A report published in June 2015 by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills calls for schools to focus on giving young people a combination of technical and creative skills (here)
Photo: Johan Larsson, creative industries
This brought to mind an unexpected conversation I had a couple of months ago.
I needed to find out the stats behind a website and app for a project I was evaluating. I phoned the man who had designed them and he explained the difference between number of visits and unique visitors; that having 94% of app downloads on iOS reflects the dominance of Apple in the smartphone market etc.
At the end of the conversation he said, “by the way Ruth, you might not remember me, but I was in the youth theatre you ran in Cynon Valley.” This was an OMG moment. The youth theatre was 20 years ago, so we had a lovely 5 minutes reminiscing.
I wonder what careers advice he would have got in the early 1990s. Heavy industry had gone from Cynon with the exception of the valiant worker-owned Tower Colliery. Things looked bleak for young men in the Valleys. What I can be absolutely sure about is that no one said “go to university and get yourself into the Creative Industries.” Do you remember the world when websites didn’t exist? When sending an email took ages and was presaged by that buzzing of the dial up? When mobile phones were bricks that yuppies used?
This young person continued down a creative path, which he combined with an interest in technology and by the early 2000s he had his own company making websites – and more recently apps.
Yes, lets encourage a combination of technical and creative skills in our schools. But what’s more interesting for me is the impossibility of predicting areas of growth in the future. In 20 years time it will be 2035. I’m hoping there’ll be new, green, sustainable, equitable industries that we can’t even imagine yet. Just as 20 years ago we couldn’t imagine that a young lad in the Cynon Valley would be making a living designing apps.
This group of brilliant young people has completed their research into what a youth arts festival for Wales could look like.
The group propose a festival that is by young people for young people. The festival will be fun, innovative and surprising. It will be about performing and exhibiting work, opportunities to get to know each other and learn from each other. The festival will be bilingual and be fully inclusive of people with disabilities. It will be an immersive experience over a series of days when a large group stay together, with additional audiences coming for single days.
We’ve made 12 specific recommendations to the Arts Council of Wales backed up by a lengthy report, giving our reasoning.
- A festival which moves to urban environments throughout Wales, anchored at an arts venue with satellite locations in the town/city
- The target audience is young people aged 12 – 25 years. Families and supporters will also be targeted to buy day tickets
- The inaugural festival to take place in 2016 to allow sufficient time to prepare for an ambitious programme
- The inaugural festival to take place in Newport and the following year in Bangor
- The 2016 festival to be anchored at The Riverfront plus spaces throughout the city
- The first festival will last 3 days: evening Thursday 18th to afternoon Sunday 21st August 2016. The number of days can build in future years
- In order to have an in-depth immersive experience, all participants should be accommodated close-by. The preferred option is to use university accommodation
- Partnerships will be crucial to the success of the festival, in particular working closely with youth arts leaders across Wales
- In order to generate interest for the first festival there should be a lead-up campaign from early 2015 which makes creative use of digital media
- Young people will be in the driving seat throughout the organisation of the festival. This will include forming a steering group, curating the festival, working as apprentices, and being trained as volunteers on all aspects of the festival
- Sponsorship or funding will be sought to cover the cost of accommodation and food, and / or a bursary scheme. There will be a charge for day tickets. The festival will be free of charge for volunteers and as low a price as possible for participants
- The festival will have paid staff to set up and run the event
We are delighted that Arts Council Wales has published the full report and its response here: http://www.artscouncilofwales.org.uk/youth-arts-festival and that they would like Ceridwen to do further work on the journey towards a youth arts festival.
During the Easter break, this fantastic group of young people joined Sarah Greenhalgh, Sarah Vining and me to start work on making a youth arts festival a reality for Wales. The project has been commissioned by Arts Council of Wales and we are working as Associates of Ceridwen. By the end of August 2014 we will produce a report which details the practical and organisational implications.
This work is being led by young people – after all, they’re the experts on what they want. We are delighted to have a team which includes people from all parts of Wales and represents a wide range of artforms and approaches.
Can’t wait to start taking them to other festivals in Wales, UK and beyond so they can really clarify what could work in Wales.
Please leave a comment if you have any suggestions about what the Festival should include.