Young people have something to say, know how to say it, and for good reason!
One person who is proving that young voices can and should be heard when it comes to cultural heritage is visual artist and business owner Jay Davis.
Jay has been a Don’t Settle resident for the past year, creating discussion spaces for young people to shape how we talk about personal identity, race and representation. He’s been given the opportunity to speak at the Cultural Heritage for Inclusive Growth a programme by the British Council, who are holding an international conference in Kenya – letting institutions know that young people have a lot to say on the matter.
This British Council-run programme has set a space for discussions tackling how youth involvement, contemporary cultural practice, and advances in information technology contribute to cultural heritage becoming more inclusive with audiences that haven’t traditionally engaged with heritage.
So how did Jay get involved?
When Sarah Lachin was invited to speak on a panel about Audience Development, she knew she wanted to bring a young person. As Policy Adviser for the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Sarah runs ‘Kick the Dust’, which funds Don’t Settle – and she knew it was a Don’t Settle resident she wanted to bring.
“I felt it was very important that we reflect the authentic voices of young people who are involved in Kick The Dust, and give the conference the chance to hear directly from young people involved in Kick The Dust, how the project and programme is working from a young person’s perspective” – Sarah Lachin
Jay first got involved with Don’t Settle as an audience member for Lunar Campfire, then through his interest and proactive approach to the session he became a resident. Now he channels his creativity through regular commissioned work – check out the new Don’t Settle recruitment video he made! On top of that he also runs a creative business with his friend offering his videography skills to clients, including us at Beatfreeks.
This week in Kenya, he and Sarah have tackled approaches to ‘Audience Development’ using the ‘Kick The Dust’ programme as a tool for exploration – a concept Jay knows all too well from his involvement with Lunar Campfires.
The concept that young people would be shaking up the traditional narrative of heritage is a step in the right direction.
Jay is passionate about this chance to speak on behalf of those who feel that their voice will be lost in the crowd, in particular people of colour. From being part of the planning process with Sarah, he saw it as a fantastic place to network and gain knowledge from others at the conference and feed that back in the UK.
Giving space for Jay to speak exposes the wider audience to young people in a positive setting helps remove barriers by physically putting them in the same space. It’s an opportunity for young people to showcase what they have to offer, and that as young people they can be professional; which steers away from stereotypes of millennials are lazy and don’t like working.
He’s speaking so people will listen to him in that setting and it showcases that young people do have something to say and know how to say it for good reason. The fact that he’s speaking alongside Sarah shows that diversifying audiences is not just a person of colour issue, but a humanity issue and will be taken seriously. After all, he is the target audience people want to reach.
It’s clear we’re moving in the right direction, and Jay is part of an influential movement for others that come after him.
It’s time that companies, institutions and leaders see the value of the individual’s voice.
It’s a positive sign that the British Council are seeking to make “heritage more relevant and accessible to young people”. These conversations will benefit young people of colour to get the chance of identifying themselves with their cultural heritage.
To see some of Jay’s work in action, check out an upcoming event on the 16th March he is producing with other residents. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/lunar-campfire-oh-youre-from-sandwell-too-do-you-know-my-friend-tickets-92340134829?aff=erelexpmlt