The Geraldine Connor Foundation (GCF) in collaboration with IVE and Leeds City College delivered a 12 week pilot scheme, cultural connections, that aimed to connect 6 young people in Leeds with arts professionals working in the city.
The cultural connections scheme ran from the 30th May – 22nd August 2017 on behalf of the Leeds Grand Futures network. The main priority was to help aid the young person’s progression by helping them build new connections between large and small scale cultural providers in Leeds. Using positive action to target young people aged between 13 and 25 years we promoted both performance and non-performance roles based on the young person’s interest.
With a current lack of representation in the arts and culture industry, this scheme focused its effort on selecting young people from diverse backgrounds particularly BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic), people with disabilities and those with challenging social and economic circumstances.
An email was sent out to arts organisations and key contacts to refer over any young people that were suitable for the cultural connections programme. Six young people were then identified and referred to the Geraldine Connor Foundation through the Grand Futures network, GCF programmes, small arts organisations and secondary school tutors.
A meeting was arranged between a member of the Geraldine Connor Foundation and the young person to find out how the programme could be tailored to suit their individual needs and interests. This stage included a conversation with the young person, completion of a questionnaire/semi-structured interview and the creation of a profile. If the young person was under the age of 18, the parent/guardian had the option to sit in on the meeting. The conversation also focused on the range of performance/non-performance roles in the arts industry that are available.
After collating the information from the interview, GCF contacted appropriate arts professionals for the young people to talk to and consideration was given to the young person’s age, level of skill and area of interest. In the pilot programme the request was initially made to the Grand Futures Network. Upon receiving a positive response, GCF briefed the arts professional about the young person, the format of the conversation and potential future opportunities.
GCF then co-ordinated a meeting between the young person, the arts professional and a member of staff from GCF. The meeting usually took place at the organisation/company that the professional worked at as it gave the young person a feel of the work environment. The conversation lasted around an hour and the young person was able to ask any questions that they prepared beforehand.
A follow-up conversation was arranged with the young person to discuss their next steps as well as find out what they have learnt. The young person and member of GCF agreed to a progress action plan that will be monitored.
I feel that the programme has really helped me dive in and take glimpse into the industry as well as show me how I can make connections in it. I was very excited when I was approached and asked if I would like to take part in this programme and that feeling has never left. I have always looked forward to going to these suggested places in addition to meeting all different kinds of people involved in the industry. Getting to ask them questions combined with talking to them as well as see their work is amazing and has likewise really helped educate me. I feel that this opportunity has really helped me with the advice I’ve been given about connections in the industry and advice on ways to gain more experience through classes and companies. Along with this knowledge I hope to keep going both inside and outside education along with making more connections, looking for more work and improving on my skills both as an actor, writer and entertainer. I couldn’t be more thankful and I look forward to the future.
In my experience so far I have found this programme to be very helpful as it has helped me achiev what I needed in this period of time. This programme really focused on young people’s ambition and talents in the creative arts. Connecting and working with professionals to discuss what is required as a young artist has been very insightful. This opportunity allowed me to see how the industry works as well as think about my skills and what I can bring to the table. During this scheme, I have realised that I have been spending more time searching for ways to improve myself and to gain new skills, which is great, but I have focused too much on this rather than utilising the skills I already have and working on those first.
At this moment of time, it would be great to have a solid training in place to learn about the business aspect of the creative industry. Overall, this has been a great opportunity which has provided me with an insight on how the industry works and ponder upon asking the right questions professionals to drive me in the right direction to receive the best end result. I hope by the end of this 12-week programme, I am able more confidently able to utilise what I already have, think things through in more detail, continue planning and creating projects, etc. as well as remove any barriers that I face.
I have found this programme helpful as it has given me the chance to see what options are available to me when leaving school. It has also provided me with a better understanding for what career/college path I would like to go down. Visiting the Northern Ballet and getting a tour of the wardrobe department allowed me to physically see how an organisation works in the arts industry rather than being told what it is like.
Since the launch of this pilot, IVE has continued to take steps to develop a Talent Development Programme to provide young people with opportunities to develop their creative & artistic abilities and progress into creative career paths.
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