Inspiring the Next Generation in Birmingham

1 Nov 2014

mac Birmingham’s Next Generation programme, in collaboration with ARTIST ROOMS, explores the work of young people in galleries and the role that galleries play in young people’s lives.

Through the project, mac has been able to provide a space in which young people can deconstruct the work of Robert Therrien and create their own responses, developing events and initiatives that can be shared and celebrated with their peers.

Projects like this are so valuable for young people who are at a transitional stage in their lives and I believe that, ever increasingly, it is crucial that arts organisations become more confident and assured when articulating the importance of these creative transactions; the ephemeral, the life affirming, the things that makes us cry or scream or want to dance and sing or just simply get us moving keep us going and make us who we are. I hope that they can continue to enable young people to go through a process of creative discovery, enable them to use creativity to deconstruct the worlds around them and make their pathways clearer. Galleries, arts centres and creative venues can be a great environment for play, experimentation and risk taking, and it’s vitally important they are continually supported, so that they can provide those creative exchanges for young people to move, provoke and inspire them.

I remember as a young student of 20 being instantly amazed when a friend introduced me to the artist Joseph Beuys. I was always into theatre and music but when I discovered his work, it really had a long lasting effect on me. His ideas, his approach to making work, the way he constructed his persona, all switched something on in me. How could a post-war artist making work with fat, felt and dead animals, relate to a working class lad who lived on a council estate in a post-industrial northern town? For me it was the aesthetic that first struck a chord; the rawness and earth-like quality of his materials which somehow reminded me of playing with objects in my gran and grandad’s back garden. But most of all it was his exploration and concern with ecological and humanitarian issues that really turned me onto how art and culture can really help us to understand and deconstruct the world that we live in.

That introduction, and subsequently a switch in my thinking, really set me on the path of creative discovery and encouraged me to pursue a career in the creative industries. More recently, in my current role as Next Generation producer, my aim is to provide young people with positive and life affirming creative experiences to aid self-confidence and resilience, give them access to professional artists and companies, in order to inspire and reignite their passions or enable them to find new ones.

For me that’s why it’s so important to have programmes like ARTIST ROOMS which ensures that the work of contemporary artists aren’t sat in vaults, but are toured across the country and shared with as many people as possible. Even more crucially that creative organisations and learning teams have access to funds from organisations like Arts Council England and the Art Fund to help them find creative ways to engage and develop new audiences of people who can connect and relate to the work and to hopefully inspire the Next Generation of young people.

Daniel Whitehouse is the Next Generation producer at mac birmingham.

The Next Generation programme at mac birmingham has been established to shape mac’s provision for young people as producers, ambassadors and creative consumers. mac provides creative opportunities for young people in challenging circumstances and those at the beginning of their creative journeys, through to supporting young emerging artists and enabling young people to follow their creative pathways.

mac develops a range of creative programmes to challenge, inspire and reinvigorate the creative resilience of young people across the city and beyond. Through programs such as New Shoes,Cannon Hill Collective, Creative ‘How to’ sessions and Creative Space, mac has enabled young people to collectively develop their ideas and interpersonal skills, navigate the creative industries and make and develop their practice in a supportive environment.