University of Southampton: Southampton school children have their say on the City’s cultural sector

Around 600 children in Southampton have take part in workshops with local artists to explore what they want to see in the City’s cultural quarter in the future.

The sessions, led by Southampton-based artists Nazneen Ahmed, Natalie Watson and Faye Phillips, took place in 15 schools and youth settings and gave the children a chance to say how Southampton’s cultural sector is currently serving them, and how it could do better.

This was the first part of the Connecting Culture project, led by the University of Southampton and funded by Arts Council England, which will help produce a ‘Young People’s Manifesto and Map’ to inform a cultural programme that reflects the needs of children and young people in Southampton.

The creative workshops involved visual art, creative writing and dance, so the young participants had lots of fun whilst sharing their ideas with the University researchers.

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, including two national school closures, there was a huge appetite to involve children and young people in creative activity as the country emerged from lock-down.

One youth leader that participated said they had “enjoyed seeing the young people being so passionate about the place they live in, using a creative outlet to put their own stamp on local places”.

The ideas that were generated during the workshops will now be looked over by the Connecting Culture team, led by Dr Ronda Gowland-Pryde of the University of Southampton, to decide the best ways to take them forward next year.

Reflecting on the workshops, Dr Gowland-Pryde said, “young people clearly valued the opportunity to take part in new creative activities and take part in the research.”

“It was clear that the young people really welcomed being listened to, knowing that they would be contributing to the future of arts and cultural provision for children and young people in the city.”

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