11 countries, 12 arts organisations, 1 mission… to facilitate the voice of a generation!
I have just returned from two days in Brussels networking and planning an international platform project. This will involve arts organisations across Europe who are creating and producing theatre for, and by, young people. It will be a partnership with the aim of exchanging ideas and work, collaborating with young people and mentors, and commissioning new work.
As part of this process I have taken time to reflect on the work that we are doing with our Young Creatives (a collective of young interdisciplinary artists and producers who create original work and platforms for young artists) at the Albany. We have ambitions to support them to develop as creative individuals, active global citizens and well-rounded human beings.
The Young Creatives describe themselves as ‘millennials’ – a term they both associate with, but also find problematic as they aim to overcome the perception of millennials being an apathetic and uncaring generation who are only interested in themselves. In fact, their upcoming event Move, Shake, Mango aims to flip that on its head to prove that as millennials they are driven, successful young people and to further explore the negative stereotype.
I’ve been inspired by the partners commitment to young people internationally, by their fighting spirit, their ambition and determination. I have found myself returning to England with questions about why I think international partnership, exchange and collaboration is so important to young artists and more broadly speaking young people.
For me it is about connection, real connection, real communication… reality! My experience tells me that young people are becoming less and less engaged with reality and are seeking authenticity as a result of the digital age we live in. Not to say that technology is a negative thing, in fact the very opposite, but to accept that it disengages us from the world we live in. International conversations, partnerships and collaborations for me are about the basic principle of removing people from their everyday habitat, connecting them with possibilities, and mentoring them to flourish in a different environment- in this instance using art as a universal lubricant.
As the European political climate becomes more unsteady and uncertain this week as Article 50 is triggered, as borders are being created, and as there is less money in social services and the public sector as head teachers are speaking out about major cuts, how do we put internationalism back on the agenda? How do we ensure that our young people continue feel ‘European’, exchanging dialogue and collaborating with other young people across the world? Do we not owe it to the ‘millennials’ to break down the borders that others are creating?
The last few days have reminded me that individuals on a mission, with a purpose and ambition really can change the world! I have reignited my passion for this work and reminded myself why I do, and always will, fight for these opportunities for young people. As the slippery changes in the EU start to happen this week, to me it feels more important than ever to spread this work like an oil.
By Zaylie-Dawn Wilson
Youth & Community Programme Manager, the Albany