Home is where the heart is

26 March 2013

This Thursday A New Direction is hosting the London Picture Conference where keynote speakers and panel debate will provoke change for young Londoners and Cultural Education.

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At A New Direction we have suggested four themes for this agenda. These are School, Work, Community and Home.

I tested these themes with some cultural organisations and it was the theme of Home that was the most challenging. Should cultural organisations be dealing with this? Is Home not a private space?

My most compelling experience of how a cultural of organisation can make a difference on the home lives of young people comes from Brazil.

I first visited Nós do Morro theatre company in 2005 and I have been back every year since then. The work is inspiring. Nós do Morro means 'us from the hills' and the company based in 'The Big House' in the favela of Vidigal, just outside Rio.

The work is theatre, dance, art and film; it is training; it is production. There are many remarkable aspects, the progression routes, the international profile, the alternatives to the drug traffic, but what I would like to focus on is the way 'The Big House' is home to many young people.

The thick walls are a safe space from the richochets of bullets (though the violence has decreased in recent years), there is a library, there are big spaces for rehearsals and for keeping cool in the heat, there is greenery and there are the most amazing views.

Above all though, there is a sense of belonging and ownership and, amidst overcrowding and violence, a sense of the possibilities that art can bring.

The context in London is different.

What are the ways in which cultural venues can think the needs of young Londoners in terms of home and belonging? Is it about visiting your favourite theatre as a family over the years as the children grow up? Is it about a space for young people to meet? Is it a space for peaceful study?

Below are some contextual information and some examples. What do you think? Do let us know by commenting on this blog or by bringing your thoughts to the conference on Thursday 28th March.

London context

Two in five schools do not believe that pupils' families involve their children in a wide range of cultural activities. Family engagement is known to be an important driver of educational attainment and life chances.

Being encouraged by parents is the second highest motivation for 11-15 years olds to engage in cultural activities, after enjoyment

One in four young people in London lives in an overcrowded home.There is a forecast shortfall of 221,000 homes by 2021.

Patchy provision means that where your home is matters. 55% of young people in Outer London have seen an exhibition in the last year compared to 69% in Inner London.

One in 12 young people is a carer with responsibilities for other family members. This can have an impact on educational attainment, attendance, and quality of life.

Access to higher education remains deeply unequal, with a strong correlation between family background and educational attainment and life chances – Centre for London 2011

The potential of cultural education

Engaging parents in young people's lives and education. Bringing families together over shared activities to help them become involved in each other's learning and development.

Providing a safe space for enjoyment and learning. Cultural venues
become 'third spaces' for young people where they feel comfortable and
free to work and express themselves.

Partnership examples
B3 Media has worked with the artist Franklyn Rogers on The Elders,helping different generations of African-Caribbean families connect and learn more about their own heritage.

Studio 3 Arts provide a quiet space in their studios during exam times so young people have somewhere peaceful to study.