Ongoing since 2012
Tell us briefly about the Young Producers programme and who it is for?
Young Producers is a group for young and emerging artists aged 18 to 30. Members are from a wide variety of backgrounds and practice all artforms from puppeteering to poetry to visual arts. It’s for artists who want to do it as a career or simply want to keep their art going if they don’t do it as a career. There are currently 12 members and the group is self-led, to provide peer support. City Arts respond to their needs and support what they want to do. We give them the opportunities to be part of what we deliver and opportunities to join in events in the community. Whilst they’ve not been able to meet in person due to COVID-19, they are still meeting on digital platforms and have social Quiz Nights etc.
Did you involve young people in the project design and delivery? If so, how?
The whole project came from young people themselves really, we have a youth project called ‘Express Yourself’, aimed at 13- 17 year olds and also host young people on work placements etc. After the WEYA (World Event Young Artists) event in 2012 in Nottingham, some of those young people we had supported through our programme said "we’ve taken part in this, what next?" How can we be involved in community art projects? So we developed the Young Producers group. Since then they have been involved in community projects, receiving training, international exchanges, meeting peers from other countries as well as exhibitions, taking part in festivals and running workshops. It’s been very nice, and it all started with them and in consultation with them. They wanted to expand their arts culture and we supported them to do what they want.
What excites you most about this project?
The fact that I’m supporting a group of young adults, something that I would’ve loved to have at that age. It’s such a great opportunity and it really excites me that they really value it. It’s also exciting to give them the opportunity to learn about community arts, to learn that there’s more to art than galleries and theatres, there’s also exciting art opportunities in community arts.
What have you learnt in the process?
I’ve learned to really listen. We sometimes think we know best in our organisations and we choose to do what we want to do, but I’ve learned to listen and let them take the driving seat. You need to trust them and enable them to have a voice. The feeling of being valued and having a voice is very powerful for young adults.
What’s your top tip for engaging with children and young people?
Listening, that’s definitely the most important thing in engaging with young people. Honesty is also important, for example when something isn’t working you need to be honest, it helps to teach resilience. They need to be able to let their guard down, so not being patronising or taking the role of authority, but one of a mentor is important to build trust and a rapport.
Are there key individuals that have helped the project work well? What did they do?
All of them (the Young Producers)! They all contribute equally in their own way, they all form part of a whole.
As an organisation, how do you gather information about what young people want?
Though conversations and discussion. We have an annual meeting to discuss how things are going and what they want to do in the future, the strategy. There’s also quarterly meetings to discuss how things are going.
How do you promote activities to reach young people that may not have participated before?
We utilise social media and our website, but we also have promotional events, for example last year we had an event to reach international students at Nottingham and Trent Universities to encourage them to get involved.
Are you using new technologies to bring in more people?
Yes, we will try lots of different things. For example for the Poetry Festival and in 2018 and 2019 we tried Augmented Reality poetry using an app on your phone. We used beer mats which you could scan and a poet would appear on your phone and recite a poem. It was a lot of fun.
For the Nottstopping Festival a few weeks ago three of the members ran workshops using Facebook Live, which reached new audiences.
How does working in partnership help you reach ‘more and different’ children and young people?
All of our work is based on partnerships, working with community organisations, universities and venues. Community arts is all about partnerships and we reach our young people through these partnerships, letting them know what we’re doing and how they can join in.
Alma Solarte-Tobon Creative Producer at City Arts