Last weekend at Behaviour Festival, theatre practitioner and Royal Conservatoire of Scotland student Stephanie Katie Hunter was joined by her open-access research collective, made up of 16-25 year-olds, and a live audience to discuss The New Bill, a manifesto-in-progress examining the role of young people in the arts and creative industries. This Sunday, she returns with a follow-up Arches Commons session – The New Bill (Amended) – at which she and her focus group will draw some conclusions from her research, and share their findings. We invited Stephanie to write a guest blog post for us, to tell us all about what she has discovered so far.
When I began researching the role of young people in the creative industries, I wasn’t sure how far I would get before wanting to give up. When setting up The New Bill, I was taking a step away from the learning I was engaging in on my programme at the Royal Conservatoire. I wasn’t sure how sustainable it would be to both educate myself on the role of young people, and attempt to instigate conversations with established organisations and venues in Scotland on my findings while attending a full-time course.
I wanted to learn more about how I was expected to behave within the venues I frequent. I wanted to learn more about what opportunities were available for young people. I wanted to learn more about what sets young people who engage in performance apart from one another. I had questions I wanted to ask both the facilitators I’d worked with as a participant and the individuals who had given me paid opportunities within performance. I didn’t know if I would be able and willing to keep asking these questions until I received answers.
Following the first Arches Commons event held by The New Bill, I feel excited and concerned. The New Bill has become something other than what I intended it to be. I set up The New Bill to ensure that the research I was engaging in and presenting was representative of other young people’s experiences within the arts. Much like I imagined it would, the collective has acted as the framing device to my research and interest. Beyond my expectations, the collective has also started a storm within me.
We, The New Bill, met on the Tuesday evening after our first Arches Commons session. We reflected on the event and spoke about what the format of the Arches Commons offered both us and those that attended. Our conversation was taken up by our reflections on one part of the event. The word ‘want’ was mentioned when discussing how we, as individual artists and as an industry, provide access to the arts. When does ‘want’ warrant ‘get’? When is need not enough?
One of the phrases which sticks in my mind from last Sunday is: “an event where the agenda is set by young people”. The New Bill has encouraged me to think about what the work I make in the future can do for those around me. The process of creating The New Bill and being involved with the Arches Commons has forced me to think about who is represented both within performance and the creative industries as a whole. What can we (I) do to make a difference?
We had framed the Arches Commons events as a space for The New Bill to introduce its manifesto. Our manifesto was to act as a document to challenge and celebrate how young people are perceived and received as collaborators within the creative industries. Following our process and the first Commons session, we feel this manifesto has become a document for individuals and organisations to use when questioning their own intentions when collaborating with young people. We wonder if by being more rigorous and/or transparent with our process of determining the capabilities and role of young people in the creative industries, we may be a step closer to meeting the real (and not perceived) needs and wants of the individuals involved in collaboration.
I am filled with excitement and concern. Excitement for the future. Excitement for the potential of the research, the rich and fulfilling prospects of making work for and with other young people and the future of The New Bill. Concern for the questions I am yet to find answers for. Concern for the young people who are not in as fortunate a position as I am, in relation to access to education, support and resources. Concern for the unavoidable difficulty ahead in trying to be a part of an arts community while also critiquing it.
Part of Behaviour Festival