Creating Change is a three-year collaboration between BALTIC and three Gateshead Secondary Schools. BALTIC is working with the same cohort of young people through years 7, 8 and 9 to co-design creative social action projects that respond to and tackle social issues.
Creating Change is part of #iwill, a national campaign to embed a culture of meaningful social action in the lives of young people across the UK. #iwill aims to inspire 6 out of 10 young people to make a positive difference to their communities by engaging with activities such as campaigning, fundraising and volunteering.
BALTIC received funding in 2017 to work with young people from Gateshead through their first three years of secondary school to co-produce innovative contemporary art projects in collaboration with professional artists that explore social and political issues and campaign for change. Creating Change aims to empower 2,000 young people in Gateshead to use contemporary art, co-created with inspirational artists, to make a positive difference. The programme strives to forge sustainable connections between young people and their communities so that they continue to campaign, help and support others into the future. Young people involved in Creating Change are encouraged to celebrate their Northern identity, believe in themselves and develop the skills and creativity needed to make the change they want to see in the world.
The three Creating Change partner schools, Grace College, Heworth Grange School and Cardinal Hume Catholic School, are all located within 5 miles of BALTIC. The partnership aims to address barriers to cultural access, working with young people who were least likely to engage with cultural activity outside of school.
Creating Changes aims to engage with as many young people as possible within each of the three schools. Taster workshops are offered to each year group, and trips to BALTIC, along with other cultural venues, take place both during curriculum time and after-school clubs – allowing as many young people to take part as possible. The project aims to ensure every pupil in the cohort is aware of the programme and that those facing barriers to participation have a range of opportunities to take part.
Across the three year programme, BALTIC continues to refine its approach so that it has the most impact for young people, and they have clear routes for progression and can engage in a way that is right for them. As part of the programme, any young person who shows an interest is signposted to join an after-school group where they are supported to develop skills to take a lead on projects and design activity.
Each term BALTIC programmes a range of projects in school and, increasingly, young people programme activity themselves. Through Creating Change young people have had the opportunity to experiment with a range of art forms including dance, performance, sculpture, ceramics, film making, photography, paper-cutting, print making, graphic design, textile design, sound art, digital art, animation and developing creative ways of communicating.
Through Creating Change, trusting relationships have developed between young people, producers and artists; as they listen to each other’s ideas and become acquainted with the potential of contemporary art and the meaning of social action. Through the process, young people have been empowered to take responsibility so that rather than being participants, they are co-producers in the projects.
For Creating Change, the approach to working with young people is to value their knowledge and unique experience, listen to their ideas and act on their concerns. They don’t always have all the information they need to tackle the issues that they face and they can feel powerless about how to make change happen but they care about the world around them and are passionate about injustice when they see it. Where young people express an interest in big global issues such as gender inequality, global warming or animal rights, the project builds on that interest and what they already know to support them to learn more and develop an awareness of different perspectives.
To find out more about Creating Change projects, follow @creatingchangenorth on Instagram.