I’ve been working with Helen le Broq, Director of OYAP on various youth arts projects, initiatives and such (*such* representing the unusual, left of midfield projects you get roped into that defy labelling). This January we met in a snow-scaped hotel off the Pear Tree interchange for a catch-up session and she told me all her plans for a new project where OYAP pour all of their years of expertise and knowledge, the good, the bad, the mistakes, the triumphs, highs, lows etc., into an intensive six month programme working with young people who are starting out in their arts careers and want some added support  

The big idea was to offer training by professionals, mentoring by arts professionals and the opportunity for the selected pilot group to gain their Gold Arts Award whilst matching that with practical experience of project work that the selected ‘young leaders’ would scope and instigate as part of the process. Having been hearing about some of the experiences that young people have of University ‘arts courses’ and how little it prepares them for a career in the arts, and how so many young people only get their foot on the ‘Arts ladder’ via volunteering in an Arts organisation I thought any scheme that supported someone to set-up and ‘lead’ an arts project could only be a good thing. The biggest challenge for Helen was drawing in funding for the idea, not suprisingly the Arts Council weren’t going to fund a pilot project but might be interested if the pilot was proved successful (hmmm) and OYAP like many other arts organisations this year were facing funding meltdown. Undeterred I’m pleased to say they know a good idea when it comes along and have fought tooth and nail to make it happen. Here in April, the first cohort are well on their way a testament to all the funders with true vision and understanding of what is needed in the arts sphere of ‘career development’ who have invested in this project.


Having volunteered to support the project, February found me in snow fallen Bicester attending a training day on ‘Mentoring’ run by Carmelina Lawton Smith from Finch Training Services in association with Oxford Brookes and Oyap. A vibrant, question posing day that really highlighted for me how the term ‘mentor’ covers such a broad church and far and away outmatched any previous training I’ve attended on this topic. Four weeks later and @Beccafruit is on the phone to see if I’m a suitable candidate to act as her mentor. I haven’t laughed as much in ages and was delighted (and suprised) when after some thought she emailed to ask if I would be her mentor for the Young Leaders project. Becca plans to become a fully fledged Producer of Art events and happenings/projects/exciting stuff. You can see her first vlog here


Our first meeting ended up in ‘George and Danvers’ down the road from Modern Art Oxford which was our initial destination (until we discovered it was closed for refurbishment). We talked, listened, fuelled up with coffee, set some goals, drew some pictures, shaped some slippery plans and ideas into something more definable and easier to hold on to and pondered roles and challenges. We’ve just had our second meeting, I have been bowled over by Becca’s efficiency and organisation, she showed me some of the work she’s collated so far for her Arts Award and some of the fruits of her consultation work with young people for an ‘intergenerational’ project and told me all about the work and further plans she and her fellow ‘young leaders’ have got for their shared and individual projects. I am so excited, for them, for OYAP and for everyone they will be working with. I want to shout about all of their plans and creativity from the spires of Oxford, I’m so excited by their ideas and work thus far. Oyap have done them proud but I’m not allowed to tell you, so you’ll have to wait and hear about it via Oyaps blog here which you must, you really must.


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Artsmonkey... Culture Active... Firestarter Arts active in the promotion, delivery and development of cultural projects and ideas, with a specialism in youth arts and theatre arts also a bit of a social media diva and photog