Youth Arts Achievements – What We’ve Done and What We’ve Learnt

What we’ve done and what we’ve learnt…April 2024
Written by the panel.

SPARK’s Youth Arts Ambassadors have a dual role.  Their first ambition is to work with cultural and artistic organisations in the Wakefield District to help make their programmes for young people accessible and relevant. Their second is to champion arts and culture to their peers to raise awareness of what is happening and the positive impact it can have on wellbeing, health success and happiness.

To this end they have developed this manifesto to help shape their work:

Youth Arts Ambassadors represent young people in the Wakefield District who are growing up in an area with significant arts and culture opportunities but where the focus is on established organisations which are not for everyone and not always creatively challenging

  •     We are honest and direct

Ready to take on any challenge in the spirit of supporting development

  •     We are inclusive

Our team welcomes and represents people from different cultures and backgrounds and who have diverse needs

  •     We are a judgement free zone

All opinions are heard and considered as we make decisions

  •     We are focused 

We enable and champion creativity and self-expression

  •     We are proud

We celebrate the Wakefield District and the culture it is home to

However our work isn’t theoretical we try and meet our objectives through action.To this end, since the panel started in June 2023 we have:

  • Worked with a range of professionals to develop our knowledge and/or skills in – Wakefield District’s artistic and cultural landscape, writing non-fiction and journalism, careers in arts and culture and the impact of creativity on wellbeing and brain chemistry.
  • Attended an event at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, to feedback on how it felt to be a young person engaging with their activities and how we thought it could portray more modern day art and sculptures for the youth
  • Collaborated with the National Coal Mining Museum England on how to develop their offer for young people and people who live with disabilities
  • Worked with the Wakefield Museums to assist them in planning and running a youth takeover event. Initial planning was made by the YAA but the sessions themselves were run by the youth of Wakefield. A few of our ambassadors attended the actual events and took part in the activities of Takeover Day.
  • Advised WDH on a community consultation. They wanted advice on how to engage with young people in Wakefield. What services we felt were needed and any community groups we thought could be worth setting up. Ideas such as life skills classes and hobby groups were discussed as well as wanting most of the discussed groups to be run by young people.
  • Represented SPARK at the Wakefield District Youth Voice and Participation panel
  • Talked to professionals at Leeds Gallery, The National Coalmining Museum England and Wakefield Museum about how to craft a career in arts and culture and the different opportunities available
  • Begun to develop a youth led heritage project inspired by Mental Health in collaboration with The Mental Health Museum. The focus is the history of The Stanley Royd Hospital and how we, as a society, have tried our best to change the ways we help and treat people with declining mental health. We also want to explore how throughout history, people have been misunderstood and forced into treatment who didn’t necessarily need it, and how they were treated as a “mad man/woman”
  • On the 14th of March one of our ambassadors, Mary was selected to be part of a youth interview panel for a senior role in Wakefield council and give a voice for Spark. After a short briefing beforehand they got straight to it. This was a first experience for all of the people on the panel! Mary stood as a youth disability and mental health advocate for Spark, accompanied by our new member Troy (and AJ). An amazing experience all around