Guest Blog by Holly Beaumont-Wilkes

1969132_10152674295817388_1324597657_nThe Youth Arts, Culture and Heritage Event aimed to provide young people across the West Midlands with a forum for debate about leadership and decision making opportunities in art, heritage and culture. Organised and run by Priority 5, an Arts Connect West Midlands pilot research project formed entirely of young people, ‘The Event’ also aimed to mobilise the next generation of young leaders by encouraging and inspiring them to have their say about local arts, heritage and culture.

1383793_10152674287787388_1507369606_nAs a Steering Group member, it was great to be part of a project that embraced young, creative talent instead of patronising or dismissing it. We were able to express our opinions and help create an event that we would actually want to attend. Young people were pressed to utilise their talents by taking control of different parts of the day, such as being in control of social media or designing the event space.

Special guests included Jake Orr, Artistic Director and Founder of A Younger Theatre, who spoke about his own experience of youth leadership and decision-making. We also had inspirational speeches from Anisa Haghdadi, Founder and CEO of Beatfreeks, and Dan Bridgewater, Founder and CEO of Fourth Wall Theatre Company. It was really motivating to hear speeches from young people who had already made their mark on the West Midlands arts, heritage and culture scene.

1234664_10152674289657388_1958559226_nThere were debates, workshops and performances throughout the day as well as opportunities for young people to share their stories and ideas. Arts, heritage and cultural organisations from across the West Midlands were also invited to provide information on volunteering, internships, apprenticeships and careers. The day was rounded off by an after party with an open mic that showcased local talent.

‘The Event’ was a truly inspiring day packed full of passionate young people who were dedicated to help shape the future of arts, culture and heritage across the West Midlands. It made me feel like my opinions do truly matter by creating a safe medium in which I could share them. It has inspired me to continue to look for leadership opportunities in this sector as I now believe my skills and experiences are valuable, and can help to make a difference. I am very proud of everyone who worked so hard to make this event happen, and very privileged to have been given the opportunity to be a part of this project.

If you would like to join the Steering Group and be part of the movement, please contact Ruth Richardson on Ruth.Richardson@wlv.ac.uk or 07837 734275 for more information.