Transforming Lives: young people, art and the city

Lead Research Organisation: Queen Mary, University of London
Department Name: Drama

Abstract

Transforming Lives: young people, art and the city. An interactive, audio-visual immersive installation that investigates and celebrates how young people transform their worlds through the arts. The Follow-On research asks two questions:

* If we were to create a live audio-visual and interactive exhibition drawing on multidisciplinary debates to illustrate and investigate how young people transform their worlds through the arts, what would it look, feel and sound like?
* how can we stimulate and enrich knowledge exchange about the relationship between art and civil society within the context of the emerging Olympic cultural dialogue between London and Rio de Janeiro?

The aim of the research is to enable young people to archive and to represent the ways in which they transform their lives and their cities through the art they make. Transforming Lives seeks to link the values of young people's transformational artistic practices with the ideals of the Olympic movement and thereby connect Beyond Text to Olympic themes of cultural dialogue, sustainability, unlimited possibilities for disabled people and the 'Olympic Truce'. The research brings together young people making art with ideas about how art transforms lives, and finds innovative ways to express what can be made from that encounter. Art work by young people is too often lost and unrecognised for its achievements in bringing about real change in people's lives.

This original interactive installation is produced and curated by young people who have documented their own work and the work of other young people. It will re-present the experiences and histories of young people in Britain and Brazil, creating a platform for debate and celebration. The interactive technologies developed during the research enable new material to be collected from the general public who visit the installation in each location so that Transforming Lives is shaped and curated in different ways as it travels. The installation will be seen in Gateshead, Salisbury and London in 2011 before travelling back to Rio de Janeiro where it was first developed in January 2012. At each location there will be a seminar for senior representatives from agencies that work with young people in the city, each time with a focus related to one of the key themes from the Cultural Olympics.

There will be a final seminar in London for cultural policy makers, representatives from foundations which focus on arts and social justice, and senior directors of arts organisations that work with young people.

Partners:
This Follow-On project is a collaboration between People's Palace Projects [a practice-based arts research centre at Queen Mary, University of London], Lawnmowers Theatre Company [a national organisation for people with Learning Difficulties based in Gateshead], and Salisbury International Arts Festival.

Spectaculu [a graphic/scenic design school for young people from peripheral communities in Rio de Janeiro] is a collaborator on the original Transforming Lives project and will host and support the return of the project to Rio in 2012 [financial support not required as part of this Follow-On application]. Their support and commitment, demonstrated in their Letter of Support, is essential to the impact of the project and the success of the cultural exchange, but they will not be committing resources to the UK work outlined in this Follow-On application.

Planned Impact

Heritage[PI] and People's Palace Projects [Project Partner] are in an excellent position to ensure diverse and effective pathways to impact for this research.
* Impact on individuals and communities: the first phase of this research has demonstrated that the audio-visual immersive environment of TRANSFORMING LIVES has a powerful effect on those who experience and interact with it in each location. It has a strong impact on the communities where it is installed as it reproduces and represents each site through its installation, with young people documenting and archiving images, sounds and histories from the community that are in turn incorporated into the exhibition. Each location is chosen because it has specific meanings that will enhance the impact of the installation on those who are invited to create and to visit. It has a direct impact on social and cultural lives.
* Impact on young people: through their active participation in the creation of the installation, young people from peripheral communities in UK/Brazil will acquire new skills and understanding relevant to future employment and/or their own artistic development. The experience and practice of this project is focused on articulating and enhancing the creative output of those who are often excluded from mainstream arts platforms and thus enriching civil society.
* Impact on those who work with young people: the regional seminars run by the project partners [People's Palace Projects/Spectaculu/Lawnmowers/Salisbury Festival/Somerset House], TRANSFORMING LIVES will explore new possibilities and perspectives through the seminars organised with each installation for arts organisations and agencies that work with young people. The understandings and knowledge exchange at the heart of this project will help to increase the effectiveness of policy and practice with young people, and the proposed follow-on activities are structured to achieve multi-agency impact through the involvement of senior representatives from health, education, public security, and social services at each regional seminar.
* Impact on Government and Non-Government agencies and Foundations: the final seminar in London will focus specifically on drawing a range of policy makers together to look at the learning exchange of the research and discuss implications for policy and practice. Heritage[P1] will write a brief report which will be distributed by People's Palace Projects through its usual networks [academic and non-academic].
* Impact on UK/Brazil cultural relations: The Department of Culture, Media and Sport has recently reinstated its intention to reinforce the UK's international reputation for artistic excellence, and has specifically requested the support of the Arts Council England in building artistic engagement with Brazil, through close partnership work with Government, the British Council and UKTI.
[see http://www.culture.gov.uk/images/publications/Forgan_ACE.pdf]. Heritage[PI] has an active role in the process of forging these partnerships in his current work with DCMS, Arts Council, British Council, Brazilian Ministry of Culture and FUNARTE [Brazilian Arts Council]. He will therefore be able to ensure an wide impact for this proposed research by disseminating its outputs across an existing network of partners in the field of cultural policy as well as a growing number of UK arts organisations with a strong interest in establishing links with Brazil. In addition, Heritage has recently begun working with the coordinating team for Rio2016 in the Brazilian Ministry of Sport, to build a coherent and shared cultural strategy with London2012. The outputs from the follow-on activities of TRANSFORMING LIVES will focus directly on the themes and values of both cities as they seek ways to create these connections, ensuring a potential impact for the research that goes well beyond a

Publications

10 25 50
 
Title 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning 
Description Young people from South London created an installation with 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning (an organisation that provides a platform for contemporary artists from diverse cultural backgrounds) and a group of young photographers from Syria, Iraq and Palestine. This installation was played live on the evening but also installed for a week in the gallery for people to visit. Alongside the performance was an exhibition of photos from Syria and London by the participants. These installations explored how London functions as a culturally diverse city while looking at its history of migration especially in relation to their lives. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2011 
Impact There were two performances; one included all participants (Londoners, Syrians, Palestinians and Iraqis) in a pizza restaurant in Brixton Market, while the second performance was at the 198 Gallery and had approximately 60 audience members. 
URL http://www.encountersbeyondtext.com/category/actions/london/
 
Title Sao Paulo workshops 
Description In April 2012 12 young people and 3 project assistants in 10 workshops attracted approximately 70 audience members to the final showing at a local arts centre. A further series of workshops took place in November 2012 in São Paulo. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2012 
Impact Young people, mentored and facilitated by Paul Heritage (academic) and Gary Stewart (contemporary artist), with support from two of the emerging artists from the earlier Rio phase, were enabled to engage in public debate exploring themes of territory, active citizenship and political engagement. Performances took place at Capão Redondo (March 2012, final showing attended by apx. 70 people); and at Indaiatuba, Capão Redondo and Bixiga (November 2012). Recordings of their final installations can be played at the URL below. 
URL http://www.encountersbeyondtext.com/category/actions/saopaulo/
 
Title The Lawnmowers Theatre Company 
Description A new installation created by members of this theatre company run for and by people with learning disabilities 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2011 
Impact Mentored and facilitated by Paul Heritage (academic), Sylvan Baker (academic) and Gary Stewart (contemporary artist), artists with learning disabilities were enabled to engage in public debate exploring themes of visibility and the right to cultural expression. The performances took place at The Lawnmowers (October 2011) and at a Krokodile Krew Club night (November 2011). Photographic documentation of their process can be seen at the URL below. 
URL http://www.encountersbeyondtext.com/category/actions/gateshead/
 
Description 1. Digital media installation software provides a unique performance research platform for young people to explore concepts of narrative, metaphor, and aesthetics in relation to re-thinking, reflecting and re-mixing their own social realities.


2. The exploration of digital media installation software and archiving enables a particular and democratic means of communication and knowledge transfer between young people, artists and researchers from different countries and backgrounds.


3. Creation of a series of live visual and interactive exhibitions that investigate how young people un-fix and critique their worlds through art.
Exploitation Route Engagement with young people and their views - for instance GLA's invitation to an "Encounters" group to perform three of their live mixed installations at City Hall, London, as part of a discussion about the importance of youth services and policy for London.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Education,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL http://peoplespalaceprojects.org.uk/archive/encounters-beyond-text/
 
Description The Encounters methodology was used subsequent to the completion of the Follow-On Fund grant, to work with a group of British Asian young people, all Muslims, in East London. They chose to use the digital technology to engage their audience in a debate about their experience of Islamophobia and the ways it was affecting their lives as young Londoners and their participation in civic life. The performances were presented to an audience of apx. 80 people at City Hall, in a partnership with GLA Education & Outreach team, as part of an evening's presentation and policy discussion about the value of youth services and youth arts provision.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description Paul Heritage participation in AHRC GCRF Advisory Group
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
Impact Drawing on his experience of this and other collaborative international research, and in particular on the examination within this research project of the factors that make for a successful international exchange collaboration, Paul Heritage has served on the AHRC's Advisory Group for the Global Challenges Research Fund, participating in a Town Hall Meeting in November 2017 (making a presentation) and PPP sent 2 delegates to a recent residential meeting led by Naomi Sykes and Charles Forsdick that aimed to make recommendations / create information and advice resources about GCRF for AHRC, HEIs, peers among Arts and Humanities researchers, and the public.
 
Description Building resilience in adolescence - improving quality of life for adolescents with mental health problems in Colombia (BRiCs study)
Amount £438,896 (GBP)
Funding ID MR/S023674/1 
Organisation Medical Research Council (MRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2019 
End 10/2022
 
Description QMUL Centre for Public Engagement Small Awards 2015
Amount £1,000 (GBP)
Organisation Queen Mary University of London 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2015 
End 07/2016
 
Description 198 Contemporary 
Organisation 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Paul Heritage and the research team led the workshops with the young people, orienting the work around the research questions.
Collaborator Contribution 198 Contemporary provided working space and engaged a group of young people to participate.
Impact Eight installations created by the research collaborators and screened at 198 Contemporary in October 2012 are archived on the project website and accessible via the URL.
Start Year 2011
 
Description São Paulo Encounters partnership 
Organisation British Council
Department British Council in Brazil
Country Brazil 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The young research collaborators were mentored and facilitated by Paul Heritage (academic) and Gary Stewart (contemporary artist) to create installations with support from two of the emerging artists from the earlier Rio phase.
Collaborator Contribution Eight research groups from four São Paulo arts organisations (Bolha de Sabão, Cooperifa, Ninho Sansacroma, Teatro Oficina) participated in this phase of the project. The young people engaged in public debate exploring themes of territory, active citizenship and political engagement; and created a total of 8 installations.
Impact Eight installations Performances took place at Capão Redondo (March 2012); and at Indaiatuba, Capão Redondo and Bixiga (November 2012). Recordings of their final installations are archived on the project website and can be played at the URL listed.
Start Year 2011
 
Description São Paulo Encounters partnership 
Organisation Cooperifa
Country Brazil 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The young research collaborators were mentored and facilitated by Paul Heritage (academic) and Gary Stewart (contemporary artist) to create installations with support from two of the emerging artists from the earlier Rio phase.
Collaborator Contribution Eight research groups from four São Paulo arts organisations (Bolha de Sabão, Cooperifa, Ninho Sansacroma, Teatro Oficina) participated in this phase of the project. The young people engaged in public debate exploring themes of territory, active citizenship and political engagement; and created a total of 8 installations.
Impact Eight installations Performances took place at Capão Redondo (March 2012); and at Indaiatuba, Capão Redondo and Bixiga (November 2012). Recordings of their final installations are archived on the project website and can be played at the URL listed.
Start Year 2011
 
Description São Paulo Encounters partnership 
Organisation Teatro Oficina
Country Brazil 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution The young research collaborators were mentored and facilitated by Paul Heritage (academic) and Gary Stewart (contemporary artist) to create installations with support from two of the emerging artists from the earlier Rio phase.
Collaborator Contribution Eight research groups from four São Paulo arts organisations (Bolha de Sabão, Cooperifa, Ninho Sansacroma, Teatro Oficina) participated in this phase of the project. The young people engaged in public debate exploring themes of territory, active citizenship and political engagement; and created a total of 8 installations.
Impact Eight installations Performances took place at Capão Redondo (March 2012); and at Indaiatuba, Capão Redondo and Bixiga (November 2012). Recordings of their final installations are archived on the project website and can be played at the URL listed.
Start Year 2011
 
Description Salisbury International Arts Festival 
Organisation Salisbury International Arts Festival
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Paul Heritage, Gary Stewart and Sylvan Baker ran workshops with a small group of young people at Salisbury Festival.
Collaborator Contribution The young people produced 2 installations as part of the research project.
Impact 2 installations, archived to the project site 1 public event with Paul Heritage (speaking on favela-based arts organisations)
Start Year 2011
 
Description The Lawnmowers 
Organisation The Lawnmowers Independent Theatre Co
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Paul Heritage, Gary Stewart and Sylvan Baker ran workshops for members of The Lawnmowers Independent Theatre Company, adapting the methodology for accessibility to people with a range of learning disabilities.
Collaborator Contribution Members of the group created a range of installations, particularly focusing on the dynamic of exclusion.
Impact The installations created were screened at the workshop sessions and again in the Krokodile Klub monthly nightclub session.
Start Year 2010
 
Description Encounters Debate 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A platform discussion held with the lead artist Gary Stewart, PI Paul Heritage and members of the groups who have performed the installation during the project. Opening up possibilities for how we might develop this audio-visual platform and our methodologies in future encounters. The debate highlighted the project's successes, but also the realities of empowering young people to think critically and take responsibility for interrogating the relationship between research, policy and young people.

After the sharing, policymakers present (Arts Council England and GLA) reported the power of hearing young people talk about the work they had engaged in. Arts Council England had already agreed to incorporate future developments of the project as part of People's Palace Projects' core work in the National Portfolio from 2012-2015. When the research team reviewed the project, we concluded thatworking with a local group of young people and bringing them into the University campus had impacts for widening participation, beyond those we had looked for through the research, and we therefore took the decision to focus two future iterations of the project with school pupils and young people in the immediate locality of Tower Hamlets.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://www.encountersbeyondtext.com
 
Description Gateshead workshops 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact One research group from The Lawnmowers Independent Theatre Company in Gateshead participated in workshops and a performance. Mentored and facilitated by Paul Heritage (academic), Sylvan Baker (academic) and Gary Stewart (contemporary artist), artists with learning disabilities were enabled to engage in public debate exploring themes of visibility and the right to cultural expression.

The performances took place at The Lawnmowers (October 2011) and at a Krokodile Krew Club night (November 2011). Photographic documentation of their process can be seen below.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
URL http://www.encountersbeyondtext.com/category/actions/gateshead/
 
Description London workshops 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Two phases of the project took place in London under the first phase grant, where groups mentored and facilitated by Paul Heritage (academic), Gary Stewart (contemporary artist), Sylvan Baker (academic), Daniel Mathison-Johnson and Remi Stewart (emerging artists) were enabled to engage in public debate.

The themes explored by young research groups have included: Social invisibility and its relationship to social security (July 2010, Southbank Centre); censorship (April 2011, QMUL in partnership with Phakama). Photographic documentation of the work with Phakama can be found at the URL below.

Follow-On Funding and a small contribution from QMUL enabled further work on the themes of displacement and asylum (September 2012, 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning); citizenship and democracy (St. Paul's Way Trust School, June 2013); and gender, human rights, disability and criminal behaviour (The Arbour, installation December 2013, Rich Mix and again in August 2014, London City Hall as part of a final conference on young people and cultural expression.)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010,2011,2012,2013,2014
URL http://www.encountersbeyondtext.com/installation-by-groups-5-6-7-8/
 
Description Project film 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A film was made to document the project and disseminate its impact.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2013,2014,2015
URL http://www.encountersbeyondtext.com/
 
Description Project website 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A website was created to document the project and disseminate the outputs.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010,2011,2012,2013,2014,2015
URL http://www.encountersbeyondtext.com/
 
Description Salisbury workshops and presentations during Salisbury International Arts Festival 2011 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Two young artists formed a research group linked to Salisbury International Arts Festival participated in the initial phase of the project. Mentored and facilitated by Paul Heritage (academic) and Gary Stewart (contemporary artist), the young people were enabled to engage in public debate exploring themes of territory, community and the role of art.

The performance took place at Salisbury International Festival (June 2011). A recording of the final installation can be played below.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
URL http://www.encountersbeyondtext.com/category/actions/salisbury/
 
Description São Paulo workshops 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Eight research groups from four São Paulo arts organisations (Bolha de Sabão, Cooperifa, Ninho Sansacroma, Teatro Oficina) participated in this phase of the project. Young people, mentored and facilitated by Paul Heritage (academic) and Gary Stewart (contemporary artist), with support from two of the emerging artists from the earlier Rio phase, were enabled to engage in public debate exploring themes of territory, active citizenship and political engagement.

Performances took place at Capão Redondo (March 2012); and at Indaiatuba, Capão Redondo and Bixiga (November 2012). Recordings of their final installations can be played below.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2013
URL http://www.encountersbeyondtext.com/category/actions/saopaulo/