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Members Experience 

What better way to find out about something than from those who have experienced it? 

Some of our members have shared their experiences of different elements of the ArtSpeak programme. Have a read below and get in touch with us if you'd like to share your own story. 

Just Jamming

I started learning the bass guitar after my 67th birthday towards the end of 2018 and went to a couple of the Just Jamming events with my partner a little over a year later, just to see what was involved and whether I “dared” play in public.  The second time we went, Donna actually took part with her alto sax – she found it incredibly inspiring and took a lot of confidence from the experience.  I decided I’d bring my bass the following month and… then came the first lockdown: no more Just Jamming!  Boooo!

When the air cleared a little and the event re-started late in 2021, we returned – both with our instruments this time! – and this time it was me that was blown away by the experience.  I made loads of mistakes, but from the moment Joe (the facilitator) asked me to lay down a bass line for the others to improvise over, I felt at home.  I’ve now been back several times; and my bass teacher says my playing has turned a corner as a result.  Donna has provided her own review elsewhere, but I know that she had also taken a great leap forwards, and continues to do so; to the extent that we are now looking forward to taking part in open mics and other public events.


I cannot recommend Just Jamming highly enough.  Even though Artspeak is aimed at the over-60s, attendees come from all over the age spectrum and there’s a real community feeling amongst us.  And why not?  Even though we come from diverse backgrounds and are at widely-differing levels of skill, we’re all in the same boat: making music together, encouraging each other to do better and just having a blast. It’s more than “just” jamming – it’s an inspiration.

Peter Carlton


"John and I really enjoyed the jam session yesterday - something we had never tried before, and it turned out to be a lot of fun. Joe is brilliant at running the session, and it felt very welcoming and un-threatening for newbies!"


Carol Williams

The Just Jamming sessions are an amazing opportunity to learn more about jamming and playing with other musicians. Taking that one step through the door to the first session (I nearly walked away!) has seen me go from an extremely nervous amateur saxophone player to a much more confident one. Just Jamming provides a truly welcoming and inclusive space in which you can explore music creativity, your potential as a music player and meet other lovely people. Everyone is at a different level in their playing, but everyone is understanding and supportive.  Joe (the facilitator) is always encouraging and reassuring. He creates fun practice activities and provides opportunities to try soloing.  I always leave the session buzzing with excitement and inspiration. It lifts my spirit.

Artspeak provides a wide range of other opportunities to explore art and meet new people. The opportunities to find out about different art forms are wonderful.  I have visited art galleries and taken part in music and theatre activities. I have signed up for dance workshops and poetry and intend to explore much more.  Engaging in a range of activities has improved my wellbeing and brought joy and fun. The organisers, Sharon and Hannah, are so welcoming and make you feel comfortable, especially when meeting new people.

Donna Humphrey 

Online content during lockdown

“Thank you so much for the ideas you are sending out. So many creative possibilities. Wanted you to know it is appreciated.”


“Enjoying Artspeak- even dabbled in yoga yesterday and began to write my first story of Nottingham. Keep up the very good work! It’s really making a difference to our days.”

“Thank you for all you are doing: I’ve been very interested and encouraged on all that you are doing and organising for so many housebound at this grey time. You bring colour into our lives!”

“Thank you also for introducing me to the Virtual Walks. I've attended 2 since and really enjoyed them. She brings history and Nottingham alive.” 

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“It’s wonderful to be part of a local Art Community. The variety of events you have been offering with ideas for continuing your journey in your own time have been invaluable"

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Kindred Spirits Theatre Group

“I wanted you to know how much it means to me to be involved in the sessions run by Tanya Myers and Stephen Lowe.  They both put in a lot of thought into these sessions which are both stimulating and creative... so important to us oldies especially those, like myself in lockdown, who live on their own. Not only does Tanya record all the work we produce from creative exercises sent to us, for a possible future production, but we all find it stimulating to continue to meet regularly on zoom for nearly 2 hours every 2 weeks to discuss these ideas which keeps our old brains stimulated.


So many thanks for introducing me to Artspeak and especially a big thankyou for Tanya and Stephen for the work that they have continued doing for the past year during lockdown."


Pat Robinson

Other comments 

"I love Artspeak activities as they are enabling me to put my toe back in the water and build on my confidence by gradually enabling me to participate in some of the groups It almost feels like I’m beginning to reenter the world I can’t tell you how much it means to me to be able to go on the sculpture park trip."

"Thanks for a great visit to you and Mervyn. Learnt a lot and laughed a lot - result!"

"Thanks so much for the handout, I found it really useful. Since your workshop I have managed to buy a couple of silk painting books second hand but your information is much better!

My paints arrived today and I can’t wait to get started. I’ll hopefully see you at another workshop in the future."

"Thank you for arranging today’s excellent visit to Eastwood. As in the visit to John Clare cottage , our tutor Mike was brilliant at promoting wider thinking about the writers.

It was pleasant meeting the other participants and on both occasions the lunch was most enjoyable. Can’t wait for the next visits!"

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“I was really looking forward to Friday at Attenborough but hopefully the event will be rescheduled when the rules allow. I thoroughly enjoyed Jack’s Zoom presentation and found it extremely helpful with plenty of tips to improve my camera skills which I put into practice over the weekend. I was really pleased with the results and this has given me an enthusiasm to continue with the hobby and further improve my photography. Thanks for your efforts.”

Cool Company Dance Group

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"It has been a really special and interesting experience being part of cool company’s Tues mornings at Contemporary.

Deane’s effortless, strong, witty and gentle leadership gets a whole room of non-dancers, dancing without them even realising!

I would very much like to attend another of her classes."

"I wanted to say a big thank you for offering the wonderful dance workshops with Deane McQueen at Nottingham Contemporary.  I have so enjoyed the three sessions I attended and am gutted to miss the next two. Talking to other people I think it is a response that is shared.


The sessions are perfectly and inclusively paced, with a lot of encouragement and opportunities to work appropriately to each dancer's needs. Including a time to sit and draw our responses and feelings about the dance is a very welcome part of the morning.  


The ideas explored are so creative and exciting, afterwards I think about them a lot, it also has made me think about many aspects of moving/dancing as an individual and as part of a creative ensemble. Having seen the Silver City 2094 exhibition a few times before coming to the sessions, exploring connections with particular exhibits has been really interesting and added a dimension that I wouldn't have anticipated."

"Our instructor was perfect. She didn’t teach at all, she had the depth to know that we each have our own teacher within us and she respected our individuality and that we are responsible for our own processes. She was a consummate facilitator. I cannot praise her skill enough. I loved her intuitive style and her authenticity. The course was everything I could have hoped for. I don’t mind the fact that this was just a short course and with no performance at the end. It was the process that mattered, and the process was the outcome. I needed to ‘dance’, to move and to feel deeply connected to my body in the moment. In every session, I felt this connection to myself and each week I found tears rolling down my cheeks during the movement. I loved the creative journaling with drawing too. 

Thank you Artspeak for this wonderful opportunity. These few weeks have meant a great deal to me, more than you could ever know. This short dance course has helped me to rebuild my identity and to reclaim my life."

"I really enjoyed being part of Cool Company and meeting and working with a new and diverse group of people. I looked forward to the weekly sessions which Deane guided us through effectively. I loved how we were given the tools, space and opportunity to improvise and express ourselves through movement and work collaboratively with others."

Helen May Johnson

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