Understanding the ongoing impact of COVID-19 and the events of 2020 on our partners, young Londoners, and the cultural landscape
In January 2021, A New Direction commissioned five Listening Projects. In a rapidly changing context, we want to listen to the voices of those we work with and those who are involved in our work, to understand evolving dynamics in the city and ensure our future work is rooted, part of collective ambitions and relevant.
Each Listening Project was led by a different partner organisation, and was designed to capture reflections and ideas on one of five themes:
- The experience of young Londoners – Aweo Group
- The experience of organisations and individuals leading creative education practices – B & G Partners
- How culture and creative learning might respond to the Earth emergency – Climate Museum UK
- Enabling creative communities – New Local
- Employment and work – Rocket Science
The projects comprised a mix of virtual conversations – including group conversations and individual interviews – and built on learning and evidence emerging from published materials exploring the current context for our sector and young Londoners. They gathered views from families and young Londoners as well as organisations and partners who work across the rich ecology that supports young people, culture and creativity in different areas of the city and regionally.
Each research project explored environments, spaces and listening methodologies to gather a rich range of perspectives. This helped create vital recommendations and calls for action within each theme that are essential as we move out of the pandemic.
Outcomes from the five Projects will feed directly into our future planning, but we think these Listening Projects speak beyond our own organisation and can support the practices of others working to empower young Londoners through this time.
Our next steps
There’s a great deal of insight, advice, and different ideas in the Listening Projects that we want to take time to digest and consider in the context of our programme and planning into next academic year and beyond.
For example, we heard the importance of supporting autonomy for young people and using our organisations’ resources to support young Londoners to progress their ideas and ambitions. We heard the vital role intergenerational relationships and mentoring can play, as well as peer-mentoring. We also heard the necessity for positive representation and inclusion in the cultural and creative sector, ideas around widening definitions of creativity and culture, and openness and inclusion playing a key role in creative places. We heard the importance of space and platforms, providing physical spaces to reconnect as we emerge from the pandemic, and support for mental health. We heard the speed of change partner organisations and those working with young people this year have experienced and current and future employment precarity.
We also heard that ongoing, effective listening is crucially important and we plan to do more next year to explore this and good practice with others. Here are three immediate steps we are taking connected to this:
- Restating a commitment to always feedback to partners, young Londoners, and others involved in consultation or inputting ideas to our work
- To extend the mechanisms we have for ongoing Listening across the programme including developing existing programmes such as the Young Challenge Group
- Continuing to explore opportunities for ‘collective’ listening and listening jointly with colleagues across the cultural and creative sector
We’d love to keep in touch as we make plans and will share more through our newsletter, which you can sign up to here.
Download the reports
Please enter your details below to download the Listening Projects reports. It's really helpful for us to know who is accessing our research, and once you've signed up, we'll also keep you updated on future Listening Projects work.