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January 2015

SALLY
FORT

CHILDREN & YOUNG PEOPLE’S ARTS
PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE: FOR
RURAL AND OTHER AREAS
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CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION: CHILDREN & Young People’s Arts participation in Practice ................................................... 2

CASE STUDIES .................................................................................................................................................... 3
1.

Ballads of the Beasts of Bowland, Blaize ............................................................................................... 3

2.

Engaging Young People, Oriel Mostyn .................................................................................................. 4

3.

Bridging the Solent ................................................................................................................................ 5

4. The Silent Voices Project, Towner Art Gallery, Charlie’s YMCA East Sussex County Council &
Rhythmix ........................................................................................................................................................ 6
5.

Handmade Parade ................................................................................................................................. 9

6.

A2B, Brewery Arts Young Carers Project ............................................................................................. 10

7.

Connect Re:Sound, North Yorkshire Music Action Zone ..................................................................... 15

8.

The Story Engine, The Ministry of Stories http://artsdigitalrnd.org.uk/projects/ministry-of-stories/ 16

9.

Young People’s Micro-Commissions, Cornerhouse............................................................................. 17

10.

12 Miles from Nowhere, Action Transport...................................................................................... 19

11.

Shoot Out, Rural Media ................................................................................................................... 20

12.

Young Promoters ............................................................................................................................. 23

13.

Young Professional Development, Cornerhouse / Winchester Theatre ......................................... 25

14.

Work Based Learning ....................................................................................................................... 27

GUIDANCE........................................................................................................................................................ 31
1.

Consultation: Include children and young people in any developments ............................................ 31

2.

Strategic thinking ................................................................................................................................. 31

3.

Practicalities......................................................................................................................................... 32

4.

Working with schools .......................................................................................................................... 33

5.

Digital opportunities ............................................................................................................................ 34

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS.................................................................................................................................... 35

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INTRODUCTION: CHILDREN & YOUNG PEOPLE’S ARTS PARTICIPATION IN PRACTICE
“Opportunities are few and far between, especially in a rural area. Arts and Culture is usually top of the list
when it comes to cutbacks and this is so apparent when you meet young people for the first time.
Sometimes their level of experience of the arts is so low that their aspirations and self-belief stop them from
participating; this will only change if they are given more and more opportunities to be creative”
Nathan Williams, Rural Media Company.
There are any numbers of ways to work with children and young people through the arts such as…













In early years settings, schools and colleges or with universities
In alternative education such as pupil referral units or hospital schools
With youth services such as youth offending teams, support groups for young carers, sexuality
groups, health and wellbeing groups
With other agencies and sectors such as environmental organisations, youth charities, skills
organisations, friends groups (eg friends of parks), religious / faith groups
In formal venues like schools, colleges, galleries, theatres, museums, heritage sites, churches
In informal spaces such as parks, forests, trails, community centres, activity barns, scout huts, camp
sites, town squares / pedestrianized areas, empty shops, shopping centres, supermarkets, canal
paths and mooring areas
Focussing on creative expression and ability: the skills and practices of an artform
Focussing on issues and themes: using the arts as a tool / vehicle
Focussing on one artform or a multi-arts form experience
Developing backstage / producer / curator / programmer / promoter / administrator based activity
In one-off sessions or a series of workshops
One-off projects or ongoing programmes comprising a range of workshops / projects / participation
As audiences, participants and / or collaborators – creatively, developmentally or administratively
As trainees / interns / advocates / volunteers and as advisory groups, panels and / or young critics
Individually and in partnerships

And many more. It isn’t possible to provide every kind of example. Below are a range of case studies
illustrating some possibilities for participation; predominantly with young people, and mostly in their own
time rather than school time as this is the area many organisations struggle with. Some examples also
include families and schools. The list prioritises arts activity rather than heritage at this time, given the early
members of the Shropshire Consortium for whom the resource was originally created.
Each example describes the project and is accompanied by ‘transferable learning’ explaining why the
project is included such as elements of good practice, why the project is relevant in a rural context, or
considerations to help different organisations make appropriate choices about where and how to focus
work with young people. Some examples may seem very familiar or totally alien, traditional or worlds
away. Look at the ingredients of each and find the learning to think about in your own context. Every
project with young people is different and these are not models to replicate, but a menu of inspiration to
help organisations create something appropriate and bespoke to their own situation.

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EXAMPLES OF PROJECTS AND PROGRAMMES
1.

Ballads of the Beasts of Bowland, Blaize

http://blaize.uk.net/ballads-of-the-beasts-of-bowland-furry-folk-with-strange-tales/
Wanted! Fifty Beasts of Bowland! Feeling creative, bored
or a little adventurous? Can you get to Newton in
Bowland? We are seeking fifty beasts to take part in our
outdoor show, the Ballads of the Beasts of Bowland. If
you want to sing, dance, act or make props or just join in
the fun. Workshops start on Sunday 10th August for a
week and are free. All ages are welcome and the
sessions are run by professional theatre company, Blaize. The shows will be on 15 and 16 August.
“In August 2014 we spent a week working with lovely folk devising, scripting and writing songs for a piece
we performed in Gisburn Forest. It was a great exercise in storytelling and we took the audience on a
journey with Boy who had inadvertently fallen through a portal which only opened every 50 years and
which took him to an enchanted forest where the animals could talk! We met Badger, the Wolves, the
Crows, Mr Frog and Bear and were enchanted by the Spirit of the Forest and her helpers the Wood Sprites.
Once Boy had collected all five tokens from the animals he could go back through the portal and return
home for tea! What fun we had! We wrote script and songs and created a magical world of adventure all
from nothing – in five days. Local artist Sarah Yates joined us for part of the time and made some fantastic
sketches of the rehearsals. People from the age of seven to sixty three, some of whom had never met each
other and never taken part in anything like this before found themselves performing for the first time with
confidence and gusto! We have already been given ideas by the participants for next year’s adventure!”

TRANSFERABLE LEARNING: Feedback on the project from the organisers: Participants in rural areas tend to be
12 and under, or over 40. Transport issues means parents as taxis is the most common means of travel. Teens
lack a place of their own and privacy so tend not to congregate in arts activities as this means hanging out with
and relying on parents. Working with very isolated ‘communities’ usually means one or two families or a
cluster gathered around a farm or area of farming. Immersing yourself as practitioners in the area for intensive
bursts is effective and likely to engage up to 100% of those populations, however the numbers of participation
are small, even when percentages are high. Short intensive immersion brings successful engagement and a
willingness to try new things which is much harder for ongoing regular activities such as a weekly workshop,
where numbers fluctuate and drop off as young people do not commit to regular activity and have more
flexible, spontaneous lifestyles.
Including / appealing to grandparents can be vital too, partly because of the family dynamics in rural areas
where grandparents are often still connected to and involved in children and young people’s lives and care;
partly as good practice for building intergenerational relationships where younger and older people can
understand one another better and help sustain rural communities.
This project follows their tried and tested model of an intensive burst of high impact activity, underpinned by
free / low cost workshops open to all. Participatory work is scaffolded (led and structured) by professionals
who build relationships. They also listen to input and ideas and bring these back as a starting point the
following year.

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2.

Engaging Young People, Oriel Mostyn

http://www.engage.org/wbq.aspx
Oriel Mostyn Gallery in N. Wales traditionally
struggled to attract schools to a particular strategic
scheme. They created an action research project to
find out how they could change this and rather than
work with a school groups as participants to an offthe-shelf activity, they identified a teacher they had
worked with previously, who selected a group of
pupils who would become advisory experts.
“The project focused on two exhibitions: landscape
photographs by Tom Woods and Return Journey,
which looked at artists' responses to returning to
their place of upbringing. Both exhibitions were
about memories of places, and the freelance arts consultant practitioner facilitating the project started
with two memory activities – one based on remembered smells and the other on the memories evoked by
a party bag full of sweets – before going on to a visualisation exercise to evoke students' own personal
memories of a place they could no longer visit. In the gallery they were asked to select an image which
reflected their memory, and finally to identify links between this activity and the Core elements of the
qualifications they were working towards.
There had been some preparation with students to get them to start thinking about memory; nevertheless
their expectations were that they would be looking at works of art. They understood that they would be
contributing to the research, effectively acting as 'expert witnesses'.
The organisational learning from the project was:
- To open up communication with key decision makers at the outset
- The importance of timing, so that teachers receive information when they are in a planning phase,
normally during the summer term for any activity due to take place in the autumn term or during the
following academic year
- To organise an event for teachers when a new exhibition opens
- To be aware that school / curriculum coordinators will not necessarily have an arts background, so that
extra effort may be needed to enrol them into the proposed activity
- That students are very open to new ideas, and that these ideas are often found in galleries where artists
with new ideas have exhibitions.”

TRANSFERABLE LEARNING

This was an organisation struggling to attract participants – in this instance, school groups. As a
result they were forced into looking at things afresh, involving new people, putting expectations
and assumptions behind them, and opening up the floor to the people they wanted to engage. In
a switch of roles, the participants became the advisors; the organisation became the learners.
This is a great way to make progress in a blocked area.
Using a range of senses unlocked the creativity of and connection with the young people.
Participation is much more effective when all the senses are switched on, since people all have
different sensory preferences. Particularly in the visual arts it can be easy to focus almost on
entirely on the visual and overlook the need for young people to move around, work
collaboratively, and ignite other parts their creativity in this way.
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3.

Bridging the Solent

https://bridgingthesolent.wordpress.com/
“Working with hard to reach young people, this 10 month partnership project took the form of an ‘art
relay’. It begun on the Isle of White in March 2014, with Switch-Up, where young people converted the Isle
of Wight ‘community cart’ into a travelling exhibition
space called C>RT, while at Word-Up, poet, musician
and film-maker Ricky Tart worked with other young
people to create their own rap videos. It then
travelled to Portsmouth in June, Southampton in
Transferable Learning:
August and returned to Isle of White in November
A resourceful, flexible programme playing on
2014.
the strengths and differences of all the
partners.
Projects
A multi-art form menu of activities
1. Impress: Young people from No Limits and The
enables people with different interests to get
Fairbridge Foundation worked with performance
involved, and for people to broaden their
artistic experiences.
poet Steve Tasane and print-makers Red Hot Press to
Different sizes and types of venues
produce words on posters and postcards to add to the
and spaces were taken account of.
travelling art C>ART.
The central vehicle of ‘the cart’ provided
a
spectacle
which encouraged people to be
2. Sculpt>Tour: The cart and films took the ferry to
curious and get involved. It was also a useful
Portsmouth where the work was installed in Aspex,
focal point which could be used in indoor /
and the Sculpt>Tour part of the project took place
outdoor / professional / community spaces;
with artists Jo Willoughby and Letty Clarke working
acting as a portable gallery and interactive in
with youth groups creating photographs and
its own right.
sculptures to add to the exhibition.

3. Switch Up: Creative collective Eccleston George
worked with young people on the Isle of Wight to
design and build a bespoke vehicle to house,
transport and display a range of artworks from
the Bridging the Solent travelling exhibition.
4. Word Up: A multimedia project for young people
exploring music, digital arts, rap, beatboxing, lyric
writing and more.
In, August the C>ART arrived at Guildhall Square in
Southampton from where it paraded through the city
to XwwX Gallery for the work from Portsmouth and
Isle of Wight to be welcomed and installed.
Over the next 3 months the exhibition was added to
with the work created in Southampton before being
ferried back to Isle of Wight on the 1st November to
become an exhibition in The Curve Gallery at Quay
Arts, Newport.”

Using arts as the medium which could
respond to different content / themes /
issues according to space and place enabled
a wide range of communities to be
connected with, from playful young families,
to reflective teenage boys with complicated
lives.
Printmaking and spoken word was an
effective way to engage with teenage boys in
this context, whose written language skills
were generally lower than average. This may
or may not be true / appropriate in other
rural areas.
Sense of place was a strong but subtle
undercurrent to the programme, based on
locations and expression / sense of self
enabled through the activities.
A blog of the project documented the
processes and activities well, leaving a lasting
legacy which can be easily shared (it could be
improved with more critical reflection and
lessons learned, to help others and to return
to for future planning, but as a description of
the project it is vibrantly effective).

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4.
The Silent Voices Project, Towner Art Gallery, Charlie’s YMCA East Sussex County
Council & Rhythmix
http://www.rhythmixsilentvoices.blogspot.co.uk
Case Study taken from: Perspectives: A Toolkit for Working with hard to Reach Young People in Cultural
Settings - http://www.townereastbourne.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Final-Toolkit-PDF-Version1.pdf
“Rhythmix identified young people often felt disconnected, hidden or rejected from the
community within which they live and how they would like more opportunities to interact with their
environment, challenge preconceptions about young people and show their communities the issues they
face each day. This is also frequently reflected in the lyrics that they write within workshops. Rhythmix
started to question how something more physical or place-based could be developed and this led to
conversations about sound art and installation work.
In 2012, Rhythmix worked with Towner Contemporary Art Gallery, East Sussex County Council, Charlie’s
YMCA, and East Sussex Music Service to develop the pilot project ‘Silent Voices’; a sound art installation,
which was based upon the theme of ‘Contested Space, Territory and Displacement’.
This would be a new way of working for Rhythmix and was developed in partnerships with sound artists
and Towner Art Gallery, from a visual art perspective, to support the areas they wanted to explore.
The name of the project ‘Silent Voices’ came from the reflection on what the young people were saying and
the specific theme of Contested Territory, Space and Displacement was developed with Towner in
connection to their Art Fund International theme of Edges.
The partnership with Towner also led to which group of young people the pilot project would engage with.
Towner already had a working relationship with Charlie’s YMCA, who support young people who are
homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. As Towner had already developed a strong relationship with
Charlie’s, it was decided they would be the group to work with for the pilot. Working with young homeless
people was a new target group for Rhythmix. Whilst projects had been delivered where homeless young
people were part of the participant group this would be the first time that they were specifically working
with this client group.
Funded through Arts Council England, the aim of this project was to create a more extensive partnership
across cultural organisations and local services and to provide the opportunity for young people to explore
new ways of engaging with music and their communities. Silent Voices identified local needs, and created
the opportunity for these partners to work together to develop and broaden working relationships. Silent
Voices facilitated a series of weekly music workshop sessions at Charlie’s YMCA, which culminated in
an exhibition of a final installation at the Towner Art Gallery and in spaces in the local area. The aims of the
project were:
 To seek greater artistic excellence in work produced with and by young people
 To develop cross art form working with young people at Rhythmix
 To support practitioners’ artistic development
 To explore and map the artists’ collaborative process with each other and the young people
 To explore the concepts of Contested Territory, Space and Displacement
 To evaluate the pilot using an iterative approach throughout
 To deliver a sound art project for young people in challenging circumstances in East Sussex
 To broaden the remit of Rhythmix work and support the organisations development

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The theme of Contested Space, Territory and
Displacement was reflected in the relationships
within the YMCA space, with young people feeling
defensive of new, unknown people coming into
their environment and the social displacement of
the young people themselves. It was through
working together and redefining the space, and
the location of the final installations that gave
participants the motivation to engage in Silent
Voices. The project achieved this by creating an
opportunity for young people to participate in
Silent Voices outside of their usual attendance at
Charlie’s in drop-in sessions.
How did the project get young people involved?
Young people were recruited to the Silent Voices project through existing links with Charlie’s YMCA in
Eastbourne. Two taster sessions were run prior to starting the project, which took place during the regular
drop-in sessions at the YMCA. Interest in the project grew amongst those taking part, primarily due to
the encouragement and support from their YMCA support worker. Charlie’s YMCA is a place where the
participants felt a sense of ownership, and the project regarded this as an environment that was safe for
young people to explore, and create new projects.
What were the main challenges and what did the project learn from this?
The main challenges within the Silent Voices project were the regular attendance of young people,
familiarity of staff, and making links with young people’s music making and the Silent Voices project aim: to
compose a sound art installation.
Silent Voices worked to overcome these challenges by being flexible and developing workshop content
around the interests of the young people who were regularly engaging with the project, to encourage
sustained interest and attendance. The project also worked to respond to issues of staff continuity by
trying to ensure outreach staff were present at as many sessions as possible. The young people were taken
on a day trip to London to see sound and art installation work, which helped to overcome many of these
challenges – the concept of ‘installation’ was made real to them. The day trip was integral to the success
and some of the transferable and non-musical outcomes for the participants who attended, helping to
develop relationships within the group and with the project manager.
Finally, to develop links between young people’s participation in the workshops and the finished project,
Silent Voices ensured that the final installations were in spaces that were accessible for the young people
involved.
What recommendations can this project make to inform good practice?
The Silent Voices project found a number of aspects successful, including:
 the opportunity for young people to explore their existing musical skills, and work with professional
musicians to help them further extend and develop creatively;
 facilitating the workshop sessions in Charlie’s YMCA was a successful, as it was a safe and familiar
environment for the young people involved;
 young people had the opportunity to access Charlie’s YMCA outside of the usual drop-in sessions. This
gave the participants an opportunity to ‘hang out’ and be creative without any other distractions or
time pressures. This contributed to some young people feeling more relaxed and able to create music
on their own terms.
 Young people’s artistic ideas were nurtured, developed and celebrated. Their installations were well
received by the general public and in total, the number of audience members exceeded original
estimates. The excellent quality of the installation was universally recognised and commented upon by
partners, visitors, artists and participants.
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A number of factors emerged from the project, which Silent Voices learned from, and recommended
for future working, such as:
o involving young people in the planning and development of the project
o giving young people an opportunity to explore a wider range of art forms before
undertaking the project
o incorporating more familiar aspects of the YMCA environment into each workshop session,
to help young people feel more comfortable in engaging with the project.

Conclusion
The Silent Voices project has had a wide ranging impact on its partners, as it enabled the individual cultural
partners to further explore the ways in which they undertake partnership working, and the types of cultural
offers they develop for young people in their organisations.”

Transferable Learning: In addition to the above reflections…
It is useful in thinking about how new collaborations between different artforms
partners can happen.
Themes of isolation and misconception are common in young people wherever they
are. In rural areas this is true though perhaps for different reasons to more urban places.
The theme of contested space and displacement is interesting in a rural context, where
young people often have no space of their own, no place to be collectively private and
grow as communities in their own right.
It’s useful to note that much of this project was innovative for those involved but for
that reason they chose to work with a youth partner they had worked with before. In
this way they could limit the number of new variables so as to balance the volume of
challenge and risk they undertook, with some ‘safety net’ for the quality of the
experience and partnerships.
The project was built on identified needs, created in partnership with a local youth
agency. This is a great step towards creating meaningful activity and stands a stronger
chance of recruiting and retaining young people successfully.
Working with young people on their own ‘turf’ was also a vital ingredient for the
success of the project as it enabled the team to engage young men in something that
would otherwise be too unfamiliar for them to risk trying.
Having taster sessions enabled the young men to have a go with nothing to lose. This
is a useful recruitment activity and can attract participants who would otherwise feel
‘it’s not for me’ meaning a larger pool of participants becomes available, and are more
likely to commit to the project by coming to it with some understanding of what it
involves.
Taking the young men to visit different art installations helped make some
challenging abstract concepts tangible. This is a useful way to overcome cultural barriers.

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5.

Handmade Parade

http://handmadeparade.co.uk/

“From our base in Calderdale, West Yorkshire,
England, we connect professional carnival
artists, giant puppet makers, street bands and
performers with communities to create
stunning events.
The Hebden Bridge Handmade Parade is an
annual celebration of funkiness, the art of the
handmade and is just sheer fun! The magic
happens in three weeks of workshops, open to
anyone who wants to make costumes,
carryable art or help create giant puppets.
With an ace team of local professional carnival
artists, volunteers, guest artists (sometimes
from around the world!) and some killer street
bands, we create just the occasion for up
to 1000 people to dance down the streets of
Hebden Bridge, watched by thousands.
Seriously, you don’t want to miss this.
Workshops: Everyone is welcome and all the
materials are provided, along with as much or
as little instruction as you need.”

Transferable Learning:
Parades vary but are based on a model of orchestrating a major spectacle in the host town / village.
A series of c4-5 workshops is held in the run up to the parade, in which people can make costumes,
props, masks and / or lanterns.
The events and workshops are predominantly aimed at and attended by families but open to anyone.
Early teens tend to get involved too, and older people.
The parade through the town is the culmination of the workshops and is structured and organised by
the professionals who also punctuate the parade at strategic places (i.e. front / end, and interspersed
throughout the parade to lead different groupings).
Workshops are well planned to accommodate different ages and abilities. Participants can be
completely hand held or can take total ownership of their work. A range of materials and ideas are
available for inspiration.
They are a small company but expand by using freelance workshop artists as required.
Participation is in short sharp bursts once a year, the company immerse themselves in the
community during that time.
and the culmination event is well planned to be a true spectacular.
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6.

A2B, Brewery Arts Young Carers Project

Case Study excerpt from Youth arts Transforms Lives http://www.artswork.org.uk/resource/34/
The Brewery Arts Centre delivers a diverse programme of activity across drama, dance, comedy, music,
visual arts, literature and film; through a 260 seat theatre, 400 capacity music/ comedy venue, 60 seat
studio, gallery and twin cinema; on site and through outreach. Established in 2003, Brewery Youth Arts
(BYA) is the Brewery's in-house cultural learning department for young people from early years to
adulthood. Covering drama, dance, music and visual arts, the programme involves regular classes,
workshops, special projects, and a range of performance and exhibition opportunities. Over the last few
years, BYA has gained wide and invaluable experience of delivering a range of `targeted` programmes
including for groups of young carers.
From A2B is a two year partnership project between ourselves, Brewery Youth Arts, South Lakeland Young
Carers and Gem Arts based in Gateshead, and involves a group of young carers from South Lakeland aged
8-16 but the majority of participants are 12-16. We are now reaching the end of Year 1 and are planning
the activity for Year 2. Members of Brewery Youth Arts, alongside members of SLYC, held a full consultation
process with groups of Young Carers from across South Lakeland. The purpose of the research was to find
out what arts forms and cultural activity they would particularly like to learn about and participate in, given
a free choice. From the results of the research, four cultural activities emerged as clear favourites. These
were 'Street Dance, Graffiti Art, Animation and Music Rap/Hip-Hop'. The aims of the project are:
• To provide opportunities for personal development using the arts as a methodology
• To challenge stereotypes and assumptions of Asian arts
• To raise aspirations
• To develop cultural awareness
• To enable young carers to engage in social activities
• To learn new skills
There are several elements to the project including workshops in specific art forms, the chance to devise
and create a performance, to participate in a residential experience and to assist in developing and
delivering an Asian Arts Festival in July 2011.
Project Purpose: We had already delivered a project with young carers that gave the participants taster
sessions in art, dance, drama and music. This project was a natural progression to introduce the arts as a
tool for change and personal, social and skills development, enabling us to develop further our relationship
with South Lakeland Young Carers and also to initiate a new partnership with Gem Arts. During the
consultation process the choices made by the young people were interesting in that they showed a strong
fascination with multi-cultural, mainly urban, art forms. Rural communities because of their isolated nature
tend to be monocultures. It is therefore very difficult for young people to enjoy the cultural diversity of
their urban counterparts, especially Black and Asian culture, and virtually impossible if they are young
carers tied to looking after a dependent family member. The four activities chosen we decided to take
forward, but from an Asian perspective through the involvement of Gateshead based Gem Arts.
Transforming Lives: At the moment the project has completed year 1 and has had an amazing impact on
the lives of the participants. This project works on several levels and for all young people involves the
personal, social and skills development of the participants.

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Personal: All young people have increased their confidence
and self-esteem as an outcome of year 1. As a
consequence of their personal situations many young
carers lack confidence and struggle with identity issues.
Some of the younger participants had not been involved in
such an intensive project as this and hadn't had the
opportunity to explore their own issues through the arts. In
fact some have had extremely limited access to the arts.
For the older participants this project has been aspirational
enabling them to develop their leadership skills through
being involved on a steering group that has taken
ownership of the project. They are involved at all levels of
decision making in regards to shaping and influencing the
project. Young carers often lead chaotic and disjointed
lives making effective and continuous engagement difficult. The steering group members are some of the
most committed and motivated that I have worked with. They are determined that South Lakeland will
produce a high quality Asian arts event and have the determination to see it through.
Social: As previously stated above the rural community of South Lakeland is mono cultural and therefore
the opportunity for young people to understand others can be very limited. To ensure that all young people
in this area have a healthy respect and understanding for their own and other cultures it is important that
all youth work and youth arts providers are constantly seeking experiences that will challenge assumptions
and perceptions and help raise awareness and promote tolerance. This project has helped play a huge role
in this. Having a longer term view of this project has definitely benefited all participants - artists and young
people. They have been able to develop a relationship with each other. This was very evident during the
recent residential to Newcastle when the young people asked for one of the artists to accompany them on
this trip and were able to spend leisure time as well as workshop and project development time with him.
This gave real added value to the project. In addition working as partners with Gem Arts ensures that we
are being rigorous in our approach and challenging ourselves as an organisation and ensuring that we are
constantly evaluating our outcomes.
Skills: Recruiting the right artists to engage with the young people was crucial to this. They needed to be
inspiring, high quality and experienced. They needed to be able to communicate, to be open and invite the
young people to understand their perspective. The young people were involved in helping to decide who
these artists were. In April the young people had two days of taster workshops. In July they actually put
together a short performance piece that was all their own work. This included giant graffiti boards as a
backdrop, a soundscape of vocal and instrumental work all of which provided the context for a stunning
dance piece on the theme Creation/Destruction based on South Asian myths and legends.
Wider Impact: This project has had a huge impact on the arts infrastructure of both the Brewery Arts
Centre and Gem Arts. The Development Officers at the Brewery have had the opportunity to learn new
skills and to be influenced by new ways of working. The Brewery has always offered a diverse programme
and constantly seeks to provide opportunities for personal growth through both the main artistic
programme and through our creative learning and participation programme. This project is key to the
development of our Cultural Connections development strategy. At Gem Arts through the partnership with
young carers they have developed their reach across borders, have raised the profile of Asian arts in
Cumbria and have increased their offer to young people.
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The artists have benefited from this project through developing their skills in work with young people 'at
risk'; having the opportunity to collaborate with other Asian artists; working in an arts environment
previously unknown to them and through presenting a challenging, educational and inspiring workshop
programme that is engaging and one that they have investment in and that they feel passionate about.
The impact of this project on others after year two will be significantly greater as this will involve many
more members of the community.
The Artforms: We have worked with four artists over three art forms:
In visual arts we worked with Sumit Sarkar. Sumit is a north west based visual artist, whose artwork takes
the form of digital and canvas paintings, digital sculpture, 3D animation and work inspired by graffiti. The
content of his personal work ranges from the fantastical characters of Sumit's KrikSix world, to his modern
interpretation of the Hindu gods, Ananta, through to his environmental sculptural graffiti work, Kerst.
In dance we worked with Sonia Sabri Dance Company. This dynamic company, based in Birmingham, has
established an international reputation for presenting Kathak dance in a contemporary context. The
company creates work relevant to modern audiences, that is inspired by Indian and British culture, and the
rich possibilities that arise when they meet.
In music we worked with Tigerstyle, DJing Sikh brothers from Glasgow who have worked with Ms
Dynamite, Busta Rhymes, Eminem and 50 Cent. They have remixed for other mainstream acts such as Lisa
Maffia (Independiente), Lamya (J Records),and Raghav (A&R). Tigerstyle ft Kanwar “Son of a Sardar (part 1)”
was the first Sikh Hip Hop track to be play listed in the A list on the BBC Asian Network. The success of
Tigerstyle has taken them touring all over the world sharing stages with the likes of Lily Allen, Talvin Singh,
Nitin Sawhney, The Dub Pistols and Fun-Da-Mental.
Overall Skill Development: As an ongoing project the outcomes are continually being monitored and
evaluated led by the overall aim of the personal, social and skills development for each young person. The
original outcomes are as follows:
• Gain greater self-esteem and self-confidence
• Develop new skills in a cultural activity that interests them
• Acquire new leadership and team-building skills
• Have the opportunity to experience a new culture
• Be introduced to urban orientated arts
• Develop new life skills
All of these outcomes are using the arts as a methodology to achieve success, raise aspirations and
ultimately improve life chances.
Measuring Project Outcomes: Monitoring and evaluation of this project is intrinsic to its success. It is
ongoing and rigorous with the following either developed or in place: artist diaries; vox pops and the
creation of a DVD; a dedicated secure facebook page for participants; evaluation forms. We have 32 young
carers who have been engaged by this project at varying points, the highest take up of any of the projects
run by SLYC. Workers and participants are very impressed by the quality of the project and the work
produced by the young people.
A few comments from the participants:
“It taught me about different cultures and helped us to understand why they do certain things”
“We met new people and everyone knew a lot about what they were teaching”
“The art tasters taught us that the imagination is limitless”
“The dancing was brilliant and the fact that it was different was a change”
“The dancing made me think about the other types of dancing there are in other cultures”
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Feedback from the residential to Newcastle:
“It taught me how culture can change how you perceive the arts”
“It made me think about the effect different cultures have on me”
“I now know about different kinds of art, different cultures and places; Indian dancing and The Singh Twins”
“Before I thought India was all about slums but now I know they have nice cities and art and things”
“I am glad we are creating a festival about things I enjoy. This taught me about what things go on during a
festival and what we can use in ours”
We created a DVD about year 1 activities which included comments from the young people about how
their attitudes towards Asian arts and culture had changed since the start of the project.
Recruitment of Young People: As this project was in partnership with South Lakeland Young Carers they
recruited the young people. In order to engage the participants consultation took place as outlined above.
We are currently in talks with other youth led organisations who would like to get involved with this
project.
Maintaining Engagement: As this is a long term project the issue of engagement is vital. Also the young
carers only meet monthly and have many other responsibilities which make engagement a particular issue.
We developed a secure Facebook page which can be regularly added to by the young people and the
projects successes and challenges are raised on this. This helps keep the project alive between workshops,
meetings and events. We also have a steering group of young carers who meet monthly to ensure
continuity, commitment and planning. We always discuss levels of engagement and any anecdotal
feedback from participants at these meetings.
Main Challenges: The different professional approaches and disciplines between the arts and youth work
has been difficult. Regular communication between the partners has helped alleviate this as have the
establishing of clear roles and responsibilities for the different organisations. There have also been changes
in South Lakeland Young Carers staff team and they are now facing cuts to their budget. The project will
continue to be supported by SLYC but we may take more direct communication with the participants under
the project management at the Brewery.
Overcoming Challenges: Partnership working
will always be challenging. Maintaining an
open and transparent dialogue and a
relationship built on honesty and respect
helps. It's important to discuss the difficulties
and challenges as they arise. Keeping the
needs of the young people at the centre of the
project is essential.
Funding: Year one and two of this project has
been funded through Lankelly Chase
Foundation and year one through Esmee
Fairbairn Foundation.
Advice to Others: This has been an amazing project so far. It has been inspiring and has been so beneficial
on so many different levels. Crucial to the success of the project have been consultation, planning and
partnership. I would advise anyone wanting to pursue a project like this to research your partner
organisations. The best part of this project has been the development of the partnerships, how they have
been mutually beneficial and how they have now strengthened and we are looking at many future projects.

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Main Challenges for Participants
• Fitting in the project with their role as carers - workshops during Easter and summer and the October half
term residential were scheduled when they could get additional help in the home – overcome by
scheduling of the project
• Travel to the workshops - lots of the young carers live in rural area - overcome by providing costs of
transport
• Chaotic lifestyle means project may not always be a priority and they have to deal with emergencies at
home - overcome by clear communication between SLYC support workers and also establishing the
Facebook page to keep them informed of the project at all times
• Project being led by another organisation (Brewery Arts Centre) who they may only see at the workshops
- overcome by communication
between SLYC and BAC workers and
the regular steering group meetings
which enables the flow of information
Most of the participants are still in full
time education, and struggling to fit in
their responsibilities as carers. They are
all members of South Lakeland Young
Carers and attend their monthly
support groups and take part in
activities. This project is one of those
activities.

Transferable Learning: The project started from
research and consultation to identify needs which
strengthens likelihood of successful recruitment and
ongoing engagement.
Clear objectives helped decision making and
influenced the programme from the partner
organisations’ perspectives.
Layers of participation starting from entry level
taster sessions through to fuller responsibility,
leadership and creative production.
Challenges perceptions of what rural arts
participation can be through street arts and
multicultural activity; it’s important that children and
young people are encouraged to look at a wider
cultural spectrum than is otherwise available to them.
On a big project like this it’s possible to include
young people as contributors to development and
decision making throughout, working not just as
participants but developers, influences and advisers.
Recruiting the artists is key. They must have an
authentic interest in working with young people and
respecting them as individuals.
Working in partnership with youth agencies has
been essential, and spending time building genuine
relationships is vital. You really need them on board
to support young people, not just to help with
recruitment.
The arts team are continually monitoring the
project’s impact on their own ethos and approach
and how it can help develop them in organisational
terms. Everyone is learning together, no-one has a
monopoly on expertise.
Evaluation is embedded across artists and
participants from the outset, as well as the
organisational reflection.

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7.

Connect Re:Sound, North Yorkshire Music Action Zone

http://artsdigitalrnd.org.uk/projects/nymaz/

The Connect:Resound project is a newly funded
project commissioned by NESTA.
“It will test the ability of video-streaming
technologies can provide long-distance/remote
music education for children.
Working with seven primary schools in North
Yorkshire, the project will look to overcome the
significant challenges to service provision due
to rural isolation.
Access to music education opportunities, which requires specialist tuition and associated significant
travelling time and costs are limited and the project will test virtual access to instrument tuition, live
performance and staff
training.”
Detailed updates and
reflections on working with
schools and using technology
are included in the project
blog.

Transferable Learning:
Using technology to connect across distances, reaching into
schools.
Staff training is a feature. Building CPD into any project with
schools is good practice, enabling staff to continue what’s been
started once you need to step back. It’s a responsible exit
strategy.
A note of caution: find out what the capabilities are of staff
and their facilities before planning for a school project.
Confidence, ability and equipment varies greatly and you need to
work with the starting points they’re familiar with rather than
bringing in lots of new equipment for nervous staff!
Conversely, some schools have an i-pad for everyone and
brilliantly technology literate staff.
And wi-fi connection may become an issue, this needs testing
out as soon as this kind of project is conceived.
Teachers usually need quickly understandable concepts to be
able to get on board, though a few are more open to undefined
exploration needed for this level of innovation. Finding the
teachers, and a collective of them in a relatively small
geographical area, is a particular challenge which has slowed the
project down. A balance of innovation and opportunity combined
with more clearly defined parameters and content can help
increase the pool of schools / teachers willing to take part.

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8.

The Story Engine, The Ministry of Stories

http://artsdigitalrnd.org.uk/projects/ministry-of-stories/
This is a newly commissioned project but one which builds on other models of digital participation and
distance mentoring. As such transferable thinking, rather than learning, is provided, highlighting some of
the questions the project team need to be asking themselves…
“The Story Engine will prototype an e-mentoring platform in schools to support and motivate 9 – 13 year
olds in exploring and writing their own stories. Inspired by the Ministry’s successful story-making workshop,
the platform will be a creative space where children discover and build their creative writing confidence,
extend and enhance offline learning. It will offer children inspiration and support to develop and write their
own stories – creating, for example, their own characters, settings, dialogue and plot – and the opportunity
to share these with others; in their school and within the wider Story Engine community. It will test the
potential of allowing participants, as with the real world story-making workshop, to take the lead in setting
their own pace and outcomes. It will also offer remote, individual contact with trained mentors.”
The Ministry of Stories already runs an in-person mentoring programme, with mentor training included.
This programme will build on the successes of that with the aim of reaching out to a higher and more
dispersed pool of young writers.
The project website (above) also includes the team’s thinking and progress so far around working within
the restrictions and possibilities of a Key Stage 3 school environment; the role of mentoring; and what kinds
of learning and engagement
might be involved.

Transferable Thinking:
Provides the structure for remote participation, development
and support through online delivery and mentoring.
The time here needs to be invested in creating a mentoring
structure – when will mentoring take place, how much, does it
need to be in live time or can participants upload and mentors
check / feedback when they can?
How will participants be recruited and how much time will it
take to find the young people? How will they be found /
promoted to, who will do this?
What system will you use for mentoring, and do you have the
software / packages and know-how to do this?
Will you only mentor on the content or is the mentor
responsible for encouraging the young people to stay involved.
Will you mentor people individually or in groups?
Do you need to oversubscribe to start with, knowing it’s likely
some will fall away as the process continues?

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9.

Young People’s Micro-Commissions, Cornerhouse

http://www.cornerhouse.org/livewire/livewire-events/young-peoples-micro-commissions
Cornerhouse (now HOME) in Manchester runs
the Livewire programme of digital arts for 14-19
year olds. Separately, Cornerhouse also run a
micro-commissions programme offering
experimental grants for £500 to individual artists
/ creative practitioners to test out ideas.
“As developing young people’s talents are key to
Cornerhouse’s work, the Micro Commissions
programme developed an off-shoot commission
scheme that would suit the younger age group.
This application process was focussed more
towards young people who wanted to create
their own film, artwork, digital or theatre
project, and an increased amount of project support was to be provided from Cornerhouse staff.
In early 2014, we offered teenagers based in Greater Manchester the opportunity to apply for one of four
£500 commissions to fund their film, art, theatre or digital project. The scheme, open to 14-19 year olds
gave young people the chance to manage their own arts project with the support of internal Cornerhouse
staff and external industry professionals.
51 young people submitted fantastic applications which made for a tough selection process. The successful
four projects were developed over five months and the resulting work was showcased in September and
October 2014. Each young person was mentored by a member of the Engagement Team.
Arts Award was also embedded into the project, with the young people documenting and reflecting on
their projects in an Arts Award portfolio, which was then submitted for assessment and accreditation for
the young people. For the future Cornerhouse would like to trail the same programme with harder to reach
young people via local communities / community partners.”
Project – ART, “As Alive, As Uncertain” By Neetu Roy and Ella May Rackham.
The showcase for the Micro Commission for art took place on Saturday 6 Sept 2014 in the Cornerhouse
Annexe. The idea behind the art project came from the £500 that the two young people were given in order
to realise their idea. They decided to focus on what others would do with the same amount of money.
Armed with a couple of questions, a camera and a smile, they asked the willing inhabitants of Manchester
to write their answers down and the result has been captured through photographs, portraits, and
placards. You can read about Ella’s Micro Commissions story so far here.
Project – DIGITAL, “Subterranea Mancunia” By Edward Bennigsen.
The showcase for the Micro Commission Digital project took place on Friday 12 Sept 2014 in the
Cornerhouse Annexe. Subterranea Mancunia is an interactive experience for 2-4 people. Participants
entered The Department and immersed themselves in an alternate Manchester. THE DEPARTMENT FOR
SUBTERRANEAN STUDIES invited participants to tour its offices and archives, recently opened to the public.
They saw once-secret apparatus, perused mysterious documents, and tested their wits against intriguing
puzzles. The curious wonders and dangers that lie below the surface were exposed to the light of day.
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Project – FILM, “The Minotaur” By Jess Mone
The showcase for the Micro Commission Film project took place on Sunday 5 October 2014 in the
Cornerhouse Annexe. The Minotaur is a short thriller/drama based on a short story that Jess wrote. The
film features Delilah, a young girl trapped in a maze, a maze that is endlessly narrow and dark. She isn’t
aware of time passing, she never needs to eat or sleep. But she is running. There is something else inside
the maze with her, something she only catches glimpses of. But it is difficult to forget those raging, red
eyes. And so she runs endlessly, running from a creature she knows nothing of, stopping now and then
when she believes she is safe. But she is never safe. The Minotaur sees all.
You can read about Jess’ Micro Commissions story here.
Project – THEATRE, “One Night Only” By Daniel Doggett
The showcase for the Micro Commission Theatre project took place on Sunday 5 October 2014 in the
Cornerhouse Annexe. One Night Only (written by Daniel Doggett) revolves around the theme of escapism,
with the narrative following two very different men who both happen to be having a really hard time of it.
Over the space of one weekend, the two of them share more with each other than they have with anybody
else in their entire lives. They reveal their most intimate thoughts and secrets. It seems unrealistic that two
strangers would be so open with each other, but that’s the point. After this short time they’ll never see
each other again, so this weekend is just a time to escape the difficulties they’re each facing in their lives.
The performance starred two local actors and was directed by a local director.
An evaluation report is available here
http://www.curiousminds.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Micro-Commissions-Evaluation-Report.pdf

Transferable learning:
Although not rural, this shows a new and different model where
the creative process and vision is passed on to the young people
but with a structure i.e. in terms of the application / selection
process and the reflective element.
Young people are supported with the experience scaffolded.
Small amounts of money can enable positive characteristics such as
vision, ownership, and confidence.
Young people were recruited via visits and flyers to local schools
and colleges, and through Cornerhouse’s website and social media.
In person visits and presentations to schools led to the highest
proportion of applications.
All the participants were clearly able to identify opportunities
for them sustaining the interest they’d developed, both within the
ongoing Cornerhouse young people’s programme, and in other
areas of their live. This element of legacy and sustainable exit
strategies is a really important part of working with young people,
to ensure they feel authentically engaged and don’t leave feeling
lost, alienated or deflated.

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10.

12 Miles from Nowhere, Action Transport

Action Transport say, “We have established a unique processes of making new theatre by putting young
people at the heart of all our work. We explore what theatre and new writing can do in the 21st Century and
the vital and changing roles young people can play in the making of original and significant theatre for our
time. We work with others to platform and promote theatre by and with young people, as well as exceptional
theatre that is made for them.”

Young people in rural Cheshire commented on living 12
miles from nowhere. Action Transport undertook a two
year action research project working with young people
to produce a piece of professional touring theatre which
reached out to similar communities.
“12 Miles From Nowhere, a new play inspired by the
lives, ideas, stories and dreams of people who live in
rural communities across the North West. The
production makes the rolling countryside the backdrop
for what they describe as a “spellbinding drama”.
Set on an isolated farm in the North of England, 12 Miles
From Nowhere tells the story of Emily and Michael, who
feel as if time’s stood still since their mother left. When
an outsider walks onto the farm with a security tag on his
jeans and enough charm to talk the birds down from the
trees, their lives are split wide open. 12 Miles from
Nowhere is a modern myth – an “honest, powerful and
engaging ‘rite of passage’ tale for a modern audience”.
The play is collectively written by 5 writers: Sarah Calver,
Doug Crossley, Freddie Machin, Ben Worth (who all also
comprise the cast) and Kevin Dyer. Before the first draft
was penned, the writers spent weeks talking to young
people across Cheshire about their experience of literally
living “12 miles from nowhere”. These conversations
inspired the final play, which uses real-life experiences to
tell a tale with universal resonance.
Writer and director Kevin Dyer said: “We listened to
stories about what it was like to live in places where the
bus only comes on a Tuesday, but also stories that have
connections with everywhere – how the problems
parents have alter the lives of their children, how we all
need our own space, how we all need loving,
understanding, and to have a laugh.”

Transferable Learning:
An article written by one of the three
professional writers / performers is
available http://writelocalplayglobal.org/articlesint
erviews-database/12-miles-fromnowhere-on-tour-freddie-machin-uk.html
- and talks about the challenges of the
process and the need to be flexible in
order to respond to and work with
different circumstances in each venue /
community.
A colleague explains that working with
young people as collaborators while
presenting the production professionally
was important. It created safe space for
young people to talk about their issues
authentically, knowing it wouldn’t be
them playing them out to local
audiences. They are not exposed, but
there is a shared story between the team
of collaborators.
Also that including professional actors,
marketing and production gave the
young people validity. It told them their
ideas were important, valuable, worth
something.
It also enabled the team to build
audiences as the participants of the
process were then able to watch the
shows, and bring their friends. In rural
areas small numbers can mean young
people are either in the process or the
audience, but can’t do both, and as a
result audience numbers can be very
small. This was a strategic tactic to
ensure audience development as well as
participation could take place.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kq8H3wm1KOI
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11.

Shoot Out, Rural Media

http://www.ruralmedia.co.uk/shoot-out.aspx
Shoot Out was a Big Lottery funded project which gave young people the practical skills and confidence to
make films that support their local communities and express their opinions and creativity.
Through partnerships with schools, youth clubs and voluntary groups Shoot Out provided free filmmaking
training to 13-19 year olds across the rural county of Herefordshire. Young people were then given the
opportunity to make a film about a local charity or group, giving them an insight into their community, new
practical skills and an appetite for volunteering.
Shoot Out also worked with Specialist Organisations across the county to give disadvantaged young people
the chance to share their thoughts, feelings and experiences with others through film. The project also ran
an annual Summer School and provided opportunities for school leavers to gain experience and skills in
filmmaking and participatory media practice through paid trainee placements leading to an Arts
Award accreditation.
Over the three years 700 rurally disadvantaged young people developed technical, critical and
communication skills and improved their confidence through participating in Shoot Out. In total 100 films
have been made by young people, benefiting not only the participants who made them, but also the groups
and organisations they were made for.
The 13-19 year olds have taking advantage of specialist training and guidance in all areas of film making,
from pre-production to post, giving people a broader skillset and experience that is hard to match at
schools and colleges.
One of the best things about the project was that by working with young people over 100 community and
voluntary groups had easy access to new media. The films we made not only taught people a lot more
about what is needed in the community, but also helped each of the groups promote their services and
attract new members.
In total, the collection of Shoot Out films have had over 60,000 viewings. Script writing, camera skills,
directing, communication, confidence and teamwork were just some of the many new skills that people of
all ages developed during the training.
Shoot Out was a learning experience that gave people access to the world of filmmaking – which can be
difficult in a rural county. It allowed people to tell their stories, share their experiences and create new
opportunities…so they weren’t just making films, they were making their future!
More information, films and photographs can be found by clicking through to the Shoot Out website
Video: http://vimeo.com/58196247
Reflections from Nathan Williams, film maker, Rural Media Company
Shoot Out was a three year Big Lottery funded project that empowered young people 13-19 years old to
learn new skills in digital media and engage and connect with their community. I was lucky enough to be a
film mentor for two years of the project and over my time I worked with over 500 young people and helped
produce over 100 short films, all of which were crewed by aspiring young filmmakers in a rural area.
I think that there is a slightly misguided idea that when people hear the term ‘arts in a rural area’ they just
understand it to be a literal description of just where you are and an arts project would consist of people
skipping up and down the countryside shouting “Make sure you focus that camera before you say
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action…ooh look, a cow.” However in reality there are many obstacles that make being connected, being
inspired and being enriched by the arts extremely difficult for young people in rural areas. Mainly, it’s all
down to access which in itself is an umbrella term for transport, online culture, public provision and believe
it or not, increasing rise of new technologies.
Arts activities are rarely on young people’s doorstop and relying on public services when you live anywhere
between 5-30 miles outside of the nearest town can make attendance either poor or brief. It’s quite
common to see a committed young filmmaker miss out on half of the session week after week after week
because they’ll miss their last bus home. Anyone who works in participatory arts knows how vital it is to all
move forward together; when you’re trying to constantly balance between process and product you can’t
help but feel both areas suffer because of a lack of transportation.
A quantitative study into barriers to participation (Spielhofer et al., 2010) concluded that young people in
rural areas are significantly more likely to report transport as a barrier or constraint to participation in
education post-16, than those living in more urban locations. Transport issues, distance and time involved to
travel all rank high in young people’s decision and ability to access training and employment.
Shoot Out allowed our team to work with around 50 young people per week, all of whom were learning new
skills and using digital media to express their views and experiences. It also enabled young people to venture
out into their community and connect with people and groups they would never normally meet. For
example I remember taking students to the Hinton Community Centre to film an eco-family fun day (which
they had never been to before) and joining in the activities as well as making a documentary. Shoot Out was
a unique experience because opportunities of this scale are few and far between, especially in a rural area.
Arts and Culture is usually top of the list when it comes to cutbacks and this is so apparent when you meet
young people for the first time. Sometimes their level of experience of the arts is so low that their
aspirations and self-belief stop them from participating; this will only change if they are given more and
more opportunities to be creative.
At this point I can imagine you saying ‘well, what about the internet, the internet is like oxygen, it’s
everywhere’. True, it is… except in Space and space is something you’re never short on in rural areas. There
are also still large parts of rural England with such slow access to broadband, that it prevents you from
streaming videos or TV, playing games, even playing music! So you don’t have a good opportunity to stay
up to date with your interests, build networks and organise things. And even if you have got access, I have
to ask…so what? What’s the point of having access to everything and not being able to differentiate
between art and trash? Media is so much more immediate and technology is getting cheaper, information is
exponential but without a frame of reference or an understanding of how media can influence global and
social trends then it’s just a tool for tools. It’s not a revelation to say that the internet is making the world
smaller and it only takes one person to influence thousands, if not millions! In rural areas, young people
don’t naturally make that link because they don’t have any experience of it or worse, they do understand
but believe that it doesn’t happen in the countryside.
In this more sparsely populated area, despite all the extra rural barriers, it’s about making sure young
people have a hub for learning about film and making really high quality creative work which will let them
compete alongside their peers in parts of the country where there are a lot more opportunities.
As you can see working on arts projects in rural areas has its difficulties however it also highly rewarding:
you get to meet some truly wonderful young people that are screaming for some sort of creative outlet, a
chance to say ‘This is what I think, this is what I feel’. In a rural area, it’s the freshness of infrequently heard
voices that make film such a powerful medium and I wish I had more hours in my day to shout about it.
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Actually let me take that last part back because only this morning I was asked via tweet (I’m so cool) by a
young filmmaker whether she could approach film festivals with a film she directed through our BFI Film
Academy. Through years of commitment and interest in our media workshops, this young person fought for
a place on our first BFI Academy…and won. She then went on to apply for a two week residential at the
National Film and Television School…and won. Now she wants to take on filmmakers worldwide because
she’s proud of her work.
Through our BFI Film Academy, we’ve successfully taken 15 young people through the silver arts award
process. The focus for the Academy has been improving film literacy, film making knowledge and learning
new skills in practical filmmaking. Through our ‘In to Film’ programme, we are currently working in local
PRU’s and with looked after children to introduce cine-literacy and empower young people through new
media skills in digital storytelling. The Arts Awards are ideal for many arts programmes and practices
because the emphasis is on individual learning
and even though young people may work on
the same project, they have complete
ownership over the work they do.
By the end of 2014 we’ll be looking to take
another 30 plus young people through the Arts
Award process.”

Transferable learning: Partnerships with youth,
community and education organisations helped
recruit the young people.
Different opportunities for different
participants from local training workshops, film
interviews, a summer school and traineeships,
enabled continued engagement and progression.
Wider community benefits occurred by
enabling young people to help others, becoming
volunteers as well as participants.
In rural areas film making helped reduce
isolation and grow community by acting as a
bridge with local community groups.
Young people need to be consulted
about workshops schedules, with factors such as
bus timetables taken into account.
Values like respect, belief and high
quality are a core part of the ethos of the work.
Embedding Arts Award has been a means to
formally acknowledge achievement for young
people with little confidence in themselves or
their creativity. It has been able to value
participants equally despite differing individually
tailored types of involvement.
Introducing young people to a
completely new art form has broadened their
horizons and helped them discover new talent
and ambition.

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12.

Young Promoters

Young promoters is a model of activity in which young people take part in the development and promotion
of touring theatre (or other art forms) in rural areas. There are a variety of schemes and organisations
taking part in young promoter projects. As well as the Action Transport example (Example 9) above other
examples include:
Example 1: Creative Arts East:
http://www.creativeartseast.co.uk/projects/young-promoters
Creative Arts East has been delivering a Young Promoters scheme since 2009. The scheme's core aims are
to provide training in events management to groups of young people, providing them with a practical,
hands on experience to create, organise, manage and host their own live event within their local
communities. We programme a menu of high quality live performance on a yearly basis for the young
people to choose from, ensuring that young people have a voice in this process. The scheme has developed
significantly over the last 5 years, although the core aims of the scheme have remained the same, going
from strength to strength and becoming a core area of work for Creative Arts East.
Currently the scheme is funded by Youth Music, which has meant a move towards specific music events
management and the development of music making and music industry skills. Each group undergoes
training in all aspects of events management, which will enable them to programme a high quality music
event for their local community, and go on to promote and manage this event. The young people have
access to music industry experts that guide them through the process, as well as develop their own music
making skills. All young people also have the opportunity to undertake either their bronze or silver arts
award. Groups are made up of approximately 10 young people aged 13 - 18 and can be run as an after
school club or as part of an organisations portfolio of activity with young people.
Video: Bright Sparks Young Promoters Network for Norfolk & Suffolk
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2ZSc8yF0CE
Example 2: The Novice Detective:
The project is part of the national Young Promoters
network, which spans more than 25 counties and 50 shows,
as part of a strategic partnership between the National Rural
Touring Forum (NRTF) and Contact Theatre Manchester.
http://www.ruralarts.org/on-tour/young-promoters-scheme/
Rural Arts' ON Tour is the Northern Touring Scheme (and NRTF member) which covers North Yorkshire and
the Tees Valley, and operates from Thirsk. Chloe Hampson, who manages Rural Arts ON Tour, said: “Many
of us working in the creative sector are doing so thanks to work experience while still at school, but this is
harder to gain if you live in a rural community. We already tour professional performances across the
county and it’s great to see young people working alongside our volunteers to ensure this comedy reaches
our audiences.”
The Novice Detective is a piece of specially commissioned theatre that mixes comedy, storytelling and
audience interaction. The show begins with a cliffhanger of Sophie’s missing father. With a handful of clues,
she is determined to uncover the truth. Will a pop album dedicated to her, a picture of a man in a red beret
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and her slightly psychic Gran, along with her detective know-how, lead her to her father? The Novice
Detective is suitable for ages 13 and over and the performance is open to the public.
Rural Arts has organised previous projects for young people but this the first focusing on giving them the
chance to gain skills in marketing, front of house and production. They teamed up with Contact Theatre,
Manchester to deliver work experience for young people in promoting a show. The project demonstrates
and gives first-hand experience of the different roles in the art industry. Young people work with someone
in their local area and take responsibility for putting a live event on. Promoters create marketing material,
invite VIPS, decide target audiences, write press releases, create social media campaigns and invent exciting
ways to promote a show. Two groups of young people from Weaverthorpe and Redcar kicked off our very
first Young Promoters groups. They undertook the task to promote Sophie Willan’s show The Novice
Detective in March. Read our blog about The
Redcar Young Promoters success with their
event.
Example 3: Eden Arts – Remote: Rural
Touring Cinema
REMOTE Cinema village committees have
been set up and supported by Eden Arts who
provide all the equipment; screen, projector,
sound system and event dressing. We also
provide transport, technical, marketing and
promotional assistance to help communities
run successful events. Nineteen villages in
Eden are currently signed up to the scheme,
all putting on cinema events with their own
twist. Each village has an organising group
made up of 50% young people. Eden Arts
has received funding from The Big Lottery to
run the scheme and purchase brand new
cinema kit, which will tour the villages of
Eden. Click here to see which Eden villages
are part of REMOTE.
Heather Walker, Project Manager at Eden
Arts said “It has been great to see the
cinema events so well supported by Eden
residents and the events are real social gettogethers. Another key part of the project
was getting young people involved and they
have been playing a key part in the
committees, helping to choose the films,
organise the events and set up the technical
equipment.”

Transferable Learning: Young promoter
projects involve training and support;
balanced with the ability to step back and
genuinely let young people take over. “You
have to let them make their own mistakes and
learn from that.” Bright Sparks
Young Promoters is a flexible model,
applicable to music, film and theatre. It could
also be used with exhibitions and exhibition
events. Young Promoter activity is challenging
and relies on good, reliable equipment and
liaison to understand the facilities available.
High quality programming is at the heart of all
the above projects which is important to
encourage young people’s pride and
commitment; it shows the faith, trust, value
and respect invested in them. Young people
are involved in the selection of the shows, as
well as the front or back of house activity.
Arts Award is often embedded into Young
Promoter projects. Taking responsibility and
planning arts activity becomes an increasingly
important part of Arts Award at Silver and
Gold levels, so it can be an ideal way to
formally recognise the young people’s
achievements.
NB: Arts Alive took part in the Novice

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13.

Young Professional Development, Cornerhouse / Winchester Theatre

Two young people’s professional development programmes which are organisation led:
1. Theatre critic development in Winchester
2. Digital reporter development in Manchester
1. “Theatre Royal Winchester and A Younger Theatre are offering a new strand of workshops for aspiring
theatre critics, from Saturday 21 February to Saturday 4 April.
The aim is to develop participants writing and be published online. A Younger Theatre will offer a strand of
3 monthly workshops here at TRW on how to review Theatre. A Younger Theatre is a platform for emerging
theatre audiences, writers and makers to have their space on theatre and the arts. This will involve Young
Theatre Royal, local writers and students (18-25) Participants who will receive mentoring and support from
the AYT Editorial Team.
The media landscape is changing faster than ever. Young critics now have many more opportunities to
write and be heard than they ever did, but the challenge now is whether they can actually make a
living. The participants will be afforded the opportunity to attend three shows across the South West,
review one and receive feedback. The outputs of these workshops will be increasing audience engagement
and providing the opportunity for young people to learn new skills and construct informed opinions on
Theatre.
The weekend workshops will involve Masterclass in Theatre Criticism/Journalism.
 Saturday 21 February 2-3.30pm Jake Orr (A Younger Theatre)
 Saturday 28 February 2-3.30pm Mark Shenton (The Stage)
 Saturday 7 March 12.30- 2.00pm Lyn Gardner (The Guardian) History Boys at TRW 2.30pm
 Saturday 14 March 2-3.30pm Matt Trueman (Variety)
 Saturday 21 March 2-3.30pm Tim Walker (Former Sunday Telegraph)
 Saturday 28 March 2-3.30pm Jake Orr (A Younger Theatre)
 Saturday 4 April 2-3.30pm Kris Hallet (Whatsonstage)
More information at: www.theatreroyalwinchester.co.uk/young-critics “
2. Digital Reporters Scheme, Cornerhouse
“This unique scheme provides support and training for individuals who want to broaden their skills and
portfolio in digital media to improve their chances to gain employment within the creative industries.
This is the perfect opportunity to develop an all-round multi-platform digital set of skills, a reputable space
to showcase your results and develop a portfolio of work to show employers.
Participants undergo an 8 month training programme which includes:

A series of monthly workshops programmed with the participants covering areas such as
photography, audio, video and writing for the web.
The production of content, based on the events taking place at Cornerhouse. These could range
from interviewing a director to blogging about a preview of a new exhibition. Digital media
produced will be showcased on the Cornerhouse website.

Ben Williams shares his experience of being on our Digital Reporters Scheme…
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I joined the scheme a couple of years ago and it’s been
instrumental in helping me get the break I needed to kickstart my career. Before volunteering I cut the familiar
Transferable Learning: Both programmes focus
on professional level development and
shape of a ‘creative person’ without direction. The
professional support, leadership and
anniversary of my ‘temporary’ desk job was ominously
intervention is a key part of both programmes.
approaching, and checking my personality at reception
Both are aspirational and ambitious with high
each morning for the rest of my life was beginning to look
expectations on participants; both target an
a grim inevitability. I’d finished my degree, and like so
older end of young people c18-25.
This kind of programme is likely to recruit
many, had not followed it up with the same enthusiasm
those with an existing interest, smaller
I’d began with. I still enjoyed art, photography and
numbers than some other programmes, but
writing, but having well and truly fallen out of love with
have a strong likelihood of sustained
design, lacked a direction in which to express myself
participation for those reasons.
professionally.
The Winchester scheme has a cost
attached but can offer bursaries for those who
There are lots of opportunities in the modern workforce
could not afford to take part otherwise.
for skilled creative people, but getting a chance to
Cornerhouse’s programme was free but there
practice your skills professionally is key. Without this it
was a selection process involved. Cornerhouse
seems impossible to defeat the merry-go-round of
also offered an introduction / briefing sessions
needing real experience without there being any jobs in
for the programme so that interested people
could learn more about what it involved, the
which to gain it. The Digital Reporters Scheme was
competitive recruitment process, and the
exactly the opportunity I needed to navigate around the
levels of commitment involved.
carousel and silence the voices in my head saying ‘you’re
This kind of programme will enable only small
wasting your life’.
numbers of participation but with the
likelihood of strong outcomes such as high
On the scheme I attended workshops on photography,
commitment / low drop-out rates; skills and
filming, writing for the web, interview technique, social
subject are learning outcomes, and potentially
media, blogging and pitching. Each of these has been run
direct employment opportunities as a result.
by experts from, amongst others, Creative
Both programmes had specific funding to run
Tourist, Audioboo and Creative Times. I’ve had hands on
them.
Whilst on the one hand finding the
experience with video and photography equipment I
funding was a challenge and the organisers had
might previously not been able to look at through pure
to develop their own framework and
envy. Instead I’ve learnt how to use them properly with
programme without necessarily knowing how
tutorials from Cornerhouse’s own technical and creative
successful it would be, they had the freedom to
team. For me, the chance to talk to professionals about
create and adapt the schemes in their own
way. More recently, funding for internships
photography and ask the simple questions has been
and trainees has become available which
invaluable. Most important to me was the chance to get
targets similar young people, though usually
out there and put these skills into practice. I was lucky
just one at a time, and with a shared
enough to interview John Garden about synthesised
framework underpinning all the placements –
dinosaurs, ask Erik Alexander Wilson what it was like to
so giving greater guidance to the host
organisations, but less flexibility and freedom.
shoot Tyrannosaur and watch Barbara Nice encourage
the public to feather-dust a quarter million pound art
installation. It was a lot of fun, but more importantly is
given me a chance to showcase my skills on subjects I’m
passionate about and given me a massive confidence boost.
Being a digital reporter isn’t a guaranteed life-changing experience, but it’s an opportunity to get you on the
right path. I applied my experience as a digital reporter to voluntary projects away from the scheme, and in
a year my CV went from grey administrative monolith to something I’m actually quite proud of. Having been
for a couple of interviews I finally got my break and will be working in the arts from September. I’m looking
forward to welcoming my personality back to the workplace.
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14.

Work Based Learning

Three formal models for work based learning for young people currently on offer around the country are
those of internships, apprenticeships and traineeships. Many of these are funded, supported and
strategically commissioned at a national level via Creative & Cultural Skills (CC Skills) as part of their
Creative Employment Programme http://ccskills.org.uk/supporters/funding/details/the-creativeemployment-programme, a £15m fund to support the creation of traineeships, formal apprenticeship and
paid internship opportunities in England for young unemployed people aged 16-24 wishing to pursue a
career in the arts and cultural sector. Young people aged 16-24 from all backgrounds, from graduates to
those with few or no qualifications, will have the chance to access on-the-job training and experience to
build the skills that employers want.
Curious Minds (NW Bridge organisation) describes these as:
Internship: This is essentially an entry level job opportunity. Once a young person has been inducted into
the organisation and had a settling in period they are able to work alongside the rest of the staff team with
little supervision. This is a ‘foot in the door’ opportunity and often targeted at recent graduates or older
young people. Through the Creative Employment Programme these must be a paid opportunity and are
paid at National Minimum Wage as a minimum and are usually for six months.
Apprenticeship: This is ‘on the job training’ where a young person carries out an identified job role within
an organisation whilst also studying for a qualification at the same time to underpin what they are learning
through practical work experience. Apprenticeships are for a minimum of twelve months and can last for
two years dependent on the apprenticeship framework being studied. These are usually targeted at 16 – 19
year olds as this means that the qualification is fully funded, however it is possible to go up to 24 year olds
for an apprenticeship.
Traineeship: This is considered a pre-apprentice opportunity. The Traineeships offered through the
Creative Employment Programme are seen as introduction to working in the arts and cultural sector and
encouraging young people to understand the range of different jobs available. Young people undertake a
vocational qualification, maths and English if they need to, a bronze Arts Award and do a minimum of
twelve days work shadowing with an arts and cultural organisation. These are usually an unpaid training
opportunity, though bursaries are usually available to assist with travel, etc.
Some examples include
Apprenticeship A: The Dukes, Creative Learning Apprentice:
The Dukes Lancaster, is the largest producing theatre in Lancashire which means we make our work and we
also receive over 50 visiting theatre productions, comedians and live music acts per year. We are also an
Independent Cinema and show over 400 screenings per year. The Dukes’ Creative Learning Department has
been graded by Arts Council England as ‘Outstanding’ for the last three years and we deliver workshops and
participation opportunities for young people in schools, community centres, prisons, hospitals and pretty
much everywhere else. We are looking to recruit an Apprentice who has an interest in the arts, whether
that is music, theatre, art, writing, performing, directing, sound/lighting design or other emerging art form
who would like the opportunity to work in a professional venue with other professional artists and creators.

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Job description:



Assist with delivery of creative learning activities/projects attached to the Dukes ‘home grown’
programme
Shadow / support creative learning community workshops for schools, partners and clients
Support the Creative Learning Director in developing new ideas
Support the Creative Learning Director with researching funding opportunities

Apprenticeship B: Ludus Dance, Project & Administration Apprentice
Ludus Dance (Lancaster) is an arts organisation that makes work for, by and with young people; including
the Lancashire Youth Dance Festival, the International Youth Games and Light Up Lancaster. We have a
passion for developing exciting dance projects and events across Lancashire and have a commitment to
keeping young people at the heart of all the work we do.
Job description:





Learn about our work so that you can answer general enquiries about classes and projects and help
to promote the fantastic work we do;
Welcome people taking part in our Studio classes, taking registers and bookings;
Assist the Arts Administrator with any tasks;
Assist the Arts Administrator to make the office a pleasant and safe place to work;
Help with marketing support, including the opportunity to get involved in our social media;
Assist the Dance Development team with any support they need for projects and events.
Internship A: Burnley Youth Theatre, Trainee Drama Facilitator
Role: Shadow and assist in drama workshops for youth theatre
groups, schools and community projects. Deliver sections of
workshops including warm up games and exercises whilst supervised
by an experienced workshop leader. Co-deliver drama sessions and
other workshops leaders. Lead in the delivery of workshops (where
appropriate). Work with children and young people. Carry out
administrative tasks leading to workshops including monitoring and
evaluation. Carry out general administrative tasks to assist the arts
team. Attend regular arts team and full staff team meetings,
inputting where appropriate.
Internship B: In-Situ, Associate Artist-in-Residence
Role: Working from the Brierfield Library studio and Brierfield mill
workshop space - developing your art practice alongside and
contributing to the In Situ programme, exploring people, place and
environment. Managing content on the In Situ social media, pulling
together the newsletter and helping to distribute promotional
materials for events. Keep a blog/ diary/ sketchbook of your work to
evidence your creative development and art engagement and reflect
on your internship with In Situ. Collate and upload elements of your
work to the In-Situ blog site. Work alongside visiting artists as part of
the in-residence programme and support them if and when
necessary. To work alongside library staff, other partners and In Situ
volunteers. To keep accurate timesheets of hours of work.

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Traineeship A: The Suitcase Ensemble
The Suitcase Ensemble is a theatre company who deliver creative workshops in Liverpool and Halton. We
are offering two paid work placements for young people interested in careers in the Performing Arts. You
will support weekly creative workshops with 7-18 year olds by: photocopying and distributing handouts,
taking registers, collecting registration forms, keeping files and folders in order, helping to set up the space,
and helping with the creative elements of the workshops. You must have some experience of taking part in
drama activities, good organisational skills, ability to work on your own initiative, good attention to detail,
and excellent communication skills.
Traineeship B: Loud in Libraries
Loud In Libraries CIC (LIL) have put on shows in libraries by some of the most foremost music acts and
bands. Acts to have played the library stage include Adele, Florence + The Machine, Jessie J and Noah and
The Whale. The current programme has already featured sell out shows from chart stars Clean
Bandit and Nick Mulvey. Over the coming months we will be working with seven different libraries across
theNorth West. We have always put young people at the heart of our planning and now have a vacancy for
the right person who is reliable, trustworthy, bright and talented and in love with music. This is a varied
role and your duties will include;
Support Loud In Libraries CIC with marketing, including graphic design and creating promotional materials;
Develop our social media profile; making sure that people know what events are happening and how they
can come along; Help develop youth boards and forums across the North West LIL Network; Being an
important part of our front of house team and work in partnership with library staff and volunteers to
ensure the smooth running of GILIL events; Support industry professionals to document our live events
using film and photography; To give technical support to the events team and help with event staging and
lighting; Support with artists liaison at live events
Traineeship C: Cornwall Rural Community Council, Trainee Community Organiser
CRCC is a charity and part of a network of 38 rural community councils across England, all sharing the aim
of enhancing rural communities. Our mission is ‘to enable Cornish communities to be vibrant, sustainable
and inclusive’. We run a variety of projects and offer a range of services which provide information, advice
and guidance to communities, individuals and the voluntary sector as a whole. CRCC is excited to be able to
host three trainee Community Organisers who will develop new ways of community development
activity through in-depth engagement with local communities. The successful candidates will be dynamic,
respectful and be willing to train and work differently to support transformational change in individuals,
communities and institutions. The programme begins with a 3.5-day residential training course to give
trainees the opportunity to get a much deeper understanding of Root Solution Listening Matters and the
Community Organising role.
Key Objectives: Within 51 weeks to: Effectively motivate and mobilise people in neighbourhoods by using
Root Solution Listening Matters organising strategy and process to create community-led change; Achieve
certificated accreditation at Level 2 or 3 in the Foundations of Community Organising within 26 weeks of
the start of the trainee role; During the second 25 weeks, via the Go Deeper options, incorporate other
tools and approaches for animating and focusing community action and change; Identify and train a team
of active volunteer community organisers who will become the Community Holding Team.

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To train in, gain experience of and be successful at community organising by: Actively participating in
training, reflecting on and applying learning to develop personal/professional Community Organising
practice; Following the specified process and deadlines to achieve accreditation in the Foundations of
Community Organising.; Taking responsibility for own learning by attending all Employment Support and
Supervision sessions, all Live Online training sessions, responding to requests for information from
Programme staff and completing all required paperwork; Listening widely to people of all ages and
backgrounds in a specified area within their own homes and in other locations to engage them in
meaningful conversations which enable their voices to be heard; Encouraging and supporting people to
develop their skills and knowledge to motivate them to take action to enable positive change within the
community; Supporting the development of a Community Holding Team who will listen in the community,
research, plan and take co-ordinated action; Providing support to motivated people of all ages to transform
ideas into projects and enterprises, which build on strengths, meet needs and aspirations and tackle
concerns in the community; Beginning to develop new power relationships with the local community and
political, public, voluntary and business sectors; Developing a communication strategy including using social
media which helps to build the network of active residents; Contributing to the Community Organisers
Legacy Body’s knowledge and understanding about community organising; Adhering to and modelling the
programme’s Code of Conduct and the equal opportunities strategies of Locality and the host organisation.

Transferable Learning: Different models exist with different amounts of commitment and
pre-existing skills in place.
In all instances, help understanding the role and going through the application process is
offered such as informal conversations by phone or email, introduction sessions to find
out more or ask questions, checklists to help young people understand if this role is a
match for their outlook, personality and skills.
In most cases, the positions must be advertised at local job centres as well as any other
usual avenues as a condition of the funding. In most cases, formal qualifications of some
kind are embedded.
In all roles, a good balance of both administrative and practitioner activity is included in
the role.

In most cases, the role includes growing youth involvement by other young people such
as advising on promotions to young people, helping increase the numbers of young
volunteers, creating youth boards and advisory groups etc. Thus leaving a bigger legacy
for young people beyond the end of the role.

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GUIDANCE
1.

Consultation: Include children and young people in any developments

Listen to, and build on the ideas of young people. They will tell you what works for them, but they can only
ask for what they already know. Add to their outlook with new opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise be
able to discover. Develop concepts and possibilities in collaboration to achieve successful engagement with
high quality processes, content and production.
Work with them, rather than doing to them. Ideally you will consult in formats that are appropriate to
them. Creative consultation or focus group sessions are a useful starting point. Later on you can recruit
young people into your advisory board or form a youth advisory panel for input on an ongoing basis.
Build young people into your organisations. Schools and colleges are looking for work experience for their
young people and it’s very difficult to find placements for young people looking for creative opportunities.
Think about creating a meaningful placement and intern programme with clearly defined aims and a
balance of activities. Young people do need to learn the basics, but they can also advise you on how you
programme and promote, and become advocates for your organisation. Funding is currently available to
offer creative traineeships for young people, until Nov 2015 (applications open monthly between now and
then) http://ccskills.org.uk/supporters/funding/details/creating-opportunities-for-young-people

2.

Strategic thinking

What makes a good children and young people’s programme? One which is based on an identified need,
has clear aims and objectives, is unique to the situation and strengths at your disposal (including expertise,
partnerships and all other resources), is flexible enough to incorporate the opinions and growth of children
/ young people; includes a responsible exit / development strategy; is monitored, evaluated and reflected
on robustly, sensitively, appropriately and meaningfully; and has a safeguarding policy underpinning it.
Working with children and young people needs strong commitment and sustained investment. A quick hit
may work once by chance, but it will not ensure people keep coming back, and mostly a one-off activity will
struggle to reach young people in the first place. A one-off interaction can, done well and with absolute
vibrancy and spectacle, create a lasting impression but it can also alienate the very people you are trying to
engage if they feel they’ve just been used to fulfil your aims rather than working together towards theirs. It
can take a slow and steady build to reach healthy participation rates. Don’t give up if it doesn’t happen
immediately. Keep reflecting and talking to people.
There are two main avenues of development available:
1. Take a slow and steady approach. Build on your strengths and what you know, work with people you
already have good relationships with, don’t try to change everything at once. Look at piloting a small
number of new changes to see what works. In the design industry this is called iterative development:
change it, test it, reflect on it, make the next change.
2. Be open and ambitious. Set up a programme which tries a range of different ideas and approaches and
see which work well. See it as a consultation process, be up front with yourselves and your participants
that some things will be more successful than others. Experimentation and risk can be worthwhile, as long
as you keep the experiences of the young people as your main priority. If you do choose to go big and
ambitious, do build in stopping points to reflect honestly, and adapt as you go. Have a full reflective debrief
at the end. An external evaluator is especially useful in such instances (and should be involved from the
planning stages before activity is even shaped).
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3.

Practicalities

Go to where young people already congregate and take your work to them. It is a much harder challenge to
encourage them to come to you. That said, in some areas for transport and other reasons, there are few
places they can congregate independently, which is where working with other agencies such as schools and
youth services, is essential; and creating immersive multi-age bursts of activity can help further remove
barriers.
Focus on supporting processes as well as looking towards product. Young people need training, support,
mentoring and enabling to reach any potential you can offer them. Quality processes will lead to quality
products.
Cover safeguarding. If you don’t regularly work with children and young people you may not have
safeguarding / child protection plans in place. Take steps to attend some training, make some relevant
plans, and process applications to the DBS system (background checks for people working with children/
young people / vulnerable adults). Arts Connect can probably support this or signpost you to someone else
who can. Safeguarding practices can be introduced relatively simply and need not be a huge and daunting
avenue.
Be ready to support the emotions of young people. Participating in the arts can be an emotional experience
for young people. Hopefully in a positive way, but sometimes it goes the other way too. Young people’s
participatory arts can often be issues based and / or invite young people to contribute their own thoughts
and ideas. It can be easy to inadvertently lift a lid on a Pandora’s box somewhere. This is one reason why
working in partnership with schools and youth workers / agencies can be hugely important. Arts
organisations are skilled experts at enabling the arts, creativity and expression. They may not be skilled
experts at helping young people manage their own emotions. Don’t be afraid to know your own boundaries
and ask for the help of partners with complementary expertise. Ensure your young participants have a safe
space in which to participate, where they leave with at least the same level of emotional wellbeing they
came with.
Always plan an exit strategy from the outset. Having engaged children and young people you have a
responsibility to ensure their interest can be continued when your programme ends. Without this, young
people quickly become alienated, feeling exploited for your own needs. For each programme or project you
develop think about what they will have discovered by the end and how they can carry this on. It might be
through other programmes of yours, activity another arts organisation offers, links back to school or college
programmes, events offered by youth organisations, relevant websites, opportunities to volunteer etc. In
this way, they become participants for the long term, and will more than likely to come back to you for
future activities. If not, they will still speak highly of you to their friends, who could become your next
round of participants.
Don’t underestimate the importance of food. Depending on where and when your activity is, you may be
reaching children and young people at times of the day they may otherwise need to eat. Hungry
participants flag and are hard to engage. Children and young people burn energy faster than adults.
Providing food at events can help you attract more participants, keep them coming back, and keep their
energy levels at a good pace for getting involved. (Take dietary needs into account, watch the sugar levels,
and never push anyone to eat who does not want to).

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4.

Working with schools

Primary schools in rural areas are often working in classes or groups with much more broadly varied ages
than other schools. Take into account the mix in ages, which is particularly relevant to performances and
participation work. If your activity needs to target a specific age bracket discuss this in advance with your
schools, they may have specific ability groupings which are relevant; but on the whole, prepare your
activity for a range of at least three years. With participatory work this means careful planning so that
differentiation is included for more or less advanced / able / younger / older pupils. Note that different key
stages may also need different ratios of adult helpers / leaders.
Get to know the new national curriculum. For any local authority run schools, being able to show clearly
which elements of the curriculum your activity connects to will be essential for teachers to justify giving up
time to working with you. Also be aware that academies and independent schools can run their own
curriculum, so find out what values, skills, subjects and topics are important to them this year and find the
links to those. A quick look at the school website should help you identify if a school is local authority
maintained or if they are a free / independent school.
As always teachers / teaching assistants should stay with you / the group in any participatory activity. They
are responsible for health and safety and safeguarding, but additionally, it’s an excellent CPD opportunity
for them, and they can help you adapt and tailor the session to the pupils as you go along. Also ensure you
are up to date with DBS (formerly CRB) knowledge and practice in advance. Legal requirements have
become more manageable in the past 2-3 years although schools still often have their own individual rules.
You will find it helpful to know your legal requirements / position in order to liaise with individual schools.
Ultimately however, schools do often still have tighter restrictions on up to date DBS clearance than is
legally required. You may have to go along with their specific guidelines in order to work in that particular
school.
Some schools have underutilised facilities and spaces such as theatres and dance floors and will welcome
professional support to use these spaces. Barriers for groups leaving the school premises increases year on
year with coach costs, the curriculum, and health & safety / risk assessment fears being commonly cited
reasons to stay on site. You may need to spend time in school building up trust and relationships before
teachers can be persuaded to make external trips. Once a school finds an artist or organisation it works well
with, they can keep partnerships going for years. All of these are good reasons to get to know schools and
build relationships.

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5.

Digital opportunities

Though broadband is an issue in some rural areas, it can be an opportunity to increase participation where
digital infrastructure exists. Look at things like NOISE Festival, Artsbox and Ideas Tap for inspiration.
Teachers are increasingly becoming interested in digital resources and remote contact through webinars or
Skype. If your ideas involve social media, don’t try and reinvent the wheel by creating more social network
spaces and expect people to join – instead plug into those already being used. Be aware that the social
media spaces young people use are not necessarily the ones you do. You may not have heard of many of
them and you will need to do some research to find the best fit between your organisation and the people
you want to reach. Also remember most social media spaces have a minimum age limit – all are different
though the majority are 13 or older.
Traditional marketing (flyers, posters, adverts etc) for young people does not work. Involvement and word
of mouth is far more likely, and digital technology as a tool for inclusion, participation and creativity works
well here especially in an area where physical distances can be a barrier. Think about the virtual
opportunities, not just shared platforms but also things that allow everyone to be in the same ‘room’
though miles apart – Skype, webinars, live broadcasts etc. (Again find out what platforms young people
already use before deciding to opt on one particular system, a small amount of consultation up front will
save you time and frustration in the long run).

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This resource was commissioned by Arts Connect. It was researched and written by Sally Fort
Further follow-up research is available on
-

Consortium approaches to engaging children and young people
Theories, models and pedagogies to underpin participation activity
Further reading / relevant reports on arts and young people in rural areas

Thanks to the following for their input:
Sue Robinson, Director, Spot On Rural Touring / Culturapedia (Lancashire)
Sally Clements, Arts & Young People Consultant (Devon)
Nicola Bell, Heritage Consultant (Northumberland)
Viv West, Project Manager, Creative Futures (Cumbria)
Laura Jay, Actress / Director / Teacher, The south Devon Players Theatre Company (Devon)
Lorraine Kenney, Learning Manager, Coffin Works (Birmingham)
Karen Merrifield, Education Consultant, Educate Innovate Ltd (York)
Liz Postlethwaite, Director, Smallthings (National)

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