The Speculative Futures arts programme will centre the voices and experiences of young people in St Helens and explore and create meaningful arts experiences and co-creation opportunities for young people and arts practitioners including enquiry-led commissions, co-curated events and learning resources.
We’re especially excited to be continuing to work with local partners, especially building on our work in Parr, St Helens and with artists who are committed to working collaboratively to create artworks that centre the voices and experiences of young people. The experience of making this work will also create learning we endeavour to share with partners and the sector so that we can support better access to the arts, and sustain careers in the arts for young people and artists.
We have identified key areas of focus for the programme based on our work to date. This includes an exploration of the challenges and complexities of class, gender, inequality and disadvantage in relation to access to arts and cultural provision and more broadly in civic life. We anticipate the programme will evolve and reconfigure in response as projects develop and new knowledge emerges.
Some key areas we will be exploring include:
How, with young people, can we create new opportunities for young people in St Helens to share their voice, generate new forms of community knowledge and challenge perceptions through art projects?
How can we support the work of artists who may experience inequality, discrimination and barriers to arts careers so that they can develop their practice, knowledge and skills in creating high quality and meaningful work with young people?
How can we create opportunities to open up conversations between young people in St Helens and decision makers so that young people’s experiences and voices have the opportunity to influence and shape the future of the place they call home?
Some of the artists and organisations we are developing new, exploratory collaborations with include:
London born and bred, Kelly is a working-class, queer, neurodivergent mum and performance artist; a noisy, feisty, hot mess. Her performance work is fun, interactive and always about class. She has made two solo shows: CHAV (2018) and SLAG (2019), and was the artist-in-residence with LADA and Canterbury Christ Church University (2016-2019) for their 3-year programme with Tate Exchange exploring class, social privilege and live art with young people from Dover and Wales.
Fox Irving is a Southern based, Liverpool born, working class artist. Their art is shaped by the liminal, precarious identity they inhabit as queer/femme/working class. With a playful, DIY approach informed by activist strategies and centering collaboration, Fox investigates how art can be used by marginalised communities that they are part of as a tool of empowerment.
Fiona Whelan (artist, writer and educator), Feidlim Cannon and Gary Keegan (Brokentalkers theatre company) and Rialto Youth Project (a Dublin based youth organisation), and their collaborative project What Does He Need?
What Does He Need? is a long-term project exploring how men and boys are shaped by and influence the world they live in. Emerging at the intersection of collaborative arts practice, performance and youth work, this multi-faceted project was established in 2018 and has since developed multiple creative approaches for engaging with communities and publics including immersive workshops, programmes, public artworks and performances. Through artistic and pedagogical methods, the project aims to create a significant public dialogue about the current state of masculinity.
Over the next three years we will be adding to the list of artists and partners. Sign up to our newsletter, and follow our socials to find out more.
Image credit: I AM ME, Sophie Mahon, 2021. Photo by Radka Dolinska. Support by Paul Hamlyn Foundation.