Young Arts Reviewers 2022
Caroline Bray, independent evaluator, reflects on the impact of Voice’s young arts reviewer programme.
Throughout 2022 the Voice team worked with six Young Arts Reviewer groups in Brighton, Burnley, Nottingham, Redditch, Shrewsbury and Stoke on Trent. I was delighted to undertake the evaluation of these projects, talking to young people and partner organisations about their experience.
Young Arts Reviewer projects aim to raise young people’s awareness of arts and culture on their doorstep by supporting them to attend and review events. Young people build their critical and communication skills in workshops and learn how to post their reviews on Voice magazine.
Each project worked with a different type of partner and attracted young people with different skills and confidence, with a real focus on supporting those who would not usually attend the arts or post reviews.
`During Covid I was stuck at home, bored a lot and a bit depressed. It’s a new experience that I can express myself through art. I feel a little bit recognised, a little bit accepted. I have enjoyed this so much and would like to thank everyone that allowed me to go and see such amazing events!’
Holly, Blaze Arts, Burnley
‘I looked up how to write reviews on the Voice website, including tips like `how did it feel to be at the event?’ and used these to interview the others in my group. It’s a great opportunity to get involved in the arts.‘
Toni, Gordon Anstis House, Redditch YMCA
- 57 young people attended one or more sessions
- 34 young people engaged regularly and completed all sessions
- 62 reviews were uploaded to Voice, 55 by individuals and 7 as groups. Read them here
- 3 young people have applied to join the network of Voice Contributors who write regularly for Voice
Young people in all groups found out more about the arts and cultural opportunities in their local area and showed measurable skills development in critical appreciation, reviewing and sharing their opinions. Most expressed a desire to continue attending the arts.
A key success for the young people was the opportunity to meet and talk with arts professionals, something they rarely have the opportunity to do through school or college. All found it very valuable to learn from others about how they had developed their careers and to find out about arts jobs. Sessions led by Voice’s young and diverse editorial team were especially highly rated: `truly inspiring’ and `amazing’.
Young people enjoyed working face to face as part of a group with peers, especially after the isolation of lockdown. The opportunity to meet and learn from others outside their social circle who shared their interests was also appreciated.
The project was also a success for the freelance group facilitators, who were recruited locally. They worked with very diverse groups of young people, some of whom were already culturally engaged and others who had never considered getting involved in arts and culture. It showed that young people with little experience of the arts can develop new interests, skills and confidence, whilst those with cultural capital can still benefit from some extra support to help them consider a career in the arts.
Read more about the skills development opportunities which Voice offers young people here