Hiya to the youth work fraternity!
Here is my tuppence worth, on my experience of delivering arts based programmes and why I think it is an important methodology for working with young people:
A lot of people will react to the mention of the arts like herself in the cartoon above, sometimes it isn’t taken too seriously and quite often one is met with “ oh that arty farty stuff, sure they’re all a bit airy fairy”. I never allowed such thinking to prevent me delivering programmes.
I suppose I always had an interest in the Arts. My late Mam painted and wrote and it probably stimulated an interest in me from an early age. I like the freedom it gives one to express so many different emotions and feelings in a creative way and the myriad of issues one can explore using it.
I was very fortunate, particularly in my 20 years working with CYC, that I had the freedom to explore Youth Arts as a medium to work, in my case, with volunteers and youth workers from the Inner city. The methodologies I employed included drama, photography, stained glass, clay work, puppetry, cartoon making, music, crafts and an incredible project called Expanding dance, based on the Laban Guild Model, which I conceived with Kevin Murphy, a contemporary dance maestro. This project was one of the first youth arts projects in Ireland to be funded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.
All of these projects empowered the youth workers, to deliver programmes with their young people, provided them with new skills and showed them that there is a natural affinity between the processes involved in quality youth arts work and good youth work practice. We also explored how it can allow young people, to develop a critical attitude towards society and to both question and celebrate through participating in the arts.
Now down to the nitty gritty; the guidelines needed to ensure a successful Youth Arts project, and a successful collaboration of youth worker, artist and young person.
- Establish a good support structure.
- Agree on roles and responsibilities.
- Clear aims and objectives. A youth worker’s view on how the project is run may differ from the artist’s and this must be clarified from the beginning.
- Young person centred, the focus of the project should reflect their needs and interests.
- Young person’s participation in planning and decision making from the outset.
- Set out a defined timeframe.
- Logistics; budget, plans, venues, times, documentation.
- Planning, Implementation and review.
- Child protection guidelines and Garda vetting must be implemented.
- Clear outcomes that are practical and relevant.
- Have fun.
One has to have fun doing all of this work and it plays a big part here in the Talk About Youth project, which has and always had a vibrant Youth Arts scene. I would like to thank NYCI and Niamh for providing us with the opportunity to do this series of blogs and to Irma Grothius for her support with the process.
“The arts are not just a nice thing to have or to do if there is free time, rather paintings and poetry, music and fashion, design and dialogue all define who we are as a people and provide an account of our history for the next generation”.