On 15th July, the Gulbenkian in Canterbury hosted Uprising 2017. Curated and led by the ART31 group of young people aged 13-25, the event was designed to help challenge ideas and ignite change in the arts. The day opened with a dance performance; choreographed by Andrew Rebelo of Jasmin Vardimon Dance Company, it addressed social division and inequality and suitably set the tone for the day.
Following the performance, Arts Council England’s Darren Henley took to the stage, accompanied by Jasmin Vardimon and Kent County Council’s cultural champion, Mike Hill. Brandon Relph, an impressive young entrepreneur, and Daniel McCormick, community artist from Dunbartonshire, also joined them, for a conversation on ‘creating the future’.
Daniel shared his journey, tracing his roots from a deprived community where he felt excluded from arts and culture, to actively enjoying, learning and leading arts activity as part of Scotland’s national Time to Shine 10-year youth arts strategy. He now works as a mentor and inspiration for other young people in his local community.
Following a performance by Acrojou, a fascinating session took place, featuring Jake Davis, a ‘hacker of creativity’; Hamish Pirie, Associate Director at the Royal Court, who spoke on authenticity and ‘being yourself’; Envy DJ discussed the power and reach of writing music, and ART31’s own Emma Westbrook told of her gender equality and empowerment project, Boss(y) Girls.
Next, attendees gathered for a screening of ART31’s documentary, which charts the progress of their project and the launch of the ART31 commitment and manifesto. Darren Henley praised their hard work, stating that Arts Council England were proud to support the group. They now have a Youth Board, which draws young people together from across Kent. The documentary will be available in the Autumn.
The afternoon included workshops and round table discussions on different themes, and provided attendees with the opportunity to meet creative industry professionals. Three What Now? sessions focused on different questions, and delegates were asked to shape and then vote on statements to form a manifesto around themes of health and wellbeing, employment and education.
“Artswork is enormously proud to see ART31 develop from an early seed network investment into the impressive movement it is today, supported by partners at Kent County Council.” (Lucy Medhurst, Artswork’s Strategic Manager for Kent)
The real impact of this outreach work in Kent can be felt through a quote from Sophie (one of ART31’s Youth Board members):
“I am currently doing my Gold Arts Award and have used the Uprising event as my leadership project. I would like to thank [Gulbenkian] for allowing the Youth Board to be a part of this amazing event – it has been a fantastic experience and I am so grateful for all the support and opportunities that you have given to young people in the area. ART31 has given me so many new skills and I’ve developed confidence and self-belief. Youth Board has helped me to focus on future pathways and has taken me out of my comfort zone to experience different aspects of the arts that I would not have otherwise experienced.”
The ART31 Youth Board continues to work in close collaboration with the Cultural Education Partnership in East Kent, to help shape priorities and inform their business plan and future work. Find out more about Cultural Education Partnerships here…