Creativity Works, Panic! Programme, 2015 – What Happened to Social Mobility in the Arts?

Here is my guest blog post from A New Direction’s website, on the experience of working on this year’s PANIC programme

On Friday (4th December) 2015, our group of 26 participants from the Panic! Programme attended the last debate in a season of discussions, screenings and gigs shining the spotlight on social mobility in the arts.

Hannah Witton vlogging workshop copy

The last debate focussed on DIY culture, a well-trodden route for mavericks and creatives for generations (think: Northern Soul, Punk, Grime, Dubstep, Acid House, Indie, Mods, SKA, and New Wave to name but a few).

Nowadays though when it comes to looking to routes into employment, especially in the arts and creative industriesis it easier or harder than it used to be to get noticed? Can you make it without the backing of an expensive education, a wealthy family, or a reality TV show? And what role does social media play in helping or hindering that journey? The panel – which included speakers ranging from Island Records A&R and marketing manager, Alex Boateng, to punk musician and film-maker, Zilah Minx – chewed over some of these issues.

At the end of the debate during the audience Q&A our very own Panic! participant, Rebecca Legister-Anderson, was able to put a question to the panel. She asked for advice on how young people can position themselves to stand out and showcase their work, especially online, in such a saturated market and what practical steps can be taken to do so. It was a good question, and not the first time the group had been part of the discussions. At the Barbican’s debate – aptly titled GRIT, looking at what barriers young people face when finding and staying in work – Symphonni, Lizzie and Nadia, all shared their own stories, adding authenticity, diversity and young voices to the mix. (For more on that debate you can read Rebecca’s GRIT blog post here and you can read about Shahira’s experience of the programme here).

As well as contributing at each of the debates, which took place at The GuardianBarbican and Goldsmiths, the group were also on hand to help out. Dressed in their Panic! t-shirts, they guided people to their seats, and documented and evaluated proceedings.

I have had the pleasure of being on some of their journey with them, for arranging some of their workshops and media training days, and over-seeing the creation of 23 pieces of fantastic content devised and produced by them, ranging from Zines, Blogs, Vlogs and Podcasts all delving a little deeper into the broad themes of the Panic! programme: Does a career in the Arts leave you forever in Debt? Are university degrees fit for purpose? Do more diverse workforces make for more dynamic and exciting places to work and train? Is London’s Reputation as a creative leader over? Is it easier or harder to make it in the Arts now and does technology help or hinder the journey? Are just some of the questions that have been posed.

Chris skinner

Along the way they’ve met and consulted with award winning story tellers, participatory arts practitioners, photographers, illustrators, journalists, radio producers, authors, bloggers, editors, festival directors, spoken word poets, ravers, ex-ravers, artists, street artists, fashion editors, professors, course-leaders, graduates, and non graduates. They’ve been on a tour of the Sky News Desk, seen a promenade performance piece by The Big House Theatre Company, and learned some serious networking skills!

They’ve also conducted their own research – from twitter polls to vox pops – set up YouTube Channels, WordPress Blogs, designed their own Zines, broadcast themselves, honed their writing, editing, interviewing, presenting and debating skills, been given a mentor, and have all completed their Arts Award Silver qualification.

In addition to unleashing their creativity, they all took part in work experience placements across London in a range of arts and media organisations including Media Trust, Hackney Museum, Somethin’ Else, The Barbican, English Pen, Create London to name but a few. Some of these placements have led to full time work offers.

Rebecca interviews Sam Friedman from LSE -GRIT

It has been a privilege to get to know them all and the range and depth of the content created has been truly impressive. Special thanks goes out to Producer Dan Moss and to Caroline and the studio team at Somethin’ Else for all the help and support with the Podcasts.

For more information on Panic! and to check out all the fantastic content in detail, please visit the Panic! blog with an introduction from course participant Kiara Noble.

For the edited highlights of the Panic! podcasts, you can listen here or for the full versions, click here. Please watch, read, enjoy all the blogs, vlogs and Zines here.

For more photos click here.

Panic! is a partnership project between Create London, The Barbican, Goldsmiths, The Paul Hamlyn Trust, Be Open, delivered by Create London and A New Direction, supported by The Mayor’s Fund for London.

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