Dr Nick Owen MBE PLUS

Working in and on the Business of Cultural Education

…  44 .. …  ..  … Big …. ..: Reimaginings

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On 26 October 2022, Arts Council England will announce the results of their long-awaited investment decisions into which arts and cultural organisations have been successful in their applications to become National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) or Investment Principles Support Organisations (IPSOs) between 2023 and 2026. The Mighty Creatives are in the same position as everyone else in the sector and are ready for the email on 26 October which will tell us about what our relationship with Arts Council England will be over the next 3 years.  

So, in the meantime, in the spirit of hoping for the best but planning for the worst, here’s another reflection which highlights some of the amazing work the charity has done for children and young people in the East Midlands over the last ten years.

Today’s reflection: Inspiring – Rare – Community – Beneficial – Resourceful

“At the beginning of this journey all I had was a vision and a small voice, hoping to be heard. Now seeing that vision come into fruition, I believe that my voice has been amplified and I hope that it will also amplify the voices and stories of the people who get involved with the project.”

These are the powerful words of one of the young people who have benefitted from The Mighty Creatives’ Young Empowerment Fund setup as part of our response to the Covid-19 pandemic back in 2020 and which we’re here today to celebrate.

The Young Empowerment Fund threw down a challenge to young people across the East Midlands:  how can you respond creatively to the challenges the pandemic presents for the benefit of your communities?

If we had any doubts back then that young people could respond creatively given the immense pressures on their education, their families and their mental health, these doubts were rapidly washed away by the desire they showed to see a better life through their creativity, imagination, and vision.

Since the beginning of the fund, 44 inspiring projects have blossomed over three rounds of the programme. Our young people have engaged a diverse range of art forms including music, performance, poetry, writing, websites, community art, drama and so much more. 

They have worked with our staff, freelance creative practitioners, and artists and in doing so, have helped those who have been working in the cultural sector itself, to financially navigate their own routes through the employment pressures caused by the pandemic.

Today provides us with the opportunity to congratulate all the young people involved – those here today and those who are unable to attend – on what they have achieved.  

Not through Zoom, not through Teams, not through WhatsApp, but in the here and now, face to face.  It’s been a long time coming and I hope you are as thrilled as we are that we can share their achievements with you. As well as the displays, you’ll also be able to enjoy some performances too.  Refreshments are available throughout the afternoon at Gray’s café – located over there – so please enjoy their fabulous food offer as well.

More recently we asked our participants to sum up their experiences of the Young Empowerment Fund in five words and they responded with the following:

Inspiring – Rare – Community – Beneficial – Resourceful

So, today please take this opportunity to browse through their creative work, talk to them about their projects and see how beneficial their work has been for themselves and their communities.   You’ll see for yourself too how resourceful they have been and be touched by that rarest of qualities: the ability to creatively respond to personal challenges and forge a new vision from those challenges.

Our vision here at TMC is simple: it’s to inspire children and young people to harness the power of arts, creativity and culture for positive change: and I am sure that today, you will witness first-hand how our young people have harnessed their artistic powers for all kinds of positive change.

The official launch of Round 4 will be later this afternoon, but in the meantime, I want to leave you some final words from one young person about the effect the Young Empowerment Fund had on them:

“I have met new people and made new connections.”

Which, in our ever-challenging world of mental health distress, dissolving community and heightened political tension is a fantastic testimony to the power that the arts and culture can have on all our lives.  Thank you.

(Extract from welcome speech at the Young Empowerment Fund Celebration event, LCB Depot, Leicester, 26 March 2022)

The Mighty Creatives staff team took part in the Mighty (UN)Mute, a day-long vow of silence, on 5th October 2022. You can check out the campaign here or donate your support to it here.

Or if neither of these is possible (and heaven knows we’re all in tough financial times right now), then anything you can do to share and shout about the campaign would be equally welcomed and appreciated.

Author: drnicko

Awarded an MBE for services to arts-based businesses, I am passionate about generating inspiring, socially engaging, creative practice within educational contexts both nationally and internationally.

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