I’ve just found out that a project I worked on in 2017 and 2018 is nominated for a REALLY prestigious award.

The Journal Culture Awards is to the North East cultural sector are a bit like what the OSCARS are to Hollywood.

It’s a huge deal to be recognised in a nomination and for most individuals it happens maybe once or twice in their career…

A moment to reflect

When the marvellous Rachel Adam and I along with our team at NGI won two Culture Awards for Juice Festival 10 years ago, it was a wonderful way to have not only our work recognised but also that of a seed we had personally championed and started to grow.

The seed of the idea of really listening to young people, empowerment and championing youth voice within the arts and cultural sector was unique but oh so necessary at that time.

As I’ve continued my journey and career, the sector has moved on leaps and bounds and there’s some truly excellent practise in involving and supporting young people to make decisions and lead cultural projects.  Organisations such as Seven Stories now have their own group of Young Curators who exist with exhibition installs and one of my all time favourite cultural organisations New Writing North have more than doubled their participation department to manage their incredible projects supporting young writers.

Our 2019 nomination

The project I worked on is called Colour to the Grey. It’s nominated in the Special Award for Youth Achievement category along with two other brilliant projects.

I was lucky enough to be invited to consult on the project in it’s infancy with Fran Arnold and partners commissioned by bait, Museums Northumberland back in January 2017.

At that time, we were looking to find out what young people would like to see change and be brought to life across South East Northumberland.

Fast forward a few months and Fran and I supported young people to interview artists they wanted to meet as potential partners in their idea.

The artist was selected, ideas were grown and realised further by an incredible team; artist Amy Lord and her producers Empty Space led by the extraordinary talent that is Natalie Querrol. 

People who don’t work in my sector often find the way it’s set up as confusing as the politics it sometimes represents…so I wanted to write and say CONGRATS & THANK-YOU to everyone so it’s written in digital ink right here.

For me, the arts sector isn’t clicky or closed off, it’s what you make it and the cream always rises to the top in anything you choose to do in life.

As well as the the participants who drive a project idea and concept there’s also a whole multitude of amazing roles that play out across a wide range of people with different experiences.

Some of them professionally experienced, some of them at the very start of their arts career journey, some who just wanted to ‘do something’…

There’s the person who;

  • trail-blazes
  • has the spark of an idea
  • galvanises the idea
  • supports the idea
  • funds the idea
  • runs with the idea
  • changes the idea
  • funds the idea some more
  • helps the idea when it gets stuck
  • holds space for the idea to fail
  • re-imagines the idea
  • questions the idea
  • cheerleads the idea
  • adds flair to the idea
  • adds digital expertise to the idea
  • tells others about the idea
  • feels proud about the idea and what’s its become
  • holds the ideas hand when it’s afraid
  • shouts about the idea
  • feels a little tired of the idea
  • invites people to the idea
  • sees the idea become a reality

And now the cultural sector and some lovely people who voted for us want to thank us all for making the idea a reality!

CONGRATULATIONS everyone who contributed and grew the idea for Colour to the Grey in 2017, 18 and now.   The project was a catalyst for conversation about wellbeing, arts and mental health and one that continues and ripples today.

Whether the young leaders win an award or not on Thurs 23 May at the fancy award ceremony is yet to be seen but they are all award winners in my eyes.  Their bravery was incredible and I’m continually inspired by the experience the project enabled for me.

I’m so grateful to have been a tiny part of this magnificent cog!


PS – I wrote a piece that felt quite raw just after I wrapped up on the project in Aug 2018 – you can read it here.