I have been promoting BBC BLAST in Southampton via social media for a colleague. Blast on tour events are aimed at 13 – 19 yr olds with loads of great opportunities for young people to have a go at all sorts of creative activities from film making and digital media workshops to working with comic book artists, a great way to meet the artists, find out more about what they do, how they got where they are today and have a go at great stuff.
Yesterday I was contacted by @laurasnapes who is currently an assistant reviews editor for the NME asking if I’d help promote a blog she has written on the demise of BBC Blast http://www.laurasnapes.co.uk/ I was shocked to realise when i read Laura’s piece that the BBC have decided to pull BBC Blast. WHY!!? I thought, it’s not perfect but boy is it the best thing the BBC have done for young people since ‘Watch With Mother’! For starters, although its city centric (ie tours to big cities) it’s not London-centric which is refreshing and involves local artists. It’s what BBC Blast does and has done for young people, very successfully ‘it open’s doors’ whether it’s just in the imagination of a young person as they realise the possibilities out there for them, or literally, in Laura Snapes case via the BBC Blast Work Experience programme where young people experience the professional world of *Media and the Arts* and it often gives them the direction they previously lacked.
I think every young person wants to get out into the big wide world of work and that a fire is secretly burning inside them to do one thing or another but either doesn’t know where to begin or simply doesn’t have the confidence – it just needs stoking. BBC Blast via its website with live podcasts and heaps of insights into broadcasting, media, entertainment and the creative industries was just placed right to tap into young peoples thirst to know more and enable them to ask the right questions. So Blast on Tour was the next logical step – a taste of the real world, forget the Radio One Party on the Beach, BBC Blast had purpose and now it’s been axed via a recent Strategy Review. Two words “short” and “sighted”.
Yes, everyone has to tighten their belts but why something that sees such success with young people going on into the creative industries as journalists, reporters, radio producers and more? Doesn’t it bear some more research? Of course, it is always hard to track and monitor just how successful projects with young people really are, no-one, not even the Arts Council does this well. Trouble is youth arts doesn’t generally pay, at least not in hard cash. Young people generally live in the now “see it, want it, try it” so reflecting on its impact or long-term effect isn’t something they readily volunteer or are that interested in doing. Back in 2006/7 Nesta was investigating ways of evaluating the impact of the arts on young people but usually it’s a long-term effort i.e. results aren’t always evident, sometimes not for years and often attributable to a variety of influences or experiences.
If you have had a positive experience with BBC Blast and would like to join the campaign to save it then you can follow @saveBBCblast on twitter and use the #saveblast hashtag or email the BBC or leave a comment on their website.