Culture Connectors Collectives was a collaboration between Plymouth City Council, Youth Justice Service, Plymouth Arts Cinema, Plymouth’s independent cinema venue and Fotonow CIC, a media social enterprise. The collaboration was funded by Pop+ Collectives, which supports a minimum of three organisations to work on a shared objective, which was ideal for taking our plans forward.
This collaboration emerged from a roundtable event held by Fotonow in early 2020 to help creative and voluntary sector organisations discuss barriers and opportunities to support young people to get more involved in the cultural life of the city. Arts venues, including Plymouth Arts Cinema said they wanted to engage young people but lacked the time and specialist knowledge to develop this work. Organisations working with young people wanted to explore more diverse and creative activities for young people. While recognising the benefits of engagement in creative activity, they said they lacked time and networks to pursue these opportunities.
I think the majority of children, especially the ones that we work with, would never think that was something that could be available to them. Youth Justice Service Key Worker and Connector.
Central to the collaboration and the design of the project was the role of ‘Connector’, based on the Youth Justice Service model of a key worker, who acted as a mediator between the young person and the new activity and environment that Plymouth Arts Cinema and Fotonow represented.
“Some parents or young people are not confident in going online and filling that form. So there’s all different sorts of barriers there, that just, we need to be aware of that, obviously, as workers, we can help break that down.” Justice Service Key Worker and Connector.
Young people and the connectors were introduced to the project at a special screening at the Arts Cinema. This was followed by a series of filmmaking workshops over six weeks at Fotonow. Young people and their Connectors worked closely with staff from Fotonow and Plymouth Arts Cinema to produce a short animated film based on a story they devised and filmed in the sessions.
Each session began with a hot drink and a check in at the cafe. This was crucial time built into the sessions to help young people ease into the activity and to get to know all the facilitators and adults they were working with in an informal setting. The sessions focused on developing the young people’s ideas for the film from scratch, using storyboards for ideation and planning the shots and script. They created the sets, the characters and assisted with filming and editing and sound production with the team at Fotonow.
The final short animation is the film they wanted to make. The film was shown at a dedicated screening at Plymouth Arts Cinema attended by family and workers on the project, the group also programmed the main feature film for the evening, The Lion King.
“It’s something to focus on. Every week, we’re going to do this, which brings conversation then on with parents, oh, Mum, Dad, this is what’s happening with friends. For one of the children I’m going to refer to especially, this project has then created conversation with family, with friends.” Youth Justice Service Key Worker and Connector.
This pilot represents a very resource intensive way of working. We were focused on finding out what kind of support an individual young person would need to engage with a new activity and with an arts venue and how the strengths and resources of each of the three organisations could combine to deliver the project. Having the time and capacity to work in close collaboration with Youth Services and with Plymouth Arts Cinema was a great learning opportunity, which gave all three organisations an understanding of what young people need to take part in new activities and co-production. The evidence of positive outcomes for the group has created a clear template for working in this way on a bigger scale.
“Show the young people how it comes up on the big screen, this is the end result, it’s gonna take time to get there but this is what’s gonna happen.”
The short animated film ‘Romance Royal’ is an original take on the timeless classic of Romeo and Juliet – watch it below!