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Next Generation!

Runaway - an image from 'Scene & Heard' by student Lucy Farrell

Runaway - an image from 'Scene & Heard' by student Lucy Farrell

What is the Next Generation?  It’s a moment in time to reflect upon what are the ingredients that make good arts in education or arts with young people here in the South West – though blogs as I understand have no geographical boundaries.  Why now?  Well the Arts Council in their strategic framework for the Arts ‘Achieving Great Art for Everyone’ has highlighted in its Goal Five that ‘Every child and young person has the opportunity to experience the richness of the arts’.  Hurrah!  So now is the time to highlight some of the great work that is going on in the region and to debate what makes it great and how we can learn from each other.  KEAP has tendered to initiate this debate.

Two weeks ago we put out a call for examples of innovative, interesting and inspiring work and my email has been red hot with people nominating projects.  They can only be categorised by their huge variety!  From a Gold Arts Award student in Camborne Community College creating a piece of theatre about how children in care often carried all their belongings in black plastic bags each time they moved home, when shown to people of influence, this changed local authority policy, to a dance project in Plymouth which started with 6 young dancer leaders and spread to 10,000 participants in Dance Explosion. 

This week I have attended a CYMAZ music session in the Methodist hall in my village with young people creating their own reggae surf song for recording on CYMAZ radio, the celebration of ‘Scene and Heard’ a media project we have run with CYMAZ with hard to reach young people exploring issues through photography, cartooning and podcasting for radio.  Wednesday am visiting Travelling Light Theatre Company in Bristol and Thursday the BBC Concert Orchestra visit Plymouth to plan their family orchestras for Devon and Cornwall linked to the Cultural Olympiad.  A rich mix!

Over the next six weeks we want to hear from you. Please share your thoughts and experiences – you can also add links to project pages, images or film.

It’s now over to you!

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Comments (15)

  • Avatar

    Anna Murphy

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    The time is NOW to invest in our young people. They do not deserve the bleak outlook for them i’ve just listened to on the radio. The projects which Amanda is talking about above are a glimmer of hope on the horizon, giving a taste of other possibilities to this next generation, never has it been more important for the arts and creative industries to be involved in this future, and never has it been at such risk. This is why this debate is so important, as this is a forum to change policy, by us all engaging in it, and to give examples of best practice and projects that we are most proud of, many of which i have had the privilege to be involved with.
    Some highlights.
    100 dancers from 5 to 80 at Trebah Gardens in Global Gardens Projects with cscape.
    Rogue’s Twenty Five  Tent at Port Eliot  watching Carefree(Young people in care) perform their poetry to a packed tent
    Tea-treat projects across the county, from Mousehole to Devonport and everywhere between.
    Fairy tale project in Hall for Cornwall
    First session of Writing Squad Kernow with 28 young writers
    Writing a song with Scilly children for Sing-up project
    WILD project
    Hit and Run poets on National Poetry day bursting into classrooms.

    Too many to mention, will add more next time.
    Anna (Murphy)

    Reply

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    Rebecca Gregson

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    I absolutely love working with Cornwall’s young people, which, for me, usually means in school. It’s a privilege to be in on their thought processes, to hear their dialogue without feeling as if you’re eavesdropping, watch their interaction without feeling like you might get punched (well, you can’t hang around staring tat them in the street, can you?) and then, if I’m lucky, I get to help them shape their fresh and funny and endlessly creative ideas into something more than playground banter – a play, a short story, a character for a later novel, who knows? Cornish children and young people totally believe in their own voices, they want to be heard, their ideas (and sometimes even their writing) shine with originality, even when projects are scaled down, money pulled, trips cancelled. They just keep bubbling with hope and creative energy, and genuine commitment to the project too, despite any  difficulties or disappointments (these things happen often, big ideas too frequently get forced into smaller ones, not always because of lack of money, sometimes lack of staff, classroom space, timetable space etc). I’ve seen shy pupils leap from their shells, noisy ones go all contemplative, there’s nothing better than hearing the wobble of epiphany in a young person’s voice as he or she reads out his/her work and realises it’s not just good but NEW (brilliant!)
    But all hail Cornish Youth…you deserve every opportunity to enjoy the richness of the arts out there.

    Becca  

    Reply

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    Elaine Ruth White

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    It’s heartwarming to hear of the successful, innovative projects described above by Amanda and Anna. In an unequal world where the gap between the ‘haves and the have nots’ is widening, opportunities that allow young people to be creative and use their own voice can give hope to many Cornish communities and the county as a whole. CAKE for Young Playwrights (supported by KEAP and The Works) discovered how tough it can be to reach young writers, but how rewarding it is to see their work come to fruitiion through an event like MENU at The Poly in Falmouth – a wonderful example of creative agencies working together. Dream Team’s Theatre School at Easter (to run alongside their production tour) is a great example of an initiative aimed at young people that does not rely on grant funding!

    Reply

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    Hannah Baker

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    Yesterday I left work feeling really invigorated after a meeting with two drama and art therapists who are working with children in Dorset through our arts education partnership. Some of the feedback about young people who face sometimes seemingly insurmountable challenges being able to find ways of coping and ways to change their lives through working with the drama and art therapists is incredible. If children who are extremely vulnerable can benefit through the arts when all other approaches have failed, why should they not have the opportunity? Perhaps I’ve highlighted a more extreme example, but I know the arts can provide tools for learning through skills, emotional understanding, health and wellbeing, enjoyment and so much more to ALL children given the opportunity. Dorset has many schools delivering a creative curriculum, enabling teachers to construct exciting and innovative teaching, creating education experiences that aim to engage all children. Surely if education policy heads in a direction where arts are sidelined as extra-curricular, it is not making progress, it’s denying children access to an enriching education?
    I say celebrate
    arts education and arts experienecs for children and look closely at what they can offer!

    Reply

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    Tim Smithies

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    I can only concur with the positive comments above about the engagement and dynamism of young people in Cornwall.  

    Two illustrative experiences of mine this week:

    Richard Lander school to a double bill performance (on three consecutive nights) of a new play “Anderson versus Grimm” a comic exploration of Fairy Tales and a new dance “The Juniper Tree” based on Carol Ann Duffy’s work with a new ballet score by Russell Pascoe .  Simple sets, but imaginative props,  company discipline and enthusiasm, live music (most of it) from a student band and well sound engineered, lighting.   The hi energy and high quality of the whole event, the participation of  large numbers of girls and boys shows there is a great demand from young people for active roles in high quality arts activity.

    Also yesterday saw (at the Carn to Cove and Equity  “Access to Rural Touring event)  the emerging Tuba virtuosos from UCF “Twoba” showcase a crazy demonstration of multiphonics on two tubas…..Improvising duo Marke Riseborough and Lorna Wrycraft are students at Tremough and had the initiative to come and share their “out there” ideas about Tuba playing.  

    This is great new work going on in Cornwall schools.  Our challenge at Carn to Cove is to connect this with the wider Cornwall communities and through other agencies like Cornwall Music Forum provide paths for young people after school and in tandem with tertiary education to wider participation and paths both  to employment and richer lives.

    Reply

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    Antony Waller

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    I am very lucky to be working with Brownsea Island (National Trust) at the moment, within a cultural partnership of DepARTure, wave,  Activate and Dorset Youth Association- and the reason I’m telling you is because I came off the island yesterday completely inspired and irrationally happy- and being reminded of the most important “why”. We have challenged a group of young people to work with us and explore new ways of telling stories, re-presenting ideas and impressions of special places- the young people have come up with 2 connected ideas- first of all, a “Young People’s Alternative Guide to Brownsea Island” (a complex challenge, and one which is, as you will have worked out already, desperately in need of a snappy title!) and a live public performance event to be staged in 2012. The young people and ourselves have recruited 2 brilliant people to lead the development of these ideas- Sandy Kirkby for the Alternative Guide and Stephanie Jalland of Hoodwink to direct the live event- but the reason for telling you all this was just reflecting on how great it is when ideas get thought up, shared, kicked around, abandoned, re-shaped and re-worked between young people with a capacity for highly original thought (and fewer preconceptions) and inspired professionals who have an idea how to turn ideas into a reality- it’s terribly exciting! And for the National Trust- terribly brave, which is not a word one often associates with the Trust. And in a time of economic austerity and a sinking feeling that everything’s going to get much harder to do for a few years- yesterdays experience really cheered me up!

    Reply

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    Rob

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    Children’s imaginations and inquisitive minds are a constant inspiration. I hosted a small group of pupils (year 3 – 6) in a visit to our Gallery ‘The Nunnery’ a few weeks ago. The pupils were taking a research trip as they are setting up their own professional artist studio, gallery and inspiration space for creative writing in a disused classroom at school (Question: Where do we have our best ideas? Answer: whilst riding a bike, in a bath filled with foam or in a small shed of course! – so what do we do, we install these things in school to inspire their writing of course…).

    Anyway… back to the point. One of our visitors was an eight year old boy. At the end of his explore around the exhibition we sat down for a chat. “Rob, I have two questions for you because I know you will know the answers” he said. His first question: “When did art begin?”. I asked the group their thoughts, and then chipped in that I imagined that cave paintings could have been the first. “I knew you would say that” he told me. “Cavemen painted instructions on walls though: how to hunt, warnings to their children. They didn’t think they were making art, so was it art?”. I love young minds and their unique outlook on the world. A treasure in the world’s crown. Something of vital importance that we have a duty to nurture and support. We can help create the next generation of great thinkers, doers and creators who can truly make a difference to our world. So that’s our challenge and we need to rise to it.
    I mustn’t forget his second question, of equal importance of course. “Rob, why are you wearing one yellow sock?”.

    Reply

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    amanda harris

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    “Young people are at their most creative in their early twenties – they don’t need to conform to cultural norms …Our aim is to put young people in a position where they are leading” this was Sheila Snelgrove artistic director of the Barbican Theatre in Plymouth introducing their project Flourish -a mini-season of performances by up and coming companies, showcasing works in circus-theatre, spoken word, visual and physical theatre, over a period of ten weeks. Seven young graduate interns have sourced the artists, marketed the events managed the programme and taken the risk…
    In a different approach Plymouth Music Zone has just come to the end of a highly successful programme of one-to-one mentoring, funded by Youth Music. During this time PMZ ran 240 hours of mentoring working with twenty young mentees. The programme was aimed at young people ‘at risk’ and engaged participants from a wide variety of ages, backgrounds, abilities, and cultures. Everyone engaged in a variety of music making sessions from song writing, guitar lessons, studio recording projects, percussion and drumming, singing and much more.
    Music was the invaluable key to setting the starting block of each piece of work but the real focus and heart of the work was in developing reliable and trusted interpersonal relationships between mentor and mentee. Evaluations have highlighted some exceptionally transformative and effective practice but most importantly proved that the process itself had made in many cases a genuine and lasting difference to the young people involved.
    Two different approaches but both inspiring and both needing a lot of time and commitment from the arts organisation.

    Reply

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    Brett Jackson

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    Play and physical fun unites young people; overcoming a range of barriers to learning.

    Circus across Cornwall is a fantastic non competitive combination of play, arts and sports…a fun, safe space for all to join in and create magic. The circus school (Circo Kernow) provides accredited programmes for young people – often their first certificate enabling confidence and progression.
    Clown training enables young people to celebrate failure and problems as a creative way forward and an antidote to academic pressures to succeed and rush off to corporate futures.
    Circo Kernow and the many youth circus groups are linked to The Celtic Youth Circus bringing together young people from across the Celtic regions as well as the UK youth Circus and CDA (Circus Development Agency). The many arts and sports partnerships in Cornwall, enable the cross polination of skills; alowing young people to mix circus with opera, dance, theatre, puppetry and film. They link to opportunities with partners such as recent Circo Kernow young people’s circus performances at Eden with aerial dances in the biomes.

    Circus has the power to unite, unite and energise young people and acts as a spectacular catalyst for inclusion and the communication of ideas and dreams….Circo Kernow….for one and all…

    Reply

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    Amanda Harris

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    Last night was the first of our Next Generation Gatherings at the egg in Bath. It was wonderful to see so many people, to share the great work our research has discovered and also to have such an active discussion. The points that came out for me from the session are: 1. The importance of careful documentation of projects, however hard that might be. When observing children you need an open mind and listeneing ears. We now recognise the enormous capacity of young people and this has come through observation. 2. We say our work is having an influence on yuong people, but we’re not good at asking how we know- we need to be able to show this over time. 3. We need to look at each project and its aims, and then decide on the best way to deliver it. Let’s not be formulaic. We need to be sensitive to context. It’s not appropriate for everything to be young people led. 4. It’s so important to keep projects open ended so there is genuine discovery, this does mean taking risks.

    I’m at the Salisbury gathering tonight, and Helen’s in Truro, so keep your eye out for a post about our findings there.

    Amanda

    Reply

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    Helen

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    Truro’s Gathering was packed with lovely people and lovely cake! Something which came out of the discussion was around ‘Great Art for Everyone’ and therefore quality of experience and product. Every arts experience for young people should be as good as it possibly can be, otherwise it can do more harm than good. We know that artists don’t set out to make mediocre work, but sometimes it happens. So, when it does the important thing is that the experience is honestly assessed. Young people should know that it’s fine not to like things, but should also be able to say why. And who is to say what is brilliant? The experience needs to be great even if you didn’t like the product.

    Look forward to meeting new faces in Dorchester tonight!

    Reply

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    amanda

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    Cake in salisbury was maginificent! Really enjoyed the Grovesnor Youth Centre as well.
    We had some interesting discussions aorund the quality of exeperience – there is high qulaity work in all artforms. We all need at times to move out of our comfort zone from the familiar to the less familiar. We need more trained practitioners in inclusive practice – young people are missing out because inspirational practitioners are not trained to work with more challenging young people. Does this mean more shadowing and mentoring opportunities? Could a network support this? This could also support more creative practitioners staying in the region.

    We talked about young people and arts venues and getting over the barrier of the entering the building. However, once that barrier is breached the young people have immense pride at being part of venue e.g. the Hijack Group in Salisbury Arts Centre who are working with the Arts Centre and WYAP to host and market events. There is an anxiety about the quality programming by ‘letting go’ of the reins but this is can be resolved when the project is set up and parameters are set. There are challenges in encouraging the group to market the event to people they don’t know and so broaden the reach. It was also felt that consultation is the key to successful project working. So that even if the project is not young people led they have stamped their mark on the project and so they will buy into it. the role of the project manager then is build on this and extend the young people into those unfamiliar territories. It was felt that taking on board young people’s ideas keeps us as pracitioners fresh. The group also really liked sharing examples of good practice and would like to keep this going.
    the sun is shining beautifully in Salisbury and am continuing my tour of library internet stations in the south west – fantastic service!

    Reply

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    Jane Pugh

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    I went to the Cake and Debate session at the Hall for Cornwall. I have the following RE-actions. There were about 3 blokes in the room. I think sessions such as these are very female-biased, including cakes and table clothes etc.
    I stayed for the presentations. We insist that work has always got to be fantastic and top quality so we are totally denying the opportunity for proper, rigorous evaluation. It forces us to say that every outcome is amazingly wonderful because we must to validate the project. If we do that we will never change. In my own life if I say ‘My life is amazing’ I will never make changes, when I said ‘I am lonely’ I got Jack the Dog & my life dramatically improved.
    This was the second time I heard/read some glib remark about being middle aged and middle class. I am both. I don’t just speak for myself when I say I have had to fight for everything I’ve got so back off with the sneering assumptions. But on that note, I don’t need help so I think we should concentrate our efforts on those who do. So, my ideas:
    1. Male mentoring for young people without active, loving, responsible fathers/ male role models.
    2. Confidence and assertiveness building for girls in need. Two women every week are murdered by violent partners in this country.
    3. No more ‘educational rooms’ at galleries and museums, I think we should follow Brian’s lead at Falmouth and make them all genuinely family / children friendly. Stop creating them / us environments; make creativity and exploration a part of the fabric of every day life.
    4. Arts Council take note! Are we your applicants being socially manipulated?Are you making the application process so difficult now to stop so many people applying because of the cuts?
    5. Furthermore, set aside part of your GFA funding and call it ‘leg up’ make it easier for those entering the creative world to apply.
    6. GFA money for research and development for the middle aged or should I say ‘mid career,’ stop running your cars on ’empty’.

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    Amanda Harris

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    Hear hear Jane about Falmouth Art Gallery. I had popped in last week and happened upon a baby painting session. Yes – about 15 babies, assisted by carers and gallery staff, gathered on a vast plastic sheet and armed with paint, brushes and their bodies as their preferred canvas. Bold, bright joy! Last night’s Gathering in Langport in Somerset and hosted by Spaeda was a great meeting of minds. A good mix of artists, teachers, arts organisations and local authority staff who were all keen to discuss issues around arts and schools and with young people. Some thoughts that arose: there is always a problem trying to fit the arts into learning, rather the learning should revolve around the arts. One teacher described a 6 week block of work which took sculpture at the Broomhill Sculpture Park as a starting point which then fed into all areas of the curriculum. She described how energised all the children and staff were by this. People talked about the importance of play – why does this stop at 11, or even younger? the power the media to break down or build barriers. One teacher described how many of her pupils would happily say “I can sing, dance or tell a joke” but a huge number would say “I can’t draw”. A local authority funder urged people to use film and new media to monitor and evaluate projects as this has a higher impact than a written report especially if made by the young people involved.
    This group were very keen to create a network from the session. Off to Exeter now to the final session of the week.

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    amanda harris

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    It was a fascinating week being ‘on tour’ and meeting so many creative, inspired people who are passionate about work with young people in the Arts. There is understandably a lot of anxiety about a withdrawal from creativity in the education system and the reduction in the arts funding but people generally focussed on the work and how hearing about other projects and discussing their work with others was a great thing to do. I think everyone is going to be watching the Schools Without Walls project at the egg and how this could be modelled in other cultural buildings.

    In Exeter the group did reflect on how this could work in a rural area with all the issues around transport – maybe it is a question of looking at what resources there are and using them in a better and more creative way.

    There was also a lot of talk about how ideally projects with young people should be on a long term basis so that there is time for them to evolve and for young people to really shape direction and outcomes and also to build up trust. Where this is not possible the teachers or youth workers need to feel able to run with the work and continue to support the young people. Sometimes if the booking is for a week’s work it may be better to have 5 days input but over a longer period.

    A
    county councillor at the meeting reminded people that if they want to influence school policy the best way is through becoming a school govenor. Also in Devon, at least, each councillor does have some funding for community projects/activity.

    Finally someone described how his son had attended a sculpture workshop at school and came home buzzing from this ” This was the first time my son had ever talked about what he did at school.”

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