What's Happening for the Young - an interview with Holly Hunter

Holly is the Lead Programmer of the WHYFest 2015 at the Southbank Centre. What is Happening for the Young is a festival aimed to create awareness of the rights of the youth and encourage them to use their voice. In this interview, Holly gives me an insight into her own career path and some of the highlights of this weekend.

What's Happening for the Young - an interview with Holly Hunter

How did you get involved in your field of work?

I always enjoyed music and studied a degree in singing. Rather than travel or be part of a choir or such, I knew I always wanted to work in a venue, constantly surrounded by arts and inspiration. I began my career path by doing a number of internships, with organisations such as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. I got a job working at the Southbank Centre as a researcher, and organizing fundraising. From this I recognized that I wanted to be part of the Learning team at the Centre, and in order to this I began volunteering on the weekends around my current job at the time. Through doing this I learnt more about the educational aspects of what happens at Southbank and I was able to become a learning co-ordinator and festival organiser. In terms of the WHYFest, I have been in charge mainly of the VoiceLab singing programme.

What are your aims for the event?

The main aims are for this event to reach as many children and young people as possible and make sure they know about their rights. The idea was to take something inaccessible, i.e. the Human Rights Convention, a piece of legal writing aimed at adults and academics, and make it accessible. The idea of using arts to do this being that it will be illustrated in various ways and we can use different platforms to discuss it.

In your opinion, does there need to be more funding for the arts in order for events like this to take place?

Yes, I feel that the arts are crucial to social understanding. They allow exploration and are thought-provoking, and in being so are necessary for different people to engage with each other. Controversial ideas and issues can be expressed and looked at in the arts in a way that does not always present itself on a day to day basis.For these reasons, funding definitely needs to be kept constant, and increased, in order to engage more people and create more understanding of others.

Do you think using arts to explore political and current issues is effective?

Yes. Arts can be used as a way in, to learn about issues and to develop opinions. I think that the media makes one feel removed from current affairs and issues, where art allows you to empathise.

Which events are you looking forward to?

What Makes a Good Childhood with Jacqueline Wilson

I'm really looking forward to this event, Jacqueline Wilson being an author that I grew up with. I met her when I was 12 at a local library where she signed my book, having someone that played a part in my childhood come to talk about and share experiences of their own will be really interesting. I think the fact that she has a presence in the lives of so many young children with her work will make her own talk really accessible.

Why would you encourage people to attend?

I think it will be a chance to learn something new and help young people have an awareness of their voice. The school days are really focused around getting a range of specialist teams involved with young people and working on activities to create an understanding of the legal writing itself. There is such a wide range of events going on, looking at different aspects of rights and encouraging people to get involved.

Do you think this event will help young people to be better equipped for their future?

Yes. In terms of this festival, knowledge is power. The information that young people can pick up and opinions they can develop here will help them in terms of making decisions in the future. They will be able to recognize their rights and know what to do when faced with a situation that may affect their rights.

After interviewing Holly I made my way around the Southbank Centre to get involved with what was on. It really was an excellent event and catered for all ages. For me the Peace Mosaic and the Space for Cultural Rights were definitely highlights on the Saturday. Both events were free and open to all ages, encouraging the public to get involved. This was an event that cannot be missed.

Find out more about the Southbank Centre - an Arts Award Supporter here.


Neha Lakhanpaul

Neha Lakhanpaul Activist

19. Law student. Dance and art. London. Twitter: @NehaOldSoul Instagram: @nkl96For me art is an opportunity, a way to express and be heard, a chance to make a change.

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