Academics at Northumbria University are working with young people in NewcastleGateshead to map their version of the city. Commissioned by Juice Festival, Jon Swords and Mike Jeffries from the Department of Geography, and Sebastian Messer from the Department of Architecture and Built Environment, have spent the past year working with artists to run mapping workshops with schools, students and youth organisations. The methods used don’t involve GPS or other high tech mapping techniques; instead they give participants blank sheets of paper, sharpies and importantly, the power to represent their version of the city however they want.
The project builds on work done with skaters, who like the young people taking part are sometimes seen as a nuisance. Young people aren’t big spenders, and don’t work in the city, so are at best ignored in depictions of the city, or at worst are seen as detrimental to its efficient economic function.
The culmination of the year-long project is an exhibition at Newcastle City Library, as part of Juice Festival 2016, where an atlas of maps based on what participants produced will be displayed. The maps drawn, doodled and, in some cases, thoughtfully scribbled, provide a rich source of insights about NewcastleGateshead. Gone are the historic monuments and buildings, unless they are useful places to meet friends, and the amenities used by adults are mostly overlooked too. What is revealed is the importance of friends and families over places or landmarks, and the significance of schools and colleges – past, present and future – as places of memory, friendship, legend and, of course, dread. The journeys young people take through the city also come through strongly – links between school and home, parents, grandparents and friends, as well as their favourite park, café or cornershop are all significant. Finally, fantasy worlds hidden below the streets, above the buildings and online pour from felt tips on to paper. These are all worlds occupied by young people, but places traditional maps can’t represent, and adults struggle to comprehend.
How young people understand and use the city in which they live today, and the imagined the future city they will inherit, is an issue often overlooked in consultations by urban authorities. It is hoped the intervention by academics, to raise the profile of young people’s perspectives, and translate it into policy fields, will help address this lacuna.
Mapping the City is a partnership between Juice Festival and Northumbria University. The longer term aim of this collaboration is to produce a young people’s manifesto for the city, to give them a vision and a stake in the policy, planning and development of NewcastleGateshead
For more about Juice Festival 2016 go to:
Juice Festival is a multi-art form festival for people aged 0-25 and their families, delivered by NewcastleGateshead Initiative (NGI), a not for profit organisation aiming to inspire people to visit, live, learn, work and invest in the North East. Juice Festival is a restricted budget within NGI with a turnover in 2014 of £165,000.
Juice Festival celebrates the creativity and talent of young people, inspiring them to take part, enjoy and create high quality arts and culture. The festival takes place every October half term across Newcastle and Gateshead. Children and young people work alongside professional artists to present an exciting 10 day programme of poetry, dance, photography, performance, film, music and visual arts.
Who are our beneficiaries?
Juice Festival plays a vital role in supporting children and young people 0-25 to develop their confidence, skills and leadership by involving them in all aspects of the festival, as artists, performers and volunteers as well as ‘behind the scenes’ production and management. Many of the young people involved have gained paid employment on the festival and gone on to secure further employment in the arts and creative industries. Benefits identified by young people from festival evaluations included increased skills, confidence and motivation, precisely the skills and attributes being sought by local employers.
In 2015, over 700 children and young people were involved as participants and artists, with over 12,000 children, families and young people attending as audiences. In 2015 Juice Festival was awarded National Portfolio status by Arts Council England, in recognition of our leading work in the north east as an arts organisation dedicated to developing young people’s creative skills and leadership.
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