Get Gold with rural arts

I start writing this in a place ideal for contemplating rural arts, the New Forest. Having spent a week down on the south coast, the fresh air and rurality reminds me of where I grew up. I've lived in cities for the last 6 years and a large town for about 5 years before that, so rural arts had become a thing of the past.

Get Gold with rural arts

However, I know that there are degrees of rurality and that young people today may be able to access more but may also struggle at the same time. I now have the overwhelming access to 4 theatres, 2 concert halls and a multitude of galleries and historical cultural venues within a mile of me. All of these come at a price but some I'm pleased to say are arts award organisations along with several more in the same vicinity.

But spending my teenage years in a town with 1 theatre and a few galleries despite its size was a different story. Since moving away they have spent many millions on a new venue called the apex. Providing another space but not really enhancing the participatory opportunities as far as I can tell. Prior to this I grew up in villages, and whilst my mum took me to town and we had a fairly good access to arts, joining a youth theatre within walking distance was a dream - despite there being at least 5 weeklies in town (which I later became a part of 2 every week).

So why is there an increasing amount of provision but still the potential struggle to access? I put it down to the increasing recognition of the importance of the arts, but not a similar growth in recognition by the powers that be.

There are many wonderful people who believe in what they can achieve and want to share the experiences they fought to have. I think young people are generally more empowered to make these calls and develop their own opportunities. From my perspective, these opportunities to get involved can be created by Arts Award students too and the framework is ideal. For my silver leadership project I ran a drama club at school with fellow students, at Gold I created a one day mini-arts festival with workshops to participate in and a showcase for local young people to perform in.

So if you live in a rural area and know other young people wanting to participate in a particular project to learn, maybe this can be your opportunity to link up with a supportive organisation, apply to a dedicated small funding pot, and run a project that increases the accessibility to the arts in your area!

Now that I've commented about a small solution we can all drive forward, how about a political statement? The arts need to be made accessible to young people with additional challenges due to their location - those with a lack of public transport and with a lack of commercially viable projects around. Subsidy must be more readily available to high quality participative arts projects that can demonstrate impact and value for money; developing skills and the professionals we need to carry on having the economic impact we do.


Emrys Green

Emrys Green Voice Team

Emrys is the Business & Projects manager at Upstart who runs Voice.

Alongside managing Voice and its related programmes of work Emrys manages web builds and live events through his own pursuits - with a wide encapsulation of the arts sector. Theatre, Dance, Circus, Spoken Word and a combination of contemporary and shakespearean work would all be in his wheelhouse.

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