An event produced by Our Future City.
The event was held at the new Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts at the University of Sussex; the new, modern hub was a perfect setting to unite forward-thinking minds with the vision of celebrating and discussing the beneficial impact of the creative arts on young people.
The evening started with a performance from Miss Represented; a group of strong young women bought together to ‘develop their self-worth, build resilience and discover purpose and passions’ through drama and other forms of art. The 30 minute play was emotional and hard hitting, with the girls characters reading extracts from their diaries, accompanied by screenings of their own short films, and musical performances. The highlight of the show, was when a young woman, previously hidden behind her long, flowing hair, stood up to perform a song she had written about her struggles with being a teenager - the song was raw and authentic, and the girl showed great talent, along with all the other stars of Miss Represented. After the performance, the audience members were invited to a workshop led by Miss Represented; after a short introduction we were offered a post it note and told we could write down a ‘worry’, the post it notes were then swapped around and we were to write a response to another's worry on the other side of the post it notes, the notes would then be displayed at the end of the session. It was clear to see the massive importance that Miss Represented holds for these young women. The creative arts gives them a passage to express themselves, and the people and space of Miss Represented gives them the support and encouragement to do so.
After the workshop, the audience was free to explore the building, and take a look at the several stalls that were laid out by partnering companies including; Modelling Change, Turner Contemporary and Little Green Pig. This wander offered glimpses into how the creative arts improves the wellbeing of young people through the help of several organisations.
The final performance of the night was a delightful show, performed by Glyndebourne Youth Opera. The choir was diverse, bringing together a range of ages, genders and backgrounds to perform a bespoke opera telling the story of a young boy, Pierre, who needed to be reminded by his school friends why life was worth living. The amazing voices that came from these ‘ordinary’ young people werefantastic and the professionalism of the young people was very admirable. The school children clearly cared deeply about the project and had worked very hard to create such a show.
After the show, the panel and audience discussed the correlation between involvement in the arts and the wellbeing of young people. Everyone agreed that the arts are integral to improving the lives young people, and that this needs to be realised by the funding and educational systems.
Written by Hattie Upton-Dance