Artists and dignitaries came together last Thursday for an evening celebrating the talent and diversity that Arts Award has fostered over the last 10 years.
Held in Rich Mix, Shoreditch, the GOLDExpo event served as a showcase of the talent that Arts Award has helped develop. More specifically, the event was aimed to highlight the significance that Gold Arts Award can have in aiding young people kickstart their career in the creative and culture sector, or take the next step in their professional and personal development.
The event was divided into two parts: a "marketplace" exhibition, where the works of young people were displayed, and a live performance section. Photography, film, and sculptures were all available to for attendees to view, as well as a small busking area for poetry, singing and circus skills. The second hour was dedicated to live performances and dignitary speeches, as well as a panel discussion with musician and educator Faz Shah and YouTuber Agi K. Both have completed their Gold Arts Award, and Faz Shah actually performed at Arts Award's fifth birthday when he was just 18.
GOLDExpo was very youth driven. All the artwork, room designs, compèreing and performances were the result of young people working together.
One such young person is Meredith Jane of Revesby Road. Meredith is a 21 years-old student, and is currently awaiting the moderation of her Gold portfolio. Miss Jane was invited to the Expo to display one of her sculptures.
"I thought it was a fantastic event overall, with a creative mix of acts and exhibited work, and it was great to have my own work exhibited. I'm really proud to say I had my work at an event like that, and I particularly liked how I could use the unconventional window space to hang my sculpture in."
Johanna Coulson of The Ridgeway is 25 and performed in the Busker space at the GOLDExpo.
"I found out that I passed my Gold Arts Award the day before the Gold Expo, so the event at Rich Mix was a perfect way to celebrate. It was really inspiring to meet other Gold achievers and speak to people in the industry as well. Events like the Gold Expo are really important for emerging artists like myself to demonstrate their work and be heard!"
Image: Idriss Assoumanou
The event was run by Upstart Projects, a charity organisation which oversees the Arts Award Youth Network and the Arts Award Voice website. Diana Walton, the Director of Upstart Projects and Arts Award Development Lead for Trinity College London has been involved with Arts Award from the very beginning. Speaking after the event, she said:
"GOLDExpo has been a twinkle in the eye since Arts Award was launched in 2005. Gold Arts Award is the pinnacle of Arts Award achievement - a level 3 qualification which really extends a young person both as an artist and as an arts leader, and often opens doors to a career in the arts. Through GOLDExpo, we wanted to showcase both the artistic work which young people achieve, and also the impetus which Gold Award can give to a creative career. It was great to see young people who did Gold many years back and are now successful arts professionals, like Faz, a musician and music educator, Dan a freelance photographer or Elspeth, an arts administrator.
Hearing young people talk at GOLDExpo confirmed my belief that Arts Award stimulates something different from other arts qualifications - it encourages experimentation, risk, adventure. As Faz put it eloquently during the panel discussion - 'You have to get out of your comfort zone to do something really creative and Gold helps you do that.' "
Event Organiser & Gold Achiever Emrys Green said:
"With so many young and accomplished artists in one place we had a vibrant day filled with creative energy. Seeing those who completed Gold in the early years of Arts Award - like myself- working alongside, even mentoring and advising, a new generation of participants and achievers is a real credit to the programme. I am so pleased we were so well attended and am blown away by the positive feedback that has been flowing in."
The Gold Expo was part of a ten months celebration of Arts Awards tenth birthday, which was officially in September of last year.
Arts Award's unique qualifications support young people to develop as artists and arts leaders and the programme develops creativity, leadership and communication skills. Arts Award is open to anyone aged up to 25, and embraces all interests and backgrounds. Gold Arts Award is the which is Level 3 on the Regulated Qualification Framework, and offers 35 UCAS points.
Arts Award is managed by Trinity College London in association with Arts Council England working with 10 regional Bridge organisations. The award is now delivered in arts centres, colleges and schools, community projects, libraries, galleries, local authorities, theatres, youth clubs and youth justice settings across the country.
Header image: Eileen Tracey