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Partners Announced For British Museum Youth Engagement Projects in Arts and Culture Across the UK

The organizations will support under-served young people to produce diverse and unique projects with their charity counterparts.

Where we are..., a new innovative national programme for young people, today announces its three Key charity and cultural Partners across the UK for 2021, located in Edinburgh, Leeds and Leicester. Organised by the British Museum, and supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, projects will be led by and co-produced with young people in these areas.

The open and collaborative nature of these projects will enable creative and unconstrained approaches towards the idea of arts and culture. With direct input from young people aged 16-24, these bespoke projects will develop and evolve in response to a need in the local community. The Key Partner organisations involved span from a museum to historic house and art gallery and will support under-served young people to produce diverse and unique projects with their charity counterparts. These third sector bodies have missions ranging from a focus on young carers, a nurturing of new talent and the provision of music and arts education.

In Scotland, Museum & Galleries Edinburgh (MGE) and Edinburgh Young Carers will be working together, focusing on young carers in Edinburgh. Through this project, young carers in the community who may face adversity and challenges as a result of these caring responsibilities, will have the opportunity to have fun and forge networks and bring their experience and skills to the project, developing these further. MGE cares for thirteen venues and over 200,000 objects related to Edinburgh life, childhood, archaeology, fine art and decorative art. Edinburgh Young Carers is a voluntary organisation that provides support for children and young people aged 5-25 who care for someone at home.

Lee MacKenzie, 16-25s Development Worker at Young Carers said: "We are thrilled to have been selected to take part in the project. This last year has been particularly challenging for our young adult carers in terms of wellbeing, education and employment. By being part of this project, we hope to remove some of the barriers the pandemic has created for our carers as well supporting them to explore some of the incredible culture their city has to offer. Having worked together with the MGE team on successful projects in the past, it's great to be able to work in partnership again on something new."

Councillor Donald Wilson, Edinburgh Council Culture and Communities Convener said: "Working with Edinburgh Young Carers, our Museums & Galleries Edinburgh service is delighted to have been selected as one of the British Museum's Key Partners. Our Museums service has done a lot of work with young carers and other groups and there has never been a better time for this kind of engagement. In Edinburgh we are keen to ensure that cultural opportunities are available to everyone that lives here, and we can't wait to see what the young people produce."

Harewood House Trust and Geraldine Connor Foundation in Leeds will work on a project predominantly with young people who define themselves as from the African diaspora. The springboard for this is the idea that Harewood House acts as 'My House' - a place belonging to everyone individually. Young people will form a creative response to any aspect of the house, its landscape its collections and its history, including exploring decolonisation narratives and varying ways to present history. Built in the 18th century, Harewood House is one of the Treasure Houses of England with art collections to rival the finest in Britain and over 100 acres of gardens. Geraldine Connor Foundation intends to bring people together through arts and culture, starting from an African Caribbean perspective, opening up conversations about identity, hidden narratives, and representation in British society.

Selina McGonagle, Director at Geraldine Connor Foundation said: "The Geraldine Connor Foundation is thrilled to have been selected to be part of the Where we are... programme. This co-produced project will be an opportunity for young people to explore the history of Harewood House creatively in their own way, giving them the freedom to express what the house means to them today."

Jane Marriott, Trust Director at Harewood House said: "Since 2012 Geraldine Connor Foundation and Harewood House have workeda??closely on creative projects for young people across Leeds and the wider area.a??We do this in order to lift up marginalised voices and promote equality, diversity anda??inclusion. We use our programme to engage our audiences with the urgent issues of our time. It is therefore wonderful to havea??thisa??commitment recogniseda??by the British Museum and to be a partner in thea??Where we are...a??programme, offeringa??underrepresented young groups the opportunity to address issues such as this across the UK today."

The third and final Key Partner for 2021 will be in Leicester through Attenborough Arts Centre (University of Leicester) and Pedestrian who will collaborate with young people who identity as LGBTQ+ to explore activism and social justice. These young people will have full unrestricted access to the resources of both organisations to produce their project in response to the upcoming exhibition programme, including the creation of music. Attenborough Arts Centre co-produces work with children and young people. It seeks new and creative ways to removes barriers to accessing the arts, and prioritises working for the most marginalised youth. Pedestrian is a leading arts organisation and charity specialising in music and arts education through training and outreach projects for young people young people who are often socially excluded, not in education, employment or training.

Hema Mistry, Director, Pedestrian "We are so excited to work with the British Museum and Attenborough Arts Centre to introduce and widening the understanding of contemporary visual art for young people whilst combining with our music specialism. This is a unique opportunity to share the talents of young people from Leicester on a national platform."

Marianne Pape, Education and Outreach Officer, Attenborough Arts Centre said: "Where we are... is a new collaborative partnership that will bring together young people in Leicester identifying as LGBTQIA+, artists, and colleagues from Attenborough Arts Centre and Pedestrian. Supported by our friendly and experienced team, they will respond creatively to Attenborough Arts Centre's autumn 2021 exhibition entitled 'The World is a Work in Progress', which features newly commissioned work by contemporary artists, including Bob & Roberta Smith, engaging with ideas of activism, social justice and future building. We are excited to be working with the British Museum on this project and amplifying young voices, ideas and culture in Leicester."

Running from 2021 until 2025 and supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Where we are... aims to help give young people agency within their own local communities by creating three cultural projects a year as part of the British Museum's National Programmes. It encourages young people to interpret what arts and culture means to them, their families and local communities thereby supporting and developing their skills and experience. A fully funded programme, it also intends to help bridge barriers that prevent young people from engaging with arts and culture locally by working collaboratively with local organisations responding to a community need. Working in a four-way partnership with the British Museum, local charities and cultural spaces, Where we are... ultimately aims to connect with young people who are currently under-served by the cultural sector.

The next stage of the project is for each Key Partner to locally manage the recruitment of 10 young people to co-produce the youth-led cultural or arts project, seeking to engage those young people who are traditionally under-served in the arts and culture sector. The programme wants to broaden definitions of arts and culture and support young people by giving them the space and time to express their identities and culture in an artistic way. Young people will be remunerated for their time and expenses and this first year of the programme will run until January 2022.

Moira Sinclair OBE, Chief Executive at Paul Hamlyn Foundation said, "At Paul Hamlyn Foundation, we believe in the power of the arts as a force for change - and as a country we are certainly at a moment of profound change, in the way we interpret and respond to culture and in the way in which young people experience the world around them. So it's very pleasing to see this new approach to collaboration taking shape. We hope these relationships between cultural organisations and the voluntary sector, between the British Museum and Where we are...partners are enduring and productive. As soon as we are able to visit, we look forward to hearing the many rich stories and voices of diverse young people as they take central stage in this important work."

Sophie Alonso, National Outreach Manager at the British Museum said, "We were overwhelmed with the quantity and quality of applications this year and are very eager to work with our chosen three partners. Each of them brings something unique and valuable to the project and we can't wait to start working together and learning from each other. The experience and perspective of the young people who will shape and develop these projects with us will be invaluable to all of our organisations and will hopefully have a meaningful impact on their lives too. We have an exciting few months ahead of us!"

Sarah Saunders, Head of Learning and National Partnerships said, "In all of our work, the British Museum draws upon the support of our many long-standing partnerships and building new connections. This year we have launched our new Where we are... programme to encourage under-served young people aged 16-24 from across the UK to engage with arts and culture in their local communities. Initiatives like this are more important than ever to break down existing barriers and increase access to the arts, not just in museums but in all areas of local life."


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