‘What’s the Story?’ is a multi-media arts project that encouraged young people to express their ideas around community pride, diversity and culture by writing and illustrating a collection of Shared Stories. The project was funded by The Executive Office’s T:BUC strategy and first kicked off in July 2021 with the addition of Tanya Kearns as Carnival School Development Worker to Beat Carnival’s team. Along with local community artists, Tanya facilitated outreach workshops around schools and community groups in North and West Belfast to talk to young people aged 10-18 about Good Relations and Carnival Arts. From these outreach sessions, a collective of young people gathered at Beat Carnival Centre for the core weekly programme.
The young people’s expression of community and shared culture was fresh and inspiring. Their affiliation with community didn’t particularly relate to geographical location, culture or inherited ideas of ‘other’, instead the young people felt part of a community of artists whilst attending our project, and wished to express their skills within our safe space.
“The group has become like my wee family! I just love having a place where I can feel safe to be myself and just let myself be creative. It’s just really been a great time for us.”Participant
The published ‘What’s the Story?’ collection of short stories is vibrant, diverse and fun; capturing the spirit of the project and participants. Facilitated by Ray (FGB), our young people also painted an indoor mural to reflect their individual identities that make up a shared story.
“I’ve really enjoyed this project – both the book and the mural for opposite reasons. The book takes each of us separately and shows our strong points but the mural shows us altogether and really ties in with the theme of community. But it’s really the people that have made this the best that it could be. I’ve really enjoyed coming here every week. Everyone’s been really kind and sweet. I’m really excited to continue!”Participant
We, alongside the young people, their families, our local communities and schools have showcased and celebrated the projects work. It is thought of as an innovative piece of visual art that symbolises young talent emerging in Belfast’s community of Visual Artists. Thank you to all the artists, schools, groups and participants we worked with over the project.
“It has been my absolute pleasure to carry out WTS Project and work alongside such passionate and enthusiastic young people, bursting with creativity. I have watched our young people come together and grow as individuals, as a group, and as young artists. I have no doubt that we host some of Belfasts most talented young people. Myself working with a team of fantastic community artists have created a fun, safe and creative space for young people, who feel able to form relationships, explore artistic talents and express ideas on important social issues. Young people are the voices of our future and deserve an outlet to be heard and celebrated. I can’t wait to see what they do next!”Tanya Kearns – Carnival School Development Worker