Take Art, Derby Theatre, Surrey Arts & Paul Hamlyn Foundation present

Making & Believing Conference

Mon 25 Mar, 2024 Archive
Join us for the Making & Believing Conference: Fostering creativity within Early Years.

Following the successful early years project Making & Believing this conference aims to energise you whilst you explore creative play for early years children. The conference is a perfect opportunity for early years practitioners and artists to come together to network and to learn from professionals.

Join us to:

  • Build your toolkit by joining practical creative sessions led by experienced artists.
  • Discuss very young children’s creativity with early years peers.
  • Join an invited group of nursery children and their staff to experience a beautiful, heart-warming dance show designed for early years children.
  • Hear presentations from known and respected speakers with extensive experience in leading early childhood arts research.

We hope you will end the day feeling enriched and empowered. 

This event is produced by Making & Believing project partners Take Art (Somerset), Derby Theatre and Surrey Arts and is funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

Closing Date

Please note that The Making and Believing Conference tickets will continue to be available for purchase until Wednesday 20 March, to ensure ample time for staff to adequately prepare for the event.


Derby Theatre


Time: 10:00am - 3:30pm
Performance duration: 5 hours and 30 minutes

Booking Information

Please Note: only one ticket per booking can be purchased. For group bookings, each party member must be booked individually to allow all delegates’ choices to be selected.

During the day there will be two Breakout Sessions at 11:10 am and 12:05 pm.

You must choose two out of three workshops to attend from the options available during these sessions. Early booking advised to secure your preferred choices.

To view the workshops available, please refer to the section title ‘Breakout Sessions’.

Once you have chosen, simply add your ticket to your basket and you will be asked to select your workshop choices through a drop-down menu.

Lunch will be provided at Derby Theatre. You will be asked to let us know of any dietary requirements when booking tickets.

Option 1: PlayReflectRepeat

Exploring free association and cross arts creativity for an early years setting.
Led by: Kate Comberti and Michaela Collings

• Michaela (dancer) and Kate (Musician) welcome you to the Play – Reflect – Repeat creative arts space.

• Starting from silence, you will be invited to enter the room and immerse yourself in the play space from a multi- sensory perspective, and through the whole body.

• You should be prepared to move within your own comfort range and interact with resources on your own or with others.

• Kate and Michaela will offer questions as reflective provocations which you can answer in your own way, including through the resources you are exploring.

• There will be time for a short question and answer session at the end.

Kate Comberti, a dedicated music tutor and mentor, contributes expertise to the MA in Early Years Music program at CREC, Birmingham City University, and the CME:EC at Trinity College, London. As a professional orchestral violinist, her research explores the significance of music education in the early years, whilst she actively engages with early years settings children aged between 2 and 5 years in a holistic and multi-modal approach to music education. Kate delivered the Making & Believing project in Surrey.

Michaela Collings, a community dance practitioner trained at Trinity Laban, spreads her passion for dance in diverse settings, including nurseries, children’s centers, schools, youth clubs, and care homes. Through a blend of contemporary dance technique and creative expression, she fosters a space for people of all ages and abilities to explore new movement vocabulary, discover their dance language, and freely express themselves. Michaela delivered the Making & Believing project in Surrey.

Option 2: Building structures & spaces to hide in.

Led by: Richard Tomlinson

Working collaboratively within a small group build a pyramid shaped den using simple materials such as: bamboo, masking tape, lining paper, string, tissue paper and translucent materials. Make your hiding place unique by decorating it with flags and bunting. You might even decide to decorate the walls of your little cave with drawings, or impressions of your hand.

A simple group activity designed to encourage creativity on a larger scale, collaboration, imaginative play and three-dimensional creativity.

At the end of the activity there will be an opportunity for the groups to come together to show their den and share their thoughts.

Richard Tomlinson works as an artist based in Somerset. His studio practice includes photography, video and sound art. Richard is also an established community facilitator and has gained specific experience through Take Art’s programme of early years work.

Over the past 20 years Richard has collaborated with a number of arts and culture organisations including: The South West Heritage Trust, Somerset Art Works, Activate Performing Arts, Take Art, Mendip Hills AONB, Pavilion Dance South West, The Museum of Somerset and Plymouth City Museum.

Richard was awarded an MA in Art & Design Advanced Practice and Theory, specialising in Photography and Digital Media, from the University of Derby.

For more info visit: www.originallight.co.uk

Option 3: Creative Conversations

Join a discussion with Early Years peers, all of whom share a passion for creative play within early years educationA chaired panel comprised of people who have recent, direct experience of fostering creativity in early years settings will lead these sessions   hear their stories, share thoughts and ask questions. 

Panel Members

Jane Parker (Chair) – Take Art Early Years Education and Music Specialist, M&B Artist Mentor

Caroline Barth – Creative Learning Director, Derby Theatre, M&B project lead for Derby

Helen Kelk – Headteacher, Rosehill Infant & Nursery School, M&B host setting

Monika Johnson and Rachel Scanlon – Creative Practitioners, M&B Artists

Dr Kay OwenChildhood Research Lead, University of Derby. 

£25 Full Day, including a hot meal at Lunch

In order to make this event as accessible as possible the ticket price has been subsidised through Making & Believing project funding provided by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

Please Note: only one ticket per booking can be purchased. For group bookings, each party member must be booked individually to allow all delegates’ choices to be selected.

9.30 am – 10.00 am: Arrival with refreshments

10.00 am – 10.15 am: Welcome

10.15 am – 10.50 am: Presentation by Dr Susan Young

10.50 am – 11.10 am: Break with tea and coffee available

11.10 am – 11.55 am: Breakout Session 1

11.55 am – 12.05 pm: Move to next Breakout Session

12.05 pm – 12.50 pm: Breakout Session 2

12.50 pm – 1.40 pm: Lunch and networking

1.40 pm – 1.50 pm: Move to Main Auditorium for Show

1.50 pm – 2.35 pm: Early Years Show

2.35 pm – 2.45 pm: Comfort break

2.45 pm – 3.20 pm: Presentation by Debi Keyte-Hartland

3.20 pm – 3.30 pm: Final thoughts, thanks and goodbye

Watch the early years show Choogh Choogh by Beeja as it is performed to an invited early years audience. 

All aboard for a delightful train journey through India.

Experience the sights, sounds and smells evoked through South Asian dance, music and theatre; and meet some amazing characters along the way.

Dr Susan Young

Susan Young lectured at the universities of Exeter and Roehampton specialising in early childhood, music education and childhood studiesIn her early career she taught in primary schools, early childhood settings and secondary schoolsNow retired, she holds the position of Honorary Distinguished Fellow at the Centre for Research in Early Childhood (CREC), BirminghamShe has completed PhDs in music education and biological anthropology, and originally trained as a pianist before gaining qualifications to teachShe has participated in many early childhood projects that have focused on music, theatre and creativity and has worked closely with a range of arts organisationsShe has written several books and numerous articles and is frequently invited to speak at conferences, both nationally and internationally.

Debi KeyteHartland 

Debi is a passionate advocate for the arts in early childhood education, illuminating what is possible if we value children’s creativity and their 100 Languages.   She works as an independent consultant, coach and artist-educator across the UK and internationally exploring creative and reflective approaches that foster and generate the fertile conditions for young children’s curiosity, enquiry and expression to evolve.  Debi is an Associate Consultant with Early Education and a specialist MA Tutor (creativity and the arts in early years) with CREC (Centre of Research in Early Childhood), and a recognised teacher-educator of the Reggio Emilia Approach with Reggio Children.  She is part of the ESRC funded research team exploring Children’s Participation in Schools in Wales with a partnership of 4 universities and is pedagogical coach and mentor on Early Education’s SPACE to Flourish project , which is Supporting Pedagogy in Art and Creativity in Early Years (SPACE) – supported by the Mercers’ Company as trustee of the Charity of Sir Richard Whittington.

Derby Theatre aims to maximise accessibility and inclusion for all of our events.

If you require a BSL interpreter, email DerbyTheatreTickets@derby.ac.uk by Mon 4 March.

For any additional access needs or inquiries, feel free to reach out – we’re here to help!

Share the excitement! Join us at the Making and Believing Conference, where thrilling moments are meant to be experienced together. Your participation might lead to your inclusion in captivating images, whether it’s through dynamic film footage or compelling still photography. If you prefer not to be photographed during the event, kindly notify us in advance by emailing c.mitchell@derby.ac.uk. Your comfort is our priority.

Funders & Partners

The Making & Believing Project 

“Children make-believing, artists belief-making.” 

Making & Believing offers high quality experiences through multi art-form creative residencies, performances and workforce development within early years settings.  The project supports children, early years practitioners and creative practitioners through opportunities for knowledge and skills sharing and respects all participants as co-facilitators.  

Regular Early Years participation and performance tours took place in Somerset, Derby and Surrey as follows: 

  • Creative residences within early years settings where pairs of artists deliver creative sessions in collaboration with staff and children. 
  • Specialist early years theatre shows performed to children, staff and parents in early years settings as well as in theatres. 
  • Regular project sharing and learning seminars provide opportunity for knowledge sharing, discussion, and learning with artists and early years practitioners, project staff and researchers attending. 

Case studies and learning feed into research led by Dr Susan Young.  

This rich action research programme is funded by Paul Hamlyn Foundation, led by Take Art and delivered in partnership with Derby Theatre & Surrey Arts from 2020-2024