Daisi Celebrates 20 Years

On the 23rd October 2018 Daisi invited friends, partners and collaboraters to join us for an evening to celebrate 20 years of fostering arts engagement in the lives of young people in Devon, Torbay and beyond.

The evening was held at St Stephen’s church on Exeter’s High Street. The location gave guests the chance to view the exhibition from Daisi’s Re-Boot project ‘Uncovering Layers of Exeter’s History’ which showcased children’s artwork from the project, created alongside its 5 artists. You can still view and interact with Re-boot’s art works by its over 430 young participants in shop windows on Paris street, and coming soon to a Christmas Tree in Exeter City Centre!

The 20th celebration presented an opportunity for guests to experience the exhibition, network, and hear from some of Daisi’s founders, partners and friends including the Deputy Lord Mayor. There was even birthday cake! It was a chance to come together and celebrate arts and culture in the region, the impact that Daisi has had on communities and the lives of young people, and to look forward together.

The event was a great success, with over 80 people in attendance and we thank you all for joining us!

Here’s to the next 20 years…

Keep reading for information on the speeches that took place during the evening…

Photography by Sam Baker

Detail on the Evening’s Speeches

Liz Hill, Daisi’s Director:


We often say that it’s difficult to describe what Daisi does.  It’s complicated to sum it up.  Because we do so many things with so many people.  But it isn’t complex – we only do one thing.  We’ve only ever done one thing.

And that is making sure that young people get an arts education.

Why do we care?  Because everyone involved, all those mentioned so far this evening, all the artists, all the teachers, all the supporters and partners, believe that an arts education is a child’s right.

You can see our Impact of Artists in Schools document on the table in this room.  Daisi’s first project.  Very clear gains (for young people working alongside artists) were identified during that project.  And these are at the heart of everything Daisi does.

Recognised within those gains are the artistic and cultural, but also the social and emotional – a vital role that the arts can play particularly for more vulnerable young people.


Daisi’s 20 years has been that of changing context.  Sometimes there have been lots of opportunities to use to navigate towards our vision.  Sometimes it’s been really, really hard.

But as you’ve already heard, partnership is at the heart of Daisi, as is creativity, flexibility, accepting the challenge of finding new ways to progress, and above all hard work and team spirit.  And by that I mean the full team – all collaborators.  There is so much will out there, represented by many people in this room who have all played a vital role in the journey.

At the moment finding support – in its many forms – is absolutely critical.  We know we have to work at gaining this support – at articulating for a really wide range of people why the arts are so crucial for young people, and why the cultural education of our youth is everybody’s business.


And we are prepared for change, and used to working with change.  We’re developing new products so that even more young people can benefit from some of our funded R&D projects, such as those where we’ve explored young people-led Digital art, and creative workshops in schools supporting young people experiencing mental health issues.

We’re embracing digital in our artistic projects, such as Re-boot within which you stand now, as well as looking at how we can maximise our impact by using technology.

We are reaching out even more to work collectively with others to achieve more than we could alone.  Daisi is one of Youth Music’s 13 strategic organisations in the AMIE (Alliance for a Musically Inclusive England).  We’re leading Devon’s Cultural Education Partnership, which has involved over 100 people so far in driving a more joined-up and visible cultural offer especially for the most vulnerable young people.  We’re in a Social Care, Play, and arts collective, working out how to support learning disabled young people to take part, lead and progress in the arts.


We haven’t finished the job.  We are once again in the kind of situation that sparked Daisi to form in the first place.

There is compelling evidence (from the Cultural Learning Alliance) that children’s access to arts in schools is declining. Department for Education data shows that there are now 16% less arts teachers in secondary schools than there were in 2010, and the arts are taught for 17% less hours. The most recent data on GCSE entries from Ofqual for summer 2018 shows that arts entries have declined by 34% since 2010 and 9% 2017 to 2018.

If children are not taking arts subjects in schools they cannot progress on to higher level courses that lead to careers in the creative industries.  And they cannot benefit from the unique social and cultural learning that can help them in every walk of life, and in their own perceptions of themselves as able to make decisions about how their lives go.


So, there is much to do:

  1. we want more setting staff to feel confident and connected in making a cultural offer to their young people
  2. we want more young people to access and lead their own arts practice and progression
  3. we want more commissioners to commission the arts to address their community’s needs
  4. we want more members of the public saying yes to an arts education as essential for our young people, and supporting us to promote that

I’ll end with a few of my favourite things that Daisi’s young participants have said:

“That day I felt fantastically great!” 

“This was the best day of my life – so far.”

“I wanted it, to keep, for myself.”

Information on Guest Speeches

Ken Parr – Devon Education Fund, member of Daisi’s Soundwaves (Youth Music) project steering group, and former lead for Devon Music Education Hub


Daisi’s Re-boot project has been supported by The Devon Education Fund.  Ken Parr represented the DEF and talked about what it is about Daisi’s Re-boot project that DEF were keen to support, and why this sort of opportunity is important to young people’s education.


Monica Shanta Brown – Artist (member of Daisi’s Re-boot project Artist team)


Monica brought the experience of an independent artist who has worked on a number of significant projects with Daisi, including Re-boot.  Monica talked about what inspires her about working with young people, what she gains as a participatory artist from working in partnership with Daisi.


Phil Creek

Artist, Daisi Founder, former Arts Adviser for Devon County Council

Phil spoke from the perspective of a founding member in the formation of Daisi – which was as a response to the need identified in 1995-98.  Phil reflected on what that need was, and how Daisi has addressed that need in changing times.


Dan Barton – Communication & Partnerships Lead DYS Space, long-term partner on Daisi’s Soundwaves (Youth Music) project


Dan spoke from the perspective of a long-term Daisi partner in non-formal young people’s settings.  Dan explained how partnering with Daisi helps DYS Space to improve outcomes for its young people.
Evelyn Stacey – Heritage Lottery Fund South West Committee


Evelyn spoke from the perspective of the Heritage Lottery Fund.  Evelyn explained why HLF have supported Daisi’s Re-boot project, and why HLF see the arts as a medium through which young people can engage with heritage.


Lesley Pattison –  Daisi outgoing Chair


Lesley spoke from the perspective of long-term Chair of Daisi.  Lesley talked about how Daisi has developed over that period. Lesley thanked all Board and staff – past and present, who have been part of that journey.


a written message from Zannah Doan – Director Pavilion Dance South West, and former Director at Daisi (read by Emily Burnett, Daisi Volunteer)


Zannah’s speech was from the perspective of Daisi’s early years, noting what was important then and what was unique then. Zannah noted why the spirit of collaboration was set into Daisi’s DNA.
a written message from Pippa Warin – Daisi Founder, former Daisi Chair, former Arts Council England senior staff (read by James Hennessy, Actor, Teacher, former Daisi Chair)


Pippa spoke as a Daisi founder, but also from her perspective working at Arts Council England in recent years. Pippa noted how Daisi’s work fits in with South West and national need, and how Daisi is viewed by ACE in ACE’s role of championing, developing and investing in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives.


Deputy Lord Mayor of Exeter – Councillor Rachel Clare Lyons




The Deputy Lord Mayor expressed the importance of arts in young people’s lives and education and the value that the local authorities place upon Daisi, as a county-wide charity enriching the lives of young people and their communities.


Katie Boundy – St Luke’s Science and Sports College


Katie stressed the importance of arts in schools in 2018 (and beyond), and how partnership with Daisi is supporting the school’s needs – and can support the school’s needs in the future.