Creating a StreetArt! entry,  part of Community TakeOver  John Hansard Gallery, 2019
Creating a StreetArt! entry, part of Community TakeOver, John Hansard Gallery, 2019

Children and young people at the heart of Connecting Culture in Southampton

Children and young people from across Southampton are at the heart of a new ground-breaking project focused on addressing the question of how the city’s thriving Cultural Quarter can enrich the lives of those aged 5 to 25.

Led by the University of Southampton, Connecting Culture is a two-year project supported by a £75,000 grant from Arts Council England and involving a large consortium of arts organisations and child-focused services, to catalyse a new future in the arts. The aim is to enable young people to produce a Young People’s Manifesto and Map to be adopted by Southampton City Council’s ‘Child-Friendly Southampton’ policy and create a sustained programme that reflects their needs. In addition the project will align with major cultural developments in the city such as Southampton’s UK City of Culture bid.

This large and ambitious pilot programme will serve as a new model of cross-sector working for Southampton, leading to a step-change in how the city engages with children and young people by directly drawing on their real-life experiences to shape future actions and activities – the first ‘place-based’ case study of a city in the UK.

“We’re very excited to be launching Connecting Culture which will place strategic cultural development at the centre of our work whilst enabling the voice of children and young people across the whole city of Southampton to be heard and acted upon in such a positive way,”

– Louise Coysh, Associate Director, Arts & Culture at the University of Southampton

Programme and Aims:

Art Asia, Mela music splash workshop, 2019
Art Asia, Mela music splash workshop, 2019

The project will involve:

  • Over 350 children and young people from across all of Southampton’s 16 wards taking part in our artist-led ‘Creative Consultation’;
  • The recruitment of ten young people aged 16-25 asCultural Connectors’, a dynamic cohort of young researchers, supporting them as cultural leaders.
  • A series of Young Peoples’ Commissions’: new public artworks that will be commissioned and led by young people, including a new Young People’s Manifesto and Map, to be adopted by Southampton City Council’s ‘Child-Friendly Southampton’ policy;
  • Working with our Consortium partners to embed a culture of knowledge exchange, learning and CPD at the heart of the Connecting Culture project;
  • A Research Programme employing innovative, creative approaches, including the development of the new Culture Mapper Tool enabling the capture and use of quantitive data across Southampton.
  • A vibrant programme of Events providing a chance to share learning and project outcomes, including artwork commissions, developed during the course of the project.

Research Questions

Space to Create, John Hansard Gallery

Our research proposes to address the following questions:

  1. What role can the Cultural Quarter play in lifting the aspirations of children and young people over the longer term?
  2. How can it encourage skills and talent development?
  3. How does it extend and enhance the wider audience reach of the local community?
  4. What are the social and economic benefits to the community?
  5. What are the factors for success?
  6. What role is played by collaboration between cultural organisations and communities?