Here we share some of the key learning from the Celebrate ART project and offer an emerging model of good practice for galleries and artists embarking upon co-production projects with young people.
Key impacts of Celebrate ART
The positive impact on participating young people included:
- Friendship and support;
- Meeting like-minded peers;
- Increase in confidence;
- An introduction to a broad range of artistic techniques and materials;
- An introduction to skills relating to working as an artist;
- Learning about themselves through art;
- Moving on to positive destinations.
The positive impact on participating trainees included:
- Developing hands-on creative leadership skills;
- Being paid fairly for their time;
- Forming career plans.
The positive impact on participating galleries included:
- An opportunity for partnership working;
- The ‘Year of Young People’ as an opportunity to be ambitious;
- Plans to continue to work with young people;
- Plans to continue to work with project partners.
Key learning from Celebrate ART
Celebrate ART was a completely new opportunity for young people aged 15 – 25 to participate in a visual arts programme, and 33 young people benefitted in total as participants or trainees. The quality of the artistic experience was high, with projects led by three visual art organisations each employing a specialist professional artist.
Celebrate ART provided participants with a broad education in visual art techniques and the visual art industry more widely. The participants and trainees benefited from this realistic introduction to the experience of working as an artist. It is notable that following Celebrate ART at least 12 of the participating young people are now either at or applying for art college, and at least one is employed in the visual arts.
A great success — and a unique element of Celebrate ART — was also the paid nature of the traineeships. This allowed the trainees to pursue their artistic ambitions without needing to supplement their income with less relevant part-time work. Importantly it also clearly set the tone that artists should expect to be fairly paid for their work, which was widely appreciated across all stakeholders.
The participants also found that participating in Celebrate ART impacted positively on their personal lives. They found positive sources of support from like-minded peers, which some found validating in a way that they had not experienced before. Many found making art to be enjoyable and calming, which had a positive impact on their mental health. Notably, the artists all instilled the participants with a new confidence in experimentation and some commented that this new ‘bold’ approach filtered through into the way that they led their life and approached their problems.
The journey towards co-production was a key challenge and a key success of Celebrate ART. Across the three projects the artists worked hard to carefully plan a series of sessions that would firstly promote engagement and group bonding, and latterly introduce the young people to a wide range of visual art skills and materials and the wider experience of working as an artist. Ultimately, this gave the young people the confidence and inspiration to take the lead in producing their own visual art and curating the outputs for public viewing. This was not an easy process, but the scope and scale of the end products exceeded expectations and proved a highly empowering experience for the young people.