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Commissioning Young Creatives

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Common Ground was an action research project which connected young people in the East of England with their local natural and cultural heritage through the arts. The three-year funded project began in 2020 and finished in March 2023, working in partnership with heritage organisations, charities and artists throughout the region.   

Common Ground commissioned young people throughout the project. This case study looks at the value of commissioning young people in heritage projects, as well as giving suggestions on the most effective way of doing this. The case study will be most useful for heritage and arts professionals and artists who want to nurture emerging creatives aged 25 and under. 

The case study identifies the key areas to think about when commissioning young people, as follows: 

  • Commissioning young creatives benefits them in terms of career progression and their understanding of working in the arts, as well as being a great way for artists and arts organisations to boost youth engagement with a project. 
  • This was a great opportunity for emerging community artists to gain professional experience, which can be hard to find otherwise. Instead of marketing and programming these commissions as a traineeship, Common Ground offered a clear pathway and skills development framework into becoming a freelance artist working in participation/community work. 
  • Mentoring & training needs to be built into the commission in order to support emerging creatives. Where possible, bring in a partner at recruitment stage to support mentoring and training of the young people.   
  • Be as open as you can with the disciplines you support – Common Ground wasn’t specific about which art form young people had to work in meaning that opportunities could be molded to young people’s interests and skills. This made the project more accessible as well as providing varied outcomes.    

To find more practical tips on how to engage with young creatives, check out the Common Ground guidebook saved here. 

Arts make life better

Norfolk & Norwich Festival brings tens of thousands of people together in celebration – it has been doing this for 250 years. Through our May Festival and our year-round arts education work, focusing on children and young people, we lead and support celebration, creativity and curiosity in communities across Norfolk and the region.

This year we begin an exciting new initiative, Festival Connect & Create that will bring creative opportunities to those schools and communities with least provision. Creativity transforms people’s lives. It builds cohesive communities, develops vital skills and supports health and wellbeing. We want more people to have access to creative opportunities.

Please consider donating to support and develop this work. With your help we can increase access to the life changing power of the arts.

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