Music helps HB teens to thrive Funding to expand the programme
Since it started just over five years ago, more than 160 teenagers have benefited from the Project Prima Volta (PPV) music programme, with plans to expand it to include younger primary school students as well.
In the latest round of Hastings District Council’s annual contestable funding allocations the project received $18,500, in line with the council’s aim of “building a safe, liveable, sustainable community”.
PPV founder Anna Pierard says the funding will be put towards an in-depth feasibility study to support scaling the existing programme for younger age groups, producing better outcomes for more kids.
Every year 30 teenagers aged between 15 and 18 and from diverse backgrounds, are accepted for the year-long programme that uses opera and performance as a platform to build confidence, and find purpose and meaning as they navigate the path to becoming adults.
Training for up to eight hours a week, attendees work alongside international and home-grown industry professionals, as well as local performers and volunteers, culminating in filling support roles in a major opera production during Tremain’s Art Deco Festival.
Ms Pierard says there have been numerous success stories of teenagers in the programme overcoming challenges to turn their lives around.
“We’re worried about kids — the statistics are awful in New Zealand.
“We want to actively support parents and schools to help offset the pressures of today’s world by developing our music programme to deliver a comprehensive singing-based music education across schooling.”
Research has shown that people with anxiety experience it less when they are fully absorbed in an activity, she says.
“This has been fundamental to our success — we give these kids who are struggling something that meets their capabilities, but is also challenging, fun and transformative.
“It’s absorbing, so that trains the focus, which deepens their enjoyment and builds their skills — we want more young people to experience this and music making is the ideal tool.”
The study is key to identifying where efforts should be targeted to deliver the positive outcomes being sought, Ms Pierard says.
“We need to determine exactly what it is we’re doing that’s working so we can target investment, and bring about positive and permanent transformations for even more kids.”
The council’s social and cultural development committee assesses the grant applications each year and chairman Malcolm Dixon says this is another worthy cause.
“This innovative programme has already made a big difference to the lives of many teenagers and the committee fully supported it being extended to younger people who would also benefit from it.”
In the last two years, Project Prima Volta students have also got involved with the annual Harcourts Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival and this year have produced a show called Scena , to be performed at the Iona College Blyth Performing Arts Centre on October 16 and 17.
Scena, meaning “a scene in an opera”, will contain selected scenes from favourite classic operas led by Jose Aparicio, with guest directors Glen Pickering and PPV graduate Katherine Winitana.
Tickets from www.hbaf.co.nz
Through music and performance Project Prima Volta students are supported to find a positive path through the teenage years and beyond.