Making friends though learning

Posted by pt91 at Jul 08, 2011 12:23 PM |
University of Leicester arts centre releases new creative learning programme

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 8 July 2011

Arts-based courses are valued by the people of Leicester and Leicestershire as much for broadening their social life as developing their creative skills.

Recent research by Embrace Arts, the University of Leicester’s arts centre, found that people attended its courses and workshops for a leisure interest and for social purposes, as well as to learn new skills, develop existing ones and to try something different.

“Embrace Arts has helped me socially and given me a meaningful reason to go out. It has helped me with my health issues and improved my confidence,” one learner said.

The findings of the research with 117 course participants in Autumn 2010 have led to some exciting improvements to the latest Embrace Arts creative learning programme, which has just been released.

The programme features over 70 informal courses and workshops with new subjects, such as Bollywood dance, batik, digital photography and creating a play in a day, as well as the existing popular topics in visual art, crafts, dance, music, art history, sculpture, literature and jewellery making.

There is also more flexibility with courses and workshops lasting anything from one day to 14 weeks, starting at different times between September 2011 and April 2012 and taking place in the daytime and evenings, on weekdays and at weekends.

Embrace Arts will continue to offer high-quality teaching from experienced and enthusiastic tutors, many of them practising artists. Some 70% of those responding to the organisation’s creative learning survey rated the quality of teaching as excellent and 27% as good. “The supportive atmosphere and standard of teaching is second to none,”commented one learner. 

“We are thrilled at how much people value learning with us,” commented Embrace Arts co-director Louisa Milburn, “and how they keep returning to us. Our research found that 80% of people come back for at least a second year and some for far more. One told us ‘I have been coming here for 8+ years – I can’t put into words how much I have benefited’.”

The experience of being a creative learner at Embrace is highly valued, as one survey respondent explained: “Words cannot express what Embrace Arts has done for me - the level of teaching, the dedication and skill of the tutors, [and] the opportunity to meet and work with like-minded people.”

Embrace’s courses and workshops are suitable for both established creatives looking to develop their talents and those wanting to learn new skills in an enjoyable way but without too much commitment. No formal qualifications are required and disabled adults are particularly welcome.

Prices start at just £20, materials are provided and generally included in the price, and there’s free car parking next door at evenings and weekends, as well as the on-site licensed Arts Bar café. Embrace Arts is located on Lancaster Road, next to the fire station.

Bookings open at 10am on Monday 11 July 2011. Everyone booking before 31 August has the chance to win back their course or workshop fee. For more details, visit, call 0116 252 2455 or email

Notes to Editors

The research was undertaken by an independent consultant by means of a survey and a focus group. 117 people from the Embrace Arts’ Autumn 2010 creative learning programme participated. Two-thirds of the respondents were female. 19% described themselves as having a disability, reflecting the organisation’s commitment to arts and disability (prior to February 2010, Embrace Arts was known as the Richard Attenborough centre). A high proportion of Embrace Arts’ learners are retired people (49% aged 60 or over), not surprisingly for the daytime courses in particular, 29% are aged 40 – 59, and 17% are under 40 (5% chose not to give this information).

Further details are available from Gillian Garratt, Marketing Manager, Embrace Arts, email, tel 07973 188898.

Embrace Arts, Richard Attenborough centre, PO Box 138, Lancaster Road, Leicester LE1 7HA. Box office: 0116 252 2455; e-mail:

Embrace Arts

As the University of Leicester’s arts centre, Embrace Arts offers opportunities to everyone to participate without barriers in ways that challenge and inspire.

Its welcoming 120-seater performance area, art studios, extensive exhibition gallery and bright foyer space enable people to engage with the arts as audiences, performers and learners. Still one of the few arts venues that can boast a fully-accessible facility, Embrace Arts provides a focal point for cultural life on campus and in the wider community. More information is available at

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