Three tips for creating great arts opportunities for young people

Date published: 24 Mar 2014

Posted by: Kate Duncan

Speaker talks to audience

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Over the past six months City Arts has been working with Arts Connect West Midlands on a research project that aims has been to identify the all the creative work taking place for young people in Staffordshire.

As part of the research we ran events, at the New Vic Theatre and Tamworth Assembly Rooms, exploring the difference that arts and culture makes, and can make, to young people in the area.  Delegates included artists, representatives from arts and cultural organisations, people working in education & those providing services for young people and the community. The events celebrated their work, offered a space to share good practice and a chance to network.

There were lots of good ideas flying around at the events; here are some of the key things we took away:

1. Trust your participants

Everyone agreed that it is important we trust young people to inform and influence how the creative activities and programmes they engage with are run.  Young people should have ownership of the projects they are a part of; we should believe in their ability to take control, and support them to do so.

At the New Vic Theatre event, the quote of the day came from Karl Greenwood, of Stoke-on-Trent’s Appetite programme, who said he believed that “the arts have transformative powers”.

Trusting your young participants contributes to this power.

2. Share your knowledge and ideas

The delegates at the event came from different sectors including arts, youth services and education.  Such meetings are rare and feedback from the events is testament to their usefulness:

“I enjoyed learning about the different organisations and the work that they do”

“The group discussions were very useful – Lots of good ideas were shared”

“It was good to meet up with artists and people from different sectors”

Events like these, and continued networking, allow organisations to share good practice, knowledge and ideas, and everyone’s work benefits.

3. A good system = good results

The Arts Council’s Creative Partnerships programme came to an end in 2011.  It made links between schools, artists and creative organisation.

The attendees at our events recommended the development of a new mechanism to build relationships between organisation, practitioners and schools in Staffordshire: a system that goes beyond the reach of the Creative Partnerships programme, encourages communication and allows for the development of opportunities in the region.

City Arts is producing a number of case studies with organisations in the area that will be available on the Arts Connect West Midlands website. They will raise the profile of organisations and projects taking place in the area and exemplify good models of practice for creative work with children and young people.

Thanks to Jill Rezzano from the New Vic Theatre, Karl Greenwood from Appetite, Trevelyan Wright from B Arts, Lyndi Smith from the Storysmiths, Deborah Rogers from the Cultural Sisters, Rob Elkington & Francis Ranford from Arts Connect West Midlands, Laura Hastilow from Tamworth Borough Council, April Lewis Consultancy, Tim Sharp & Chris Watt from Make Some Noise, Simon Quinn from Fired Up Theatre and Jessica Aspley & Sue Ward from Shoebox Theatre for sharing their expertise at the events.