Social cohesion is necessary for change, says artist and founder Ally Zlater

Ally Zlater, founding of The Starving Artist, offers her opinion on The Young Vote

Social cohesion is necessary for change, says artist and founder Ally Zlater

Could you please introduce yourself to the reader? 

My name is Ally Zlatar, I’m an artist and activist. I founded The Starving Artist which is an artist initiative that utilizes the power of art for systemic reform. 

What is The Starving Artist Scholarship Fund and what were your motivations for founding the organisation? 

The Starving Artist initiative empowers people through creative arts, putting lived-in experiences at the forefront. We aim to promote authentic and vulnerable engagement discourse and bring about change within current systems. Our focus is on championing emerging voices from the creative arts and teaching individuals to explore their experiences and express themselves creatively. We cover a wide range of topics including mental well-being, eating disorders, women's rights, migrant experiences, and climate anxiety. Through artistic voices, exhibitions, publications, workshops, and more. 

It all started with my own experiences of not having others in my life (i.e medical practioners, loved ones, teachers) who understood my struggles. I suffered from a severe eating disorder for over 10 years and people saw the stereotypes but didn’t see the person suffering. I found my voice through art to share authentically and vulnerably, which helped people in my life form a genuine connection and grasp what having an eating disorder really meant. I created this organization to help empower others to have a platform to share and explore their creative voices and lived experiences. 

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You use art to investigate the complexity of human experiences. What value do you think art can bring in helping to understand politics and political issues? 

For me, I believe art is a potent instrument for advocating for and amplifying lived experiences, fostering avenues for expression, delving into personal well-being, and surmounting systemic barriers. Art can aid in overcoming obstacles like language and education, meaning people can more effectively have their voice heard and understood.  

How have you used art as a vehicle for activism? 

I use art to help individuals with lived experiences engage and feel validated on a personal level. Trying to counteract the media and mainstream representations and focus on diversifying the realities of living in an unwell body. This fosters discussion and encourages sharing of their own experiences. Beneficiaries find safety and comfort in the art, knowing they are not alone. The art communicates their struggles and promotes further discussion.

Do you think all young people are likely to vote alike in the next general election, or is it more complicated? 

Honestly, no. I felt like my voice was not important or that it won’t make a difference. At times it feels like the systems are so corrupted that it may not get better. However, what I do believe is that change takes time, and it also takes action. Voting is one step that needs to be done to help get change effectively ignited in the communities. 

What issues do you think are of particular importance to young people in the next general election? 

Sustainability is paramount because we need a world that is liveable. Also important supporting marginalized communities, for example, providing refugees with housing and electricity in a cost-of-living crisis. Of course, with my set of interests, what is also really key is providing more funding for accessible mental health care. 

Do you think the political parties in the UK understand the issues faced by young people? 

No. Young people are often excluded and at times when they are presented with a seat at the table they are tokenised and reduced to media stunt. They truly need to understand the power, passion & needs more to earn that trust and support of young people. 

Voting is just one method of political participation. How else would you recommend that young people engage in politics? 

Campaigning for their needs, getting involved in their local communities and charitable organizations. Change is not exclusive to politics, it needs social cohesion. 

What is your encouragement to young people that youth voice matters? 

Change takes time and if it were easy, it would already be done. But when it happens it is always worth it!


The Young Vote

Voice is on a mission to understand what you want from the next government, what issues are important to you at the next election and whether or not you're likely to vote. Whether you care about politics, or don't care at all,we want to hear from you.

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Author

Sienna James

Sienna James Voice Team

Sienna is the Assistant Editor at Voice. She spent three years studying History of Art at Cambridge University and loves to explore the intersection between politics, history and visual culture. She also loves to hear how young people and artists are engaging in various innovative forms of socio-political resistance whether that's activism or art-making.

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