Skip to main content

Giving children and young people a voice in city culture

Published: 8 February 2022

Led by the University of Southampton, Connecting Culture is a 2-year project supported by a £75,000 grant from Arts Council England. It also involves a large consortium of arts organisations and child focused services. The project launched in 2019 and explores how the city can enrich the experiences of children and young people aged 5 to 25. It is the first ‘place-based’ case study of a city in the UK and it is intended to become a model for cross-sector working in Southampton.

"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 and Culture

The project has several stands:

  • an artist-led ‘creative consultation’ with children and young people from across Southampton
  • a group of 10 ‘cultural connectors’, recruited from young people aged 16 to 25 to develop and commission public artworks
  • a 'young people’s manifesto and map' to be adopted by Southampton City Council to create a cultural programme reflecting the needs of children and young people
  • project partners who will create a culture of knowledge exchange, learning and continuing professional development (CPD)
  • a research programme including the development of a cultural mapping tool to capture quantitative data, based on the work of the Software Research Group (SRG)

Research programme

The research programme underpinning the project is led by Dr Ronda Gowland-Pryde, Public Engagement Spectrum Manager. Her team will use a range of methods to map individual experiences, including:

  • workshops
  • journal entries
  • drawing
  • photography
  • blogs
  • vlogs

The team will use the data from the research to develop and trial cultural activities.

First milestone

The creative consultation took place in 2021. Around 600 children and young people took part in 25 workshops at 15 different school and youth settings. The workshops were run by local artists and involved visual art, creative writing and dance.

Despite the challenges of the pandemic there was a huge appetite for creative activities as the country came out of lock-down. Dr Ronda Gowland-Pryde and her team are looking at the ideas from the workshops to decide the best ways to take them forward.

"It was clear that the young people really welcomed being listened to, knowing that they would be contributing to the future of arts and cultural provision for children and young people in the city."

Dr Ronda Gowland-Pryde