We were delighted to host the launch of the Arts Council’s Youth Arts Strategy for Northern Ireland (PDF download link) here at the Beat Carnival Centre. The new strategy provides strategic direction and vision for the youth arts sector for the period from 2013 to 2017. It’s aim is to “promote access to high quality and affordable arts activities for all under 24s, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or disability”.
It focuses on the development of young people in various areas, through the development of Health & Wellbeing programme, apprenticeships, internships and mentoring opportunities. The Health & Wellbeing Programme will attempt to reach some of these most disadvantaged and isolated young people in society through creative activities. With over a fifth of children under 18 in Northern Ireland suffering significant mental health problems, the new programme will encourage the use of the arts in promoting wellbeing in children and young people.
Alongside the Creative and Culture Skills Sector, NI’s sector skills body for Performing & Creative Arts, the Arts Council will be helping to deliver apprenticeships, internships and mentoring opportunities for young people interested in a career in the arts, including those who’ve historically struggled to find employment.
Participants in our BeatStyle youth carnival arts training programme and Carnival Arts Apprentice scheme have gone on to find work within the youth/arts sector, or to study arts-related subjects at university. Beat Carnival director David Boyd said of the new Youth Arts Strategy: “Engaging with young people in the Beat Carnival programmes throughout the past two decades, I have seen how inspirational, relevant, creative arts activity addresses needs and enables dreams of young people across our diverse communities. I have seen the long-term benefits for their lives, including new pathways to education and work. I’m very pleased to have an important Youth Arts Strategy designed to support us in this area of arts and social action expertise for which Northern Ireland has gained particular international recognition.”
Nick Livingston, Director of Strategic Development at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said:
“As a an organisation that recognises the value and power that the arts and creativity can have on children and young people in all aspects of their lives, we are delighted to be able to launch our Youth Arts Strategy. The strategy is a realistic vision of how we see inclusion in and access to the arts making a real difference.”
The Youth Arts Strategy was developed following an extensive programme of research involving direct consultation with children, young people and key stakeholders working in the statutory, voluntary and community sectors across Northern Ireland. Carál Ní Chuilín, Minister of Culture, Arts & Leisure, commented: “The Youth Arts strategy is an important document, for the arts sector, in helping to ensure it meets the needs of all young people. I am therefore glad that as well as consulting key stakeholders within the different sectors we also consulted those people the strategy directly affects, the children and young people themselves.
“The key priorities of the strategy involve developing the many existing networks within community groups and education providers to help ensure we continue to build on the work being done and make high quality arts provision available to everyone. The development of provision both in early year’s settings and apprenticeships later in life will contribute in bridging gaps and helping to promote equality and tackle social exclusion and poverty.”
June Trimble MBE, Director of Youth Action Northern Ireland, a regional voluntary youth charity that champions the performing arts to build resilience and leadership in young people, added:
“I am delighted to see the launch of a Youth Arts Strategy for Northern Ireland. It’s a helpful and meaningful document that provides necessary guidance and support for those of us working in this sector and will deliver meaningful outcomes for young people. I particularly commend the aspiration of the document to contribute to a flourishing youth population. Suitcase Theatre is one of our issue based, youth theatre projects. Our recent piece, “Circus: behind the curtain” is an example of how performing and allied arts can successfully assist young people to understand the benefits of positive mental health and to develop strategies to cope with the challenges of everyday living.
The full Youth Arts Strategy is available here