That ‘arts and culture’ as a term does not resonates with young people or is used by them to describe the activities that they engage with (see this recent post) was also found in this ethnographic study by A New Direction.
The study is a few years old and was done with young Londoners, but I found some of the findings about how they define culture, the role of friends, life stages and what happens underneath rational barriers really useful to generally understand young people’s engagement with culture better and still relevant today.
The British Museum and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation run a new UK-wide national programme for people aged 18–24. They invite local cultural and third sector organisations as key partners, who then recruit young people to co-design and deliver projects that are unique to their locality and respond to a community need identified by the young people.
The main aims of this programme called “Where we are…” are “to remove some of the barriers to engagement that young people face within the cultural sector, and to create a sense of agency in young people that can be reflected into their communities”.
Interestingly, the programme takes a broad definition of ‘culture’ building on how young people defined culture in the scoping stage of the project: food, festivals and friendship rather than paintings, theatre or exhibitions.
“We Belong” is a programme to tackle loneliness and empower children in care aged 11-18 run in a borough of London. In this case study and practical guide the team shares insights into what they learnt on their journey and their top tips for creating participatory programmes in the digital sphere. Lockdowns required agility and a supportive community, especially when working with vulnerable young people. They had to restructure the programme to online delivery and create a one week digital residency during half term.