Artist Blog #1 ‘Young Voices’

Emerge Blog #1 1st December 2018

Young Voices
Having grown up in an area with very little arts engagement and within a school which didn’t back the arts, preventing me to take up any drama classes because I was ‘too intelligent’ meant that projects like Emerge were right up my street. To be able to facilitate workshops and aid in the production of a festival in areas with low arts engagement means the world and if I can give even one child the opportunity to work in a way which suits them and find a passion for a hobby or even a career to make a difference then I have done my job.

I have quite a lot of experience with young people, however I have never had to create pieces with young people and take into considering their arts awards – which sometimes can put barriers up and prevent moving forward with creating work – equally though it takes down other barriers and gives young people a bigger voice in their ideas and creativity. Through that process I have had to really evaluate certain situations depending the rank of arts awards some of the children are at and deliver sessions accordingly. For example, those doing gold arts awards need to make sure that they take almost complete ownership on what it is they are creating as a result I have had to plan sessions which are very loosely based and require them to become creative and responsive after which I can aid them in shaping something.

Bronze arts awards however is slightly more simple in that I can come up with a concept and direct the students a lot more but getting them to think critically about how to improve what it is they are doing, in turn giving them a voice but in the initial stages they are much more reliant on me to come up with themes and suggestions and how to move forward.

Regardless of the barriers Arts Awards bring, the positives really outweigh those negatives and what is very apparent is how it offers young people the chance to be heard. During the sessions I am making sure I take the time to talk to one or two different young people and ask them various questions regarding the arts. What has come to light is the importance of the arts and how it helps certain individuals.

Dani – 17
The arts have helped me a lot in discovering who I am as a person and the type of people I want to be around. Taking on those characters make me realise what traits I need or don’t need in order to change to be a better person. It helps with self-expression which Is very important for everyone as people these days tend to bottle up emotions and the arts is a way to express them without being judged

Constance – 12
Arts are important because it’s a way to express your feelings and yourself. Let yourself be creative and free with your work. I know some of my friends it helps with escaping or just like to tell and let their anger out. My main like drama and music and Emerge for drama but I play the saxophone in school time and mentor for the students who do it too. It’s given me leadership skills.

Olivia –
Arts make me, they are a part of me and without them I wouldn’t be myself.

Alarna – 18
The arts have helped me a lot because as a teenager you go through difficulties, the arts can take my mind off these things. In a way it’s helped me to express the way I feel about these things going on in my life. It’s something I have been involved in since I was little, about 2 -3, it’s all I know. I’m not a very logical person. More of a creative person. It’s how I speak, how I think, breathe.

Gurgina – 15
Dance is my main art form because I have been doing it since I was a kid and I love it. It’s me and it makes me happy. It’s my comfort zone. Emerge is important too. It’s something that people can see and it’s really nice to see other people enjoy what you are doing. It makes you improve as well by seeing others. It forces me to improve and I’m not as worried when others are around.

It’s refreshing hearing all these responses, even from such young individuals, about what the arts mean to them. Hopefully through the Emerge project we can keep these passions alive and have a knock-on effect even afterwards to change their lives. The arts offer so much to individuals and us all as a society, it helps to challenge people and topics, to inspire, to communicate in various other ways and help towards a positive change in the world and without them, the world would be a very different and mundane place.

Aaron Belcher
Resident Artist for Emerge Festival Dudley 2019