Back in November 2013, our My Culture My London research found that there is a range of
deeper factors driving young people’s decision to engage that go beyond price,
lack of time and lack of information about what is available. However, knowing
more about the nature of these factors only cracks half the code – what is key is working out how to turn this
knowledge into implementable ideas. And that’s where we found ourselves thinking about the next
steps for My Culture My London.
There were two voices we needed to hear from in order to have a chance of creating these ideas – young people themselves, with their first-hand experience of what it means to access arts and culture in London and stakeholders from the cultural sector who have the knowledge and influence to make these ideas a reality.
We planned two co-creation workshops, one with each group. Both workshops followed a similar format. The first stage saw participants engage in some “blue skies” thinking by coming up with their own ‘I wish…’statements’ on what is needed to make arts and culture more accessible and available to young people in London. This was important in two ways; first it meant that there was no limit for participants when it came to expressing their views which, in turn, allowed the most innovative ‘tucked away’ ideas to emerge. It also meant that the most relevant ideas came to the fore as participants were asked to vote on their favourite statements. Working in smaller groups, the most voted for ideas or themes were then developed and fleshed out into practical solutions.
Holding workshops with the two groups in succession meant that some of the ideas that were proposed by the adults could be considered and critiqued by the young people in the second workshop. Organised in partnership with the ICA, this saw 12 young people coming together for a whole day. The day kicked off with a creative workshop led by artist Harold Offeh and centred around mapping elements within spaces and daily journeys within the city. The second part of the day saw our participants busy with some deep thinking. More than one hundred wishes were generated and stuck to the walls of the ICA studio – some as specific as wishing that fringe theatre was promoted more; other as broad as wishing that all schools had a dedicated arts department that is not sidelined.
For us at A New Direction, these co-creation workshops not only represented a real step forward from the original research but also gave us an important steer on where to channel our efforts and those of the rest of the sector. Over the next few months we will be working on shaping, refining and testing some of these ideas further and finding potential contexts for them to grow.
You can find a detailed account of both the young people’s and the cultural sector’s representatives workshops and ideas by clicking on the links below and also on the side of this page.