The Geraldine Connor Foundation, in collaboration with IVE (formerly CAPE UK) and Leeds City College, delivered a 12 week pilot scheme from the 30th May – 22nd August on behalf of the Leeds Grand Futures network.

The aim of the scheme was to connect 6 young people in Leeds with arts professionals working in the city. The main priority was to help aid the young person’s progression by helping them build new connections between large and small scale cultural providers in Leeds. Using positive action to target young people aged between 13 and 25 years, we promoted both performance and non-performance roles based on the young person’s interest.

With a current lack of representation in the arts and culture industry, this scheme focused its effort on selecting young people from diverse backgrounds particularly BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic), people with disabilities and those with challenging social and economic circumstances.

Our Cultural Connections Case Studies give you an insight into how our participants built new connections through this scheme.

Case Studies

Adeline Pitu

Nikisha Bowers

Callum Mardy

Keep reading to find out more about this programme, including its structure, key outcomes, findings, and future considerations.

Stages of the programme

1. Identification

An email was sent out to arts organisations and key contacts to refer any young people that were suitable for the cultural connections programme. Six young people were then identified and referred to the Geraldine Connor Foundation through the Grand Futures network, GCF programmes, small arts organisations and secondary school tutors.

2. Interviews

A meeting was arranged between a member of GCF and the young person to find out how the programme could be tailored to suit their individual needs and interests. This stage included a conversation with the young person, completion of a questionnaire/semi-structured interview and the creation of a profile. If the young person was under the age of 18, the parent/guardian had the option to sit in on the meeting. The conversation also focused on the range of performance/non-performance roles in the arts industry that are available.

3. Making the connection

After collating the information from the interview, GCF contacted appropriate arts professionals for the young people to talk to and consideration was given to the young person’s age, level of skill and area of interest. In the pilot programme, the request was initially made to the Grand Futures Network. Upon receiving a positive response, GCF briefed the arts professional about the young person, the format of the conversation and potential future opportunities.

4. Co-ordinating the meeting

GCF then coordinated a meeting between the young person, the arts professional and a member of staff from GCF. The meeting usually took place at the organisation/company that the professional worked at as it gave the young person a feel of the work environment. The conversation lasted about an hour and the young person was able to ask any questions that they prepared beforehand.

5. Follow up

A follow-up conversation was arranged with the young person to discuss their next steps as well as find out what they have learnt. The young person and member of GCF agreed on a progress action plan that will be monitored.

Future Considerations

  • A session should be arranged to help prepare the young person to speak to professionals (this could be carried out as a group session)
  • Provide workshops to help young people with their CV and support with career advice
  • Create a document which provides information on careers in the arts industry, especially related to the young person’s particular art form. This document should include recommendations for the young person to explore, such as links to creative arts websites, upcoming events, document of key contacts
  • It is important for the young people to speak to professionals with similar backgrounds to them as they found them to be more relatable
  • There needs to be some sort of support system for those who are struggling with mental health issues, financial issues, and those who are carers.

Overall outcomes/Findings

  • The pilot scheme has proven to be a success as long term support has been put in place for some of the young people which will be of a huge help for them to progress into the creative arts
  • 1-1 support help built the young person’s confidence as well as help tailor the connections to the young person’s needs
  • Feedback from the young people has been positive
  • All of the young people were mainly interested in finding work experience in the arts industry
  • Some organisations may provide work experiences but there needs to be some thought on finding funds or providing paid work opportunities.

Long term programme

  • GCF and IVE could partner together to incorporate this into a long term funded programme such as the Talent Development Programme which is due to start in March 2018
  • Partner with contacts who have supported the scheme (West Yorkshire Playhouse, Northern Ballet, Leeds City College, Studio 12 and Phoenix Dance Theatre)
  • There needs to be some sort of structure for the programme. However, an individual approach to the programme must be ensured
  • A small budget that includes travel expenses would encourage young people to participate in the programme. Tickets for dance performances, music shows or theatre shows may encourage young people to pursue a career in their particular art form.

If you would like to find out more about the Cultural Connections Programme, please do get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.

Cultural Connections participant, Adeline Pitu