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Academic Expertise to Support Young People

Interface asked Eona Craig of the Articulate Cultural Trust to explain how working with a university has helped her organisation.

Where do you want to take the organisation from here?

There are isolated and disenfranchised young people all over the world, so globally in time. But for now we are busy enough at home. We work intensively with small numbers of young people with projects currently in Glasgow, Dundee, Paisley and Falkirk. We have just taken on a unit in COLAB in Sauchiehall Street, calling it Culture Corner, so you can meet us there. But maybe someday there will be hubs like this in the four corners of the globe.

Which university did you work with, and what was the issue you wanted to overcome by working with academic researchers?

We worked with Abertay University on a joint research project called Arts, Creativity and Employability (ACE). It was supported through the Social Innovation Fund by Scottish Government and the EU as a first step to explore what the challenges and barriers that get in the way of young people accessing the arts to get support in learning, in life and in preparation for the world of work are – especially in the creative industries which are notoriously advantaged and non-diverse.

We worked with five care experienced Young Researchers, travelled all over the UK seeking good practice and trying to understand what the component of that practice were. The young people made this film and this shorthand summary of what we learned together.

There is also a 60-page report with 37 recommendations if anyone brave wants to know the detail …

What benefits did the collaboration with Abertay bring to your business?

It was great to be able, with such a young organisation, to spend a focussed period of time on consultation, collating findings and evidence of ‘what works’ and why. We got to work closely with an inspiring group of academics and young people with lived experience and learned loads from and about each other. The project has left us feeling confident that there is a gap to be filled and we are the people to fill it with purposeful and valuable work.

On a very practical note, we now have a road map with four key journeys that we want to take in the next phase of our evolution: developing great places and spaces in which to create; understanding more how the arts can help with the mental health of young people; how we can all train and learn to realise our societal creative potential; ways and means to communicate, connect and collaborate around a shared interest in the arts and creativity.

How did Interface support help your business?

They really helped us at the outset to be clear about what problem we wanted to solve and gave us the confidence to reach out to higher education establishments to find a compatible partner. They helped us draft the brief, promote it and shortlist from the applications we received. In the end we chose Abertay University because of their skills in the digital and fast-changing technical world. The team there were a great fit for reasons of inclusivity and future-proofing ideas to test.

This first step has also led us to make connections with other academics as you can see from this recent Collider event with Edinburgh Napier University.

What impact has the initial collaboration had for Articulate?

Articulate now has a clear idea of what our direction and focus should be as a result of this partnership research. We now must take time to develop the key services and align them with needs across the country. It is a good time to do so with Scotland’s Independent Care Review and the National Cultural Strategy coming over the crest of the hill.

One of the most rewarding outcomes has been creating a new role for one of the Young Researchers, who took up post with us recently as a Workshop and Office Assistant. That was a great result for us all.

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