What goes on at the Museum of Youth Culture?

"We believe in the power of youth culture heritage as a catalyst for creativity, self expression and connecting communities."

What goes on at the Museum of Youth Culture?

Could you first introduce yourself for the reader? 

My name is Sanna Charles and I’m Education Lead at YOUTH CLUB Archive. I’m also a photographer and have a background in youth culture photography and working with young people in formal and informal education settings. 

What happens at the organisation? 

YOUTH CLUB Archive is a non-profit organisation working to preserve, share, educate and celebrate youth culture history through a passionate network of photographers and creatives. We believe in the power of youth culture heritage as a catalyst for creativity, self expression and connecting communities. 

What do you offer to young people? 

We work with existing youth organisations and schools, colleges and universities who are looking to incorporate multiple areas of photography into their young people’s programme by delivering youth-oriented creative workshops. 

There are three areas we cover: zine making in response to the archive, documenting your youth culture and local history through visual storytelling, audio documentation and text, including but not limited to; essay writing and poetry. We also house a small darkroom and have facilitated small groups of two in our Introduction to the Darkroom Process workshop. 

What activities are most popular for young people and why? 

Our zine making workshops are a great way to explore our archive whilst broadening a young person’s creative skills. We have an ‘all areas covered’ policy, which means that zines can cover any topic chosen and many finished articles have contributed to Arts Awards and other accredited school/college projects. 

Could you give an example of a recent project you have run, and the impact it had? 

We work closely with Accumulate, a London based charity providing creative workshops to young homeless people who are living in hostels or temporary accommodation in London. We have facilitated zine workshops and collage using the archive, black & white self-portraiture and are soon to be working on a radio show, training young people with audio recording skills to document oral histories. 

The impact of these projects has been that young people who may not have the time or space to be creative, get the opportunity to contribute to a collaborative zine, working together and using resources they may not have access to in their daily lives. It’s a relaxed, non judgemental environment and we promote free speech and a space for everyone to be themselves, something we believe all young people have a right to. 

Have you seen any change in the industry over the last few years? Is it positive or negative? 

We’re a relatively new organisation launching as YOUTH CLUB Archive in 2015. The biggest change we’ve seen is the interest in youth culture as a whole, especially when it comes to its visual influences through fashion, music, photography and film. 

There are definitely more organisations offering training and skills for young people in a creative capacity, unfortunately certain areas of the UK have more opportunities than others. Cuts to arts funding in state schools has also limited what we can offer in these formal education settings, this has a negative impact on the kinds of experiences young people have. 

As the Museum of Youth Culture develops we will have curriculum resources that can be embedded into an existing arts and media curriculum. Many long standing archival organisations are working in similar ways, such as the BFI. 

Are you an Arts Award Supporter? If so, what do you offer to young people doing Arts Award? 

We are an Arts Award supporter. Currently, we can only facilitate groups of young people wishing to gain experience in photography in many of its forms.

We have worked with young people from The Complete Works (TCW) school helping them put together a black & white photography assignment which contributed to their Art GCSE. 

We’ve also worked with groups of young people from Spotlight Youth Club in East London on a street photography assignment, which contributed towards their Arts Awards. We are flexible in how you wish to use our resources and skills and are always happy to hear from organisations wishing to discuss how we might be able to help. 

Do you publish any online resources that young people doing Arts Award or Trinity College qualifications could use? 

We have just acquired funding to support our new and exciting project, the first Museum of Youth Culture. As part of this expansion we are developing online resources that will be made available to Arts Award qualifications. Keep an eye on our website over the coming months or follow our social media for updates. 

You can also find the Museum of Youth Culture on Google Arts & Culture: https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/museum-of-youth-culture

Is there anything you particularly want to promote to young people at the moment? 

We currently have a rolling team of volunteers who help with digital metadata of new acquisitions. It’s a great way to familiarise yourself with our archive, find inspiration through previously unknown photographers and learn a little about working with a photographic archive that is both physical and digital. We invite applications to our volunteer programme from those aged 18 and over. 

Where can people find out more about the work you do? 




Header Image Credit: Debbie Sears


Sienna James

Sienna James Voice Team

Formerly Assistant Editor, Sienna now studies History of Art at the University of Cambridge and loves to write about the intersection of politics, history and visual art. Sienna is author of the Creative Education and Instaviews series.

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