Paul Rhodes’s verdict on Accessible Arts and Media, Big Birthday Bash, Temple Hall, York St John University, October 29

Party celebrations for Accessible Arts and Media

40 YEARS and counting. Accessible Arts and Media, the York charity committed to helping people to shine, also knows a thing or two about parties. And organised chaos!

This sold-out event also celebrated a number of milestones, including AAM’s 30-year partnership with York St John University in performances from York St John Contemporary Ensemble and Communitas Choir.

Their well-chosen songs combined celebration, inclusion and elegy. Each of the performers (AAM supports disabled young people and adults, older people living with dementia and memory loss and people with mental ill-health) were able to take part on their own terms.

Rose Kent speaking at Accessible Arts and Media’s Big Birthday Bash

Centre stage were the trio of AAM groups, starting with IMPs ,who set the afternoon off, then the first performance of the Movers and Shakers choir, before Hands and Voices brought the house down to finish. There were a number of star turns, some planned and others taken on the spur of the moment.

Rose Kent, who has overseen so much over the past 30 years, was the master of ceremonies and our guide, introducing songs from AAM’s past and present. The charity has stuck true to its commitment to helping people to feel happy, connected and valued. The warmth in the room, and the miles of smiles was testament to that.

The party ended with an all-on-stage, uproarious  We’re AAM How’z At, (to the tune of On Ilkla Moor Baht’at), marvellously conducted by Anna Snow. As AAM’s innovative minds ponder the future, we need them making music and making friends more than ever.

Review by Paul Rhodes