In July 2017, The Basement and Nike came together to launch ‘Real People Do Real Things’ – a collaborative project aimed at harnessing the power of community, highlighting important issues, and providing creative opportunities for young people. Nine powerful community stories showcasing the strength of young people sticking together to overcome hardships were told, and commemorated in the production and sale of the ‘Nike Dunk Low BSMNT’ from a gallery pop-up space in Soho, London.
The Basement, with it’s ethic and purpose rooted in providing a platform for young people, decided it wanted to give the proceeds to a charity in London that was already providing opportunities for young people, but eager to do more – Youth Futures.
The money generated from the Nike Dunk Low BSMNT was earmarked to build a creative studio for Youth Futures, giving young people in South London the chance gain experiences in the creative arts, and find real pathways into the creative industries.
Youth Futures was set up in January 2012 following the closure of other local youth projects due to funding cuts. It emerged in response to a number of local young people voicing their concern and disappointment that there was a lack of safe social spaces in the area. Since launching, Youth Futures has followed a youth-led model, shaping their work based on what their members need and want to see in their community.
While Youth Futures had established a strong network of young people in the South London area and was responsible for a lot of valuable reactive work to ensure their welfare, it’s provision of skills training wasn’t as strong as it could be.
In order to provide better sustainable opportunities for the young people of Youth Futures, both old and new, it was important to create solutions that prepared them for the 21st century, creative, digital economy that we are a part of.
YF Studio is a purpose built creative space in Brixton that has become the creative hub for Youth Futures – enabling the young people, the charity works with to gain experience in creative arts – from photography and video production, to graphic design, clothing design and entrepreneurship. It also serves as a safe space in which other community organisations can use to facilitate sessions and training important to their goals and objectives.
Since its launch, YF Studio has seen numerous workshops and creative sessions take place, and has become a cornerstone of Youth Futures as they enter a new phase in their development and the work they do with young people in the local area.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
While it seems obvious that we should be providing skills and training for young people to enter into the creative industries, this doesn’t seem clear to all. Provisions of creative arts for young people are currently under attack. A recent BBC survey found that nine in 10 schools are cutting back on lesson time, staff or facilities in at least one arts subject. The English Baccalaureate – known as the EBacc – now evaluates schools based on their performance in English, maths and a handful of other subjects, but excludes the creative arts. As a result, creative subjects are in steep decline in state schools across the country.
This doesn’t make sense.
The Bank of England is predicting that as many as 15 million jobs could be lost to automation based on technological advancements. It is the creative industries that are less susceptible to automation, as machines find it hard to think truly creatively. With that said, we should be investing in an education system that is equipping young people with the skills they need to find high-quality work.
Sadly, we seem to be heading in the wrong direction.
With the launch of YF Studio, and the support it will receive through the re-ignition of the ‘Real People Do Real Things’ project in October 2019, we hope that we can go a small way toward addressing some of the issues young people are facing presently.