18 June 2018

All over the capital, in youth clubs, community centres, theatres, museums, faith groups, parks and in their own homes, young people are choosing to spend their free time creating. Whether they are crafting, rehearsing lines, drafting stories, producing tracks, writing lyrics, playing instruments or painting murals, they are developing their creativity, imagination and skills.

At London Youth, we are incredibly proud of our network of over 320 member youth organisations and the high quality work that they deliver week in and week out to empower young people to develop their talents and express themselves.

But too often, youth organisations tell us that they struggle to run the inspiring creative projects that young people need and want. With cuts to funding, limited staff time and capacity, and challenges securing space and materials, it can seem that the odds are stacked against community arts activities. And in a climate of severe cuts to youth services affecting young people with ever more complex needs, creative projects too often end up on the back burner.

At the same time, arts subjects being are pressed out of the school curriculum due to cuts and the impact of the English Baccalaureate, and we’re seeing a drop in the take-up of arts subjects at GCSE and A Level.

So where does this leave young people?

We believe that there is more risk than ever that young people will be left without supportive spaces where they can explore the arts and develop their skills, making the arts virtually inaccessible to the majority of young people who don’t have the resources or connections to access other opportunities.

But against this challenging back drop, there is huge momentum from across our membership to create opportunities for young people. We believe that youth clubs and other youth and community organisations are brilliant places for young people to get creative. In a safe and welcoming environment where they’re surrounded by friends and trusted adults, young people can stretch themselves and try new things.

Arts and cultural activities are the most popular activities within our network of 320 member youth organisations. A survey last year showed that arts and crafts, drama and music are being delivered by many youth organisations and are hugely popular with the young people they serve.  And for good reason; engaging in the arts gives young people the opportunity to build their confidence and resilience, or as one person put it ‘I’m just really proud that I made the film. I did it all by myself so I’m very happy!’

Our Young Culture Makers programme

That’s why this year we have supported over 100 young people to participate in youth-led arts projects at their local youth organisations through our Young Culture Makers programme.

They have explored a range of art forms including:

  • Sculpture
  • Spoken word
  • Creative writing
  • Theatre
  • Puppetry
  • Fashion design
  • Music
  • Photography
  • Street art
  • Jewellery
  • Painting
  • Film-making

These young people have had the opportunity to meet artists, work with local arts organisations, visit London’s inspiring venues, learn about a new art form and express themselves through creative projects.

The youth organisations participating have become hubs of creative activity, running new projects and bringing in new partners and volunteers to support them. One of the youth workers on the project told us:

“Before we met with the arts organisation, I was thinking visual arts basically meant painting, drawing, maybe getting out some clay! But when I told them about our group and our young people, they started suggesting loads of ideas – jewellery design, pinhole photography, hand drawn animation, listing off all these things I’d never even heard of or thought about! It’s totally opened my mind to what the possibilities are and I’m buzzing about it!”

 

Want to be inspired by the Young Culture Makers’ creative endeavours?

Keep up to date with their progress by following us on Twitter: @LondonYouth and @emilylyarts and keep an eye out for updates from our Young Culture Makers Showcase later this month.

Emily Reddon, Arts Development Officer