors and the 'behind the scenes' team.

New volunteers are always welcome to classes once DBS checked - the oldest is 77 (!) - while the team is also appealing for media and marketing, photography, fund management, and fundraising volunteers.

Jade, who was born and bred in Leighton-Linslade, concluded: "I'm still working on the work-life balance but I just love it and I feel massively proud of myself and everything we've achieved.

"A couple of months ago we had some people come to film one of our sessions, and they interviewed one of our performers. He said: 'I come here to dance with Jade and I'm safe and I feel safe'.

"I was crying - that's what it's about, creating a safe space for people to be themselves."

The party on May 15 will be held from 2pm to 5pm in Grovebury Road Scout Hut and you do not have to be a member to attend.

Spectrum Community Arts

To view the weekly timetable, including new classes Mini Movers and Spectrum Songs, click here