Programmes that nurture imagination and ambition can help re-establish the arts as a transformative force, says Robert West.
“I’m interested in how art can be a force for change and how creativity is fundamental for all our lives,” said contemporary artist Bob and Roberta Smith when launching 14–18 NOW’s Make Art Not War, a programme created to encourage young people to nurture creative skills vital to wider learning and matched to future social and economic demands.
Students at Southwark College got involved with the 14–18 NOW project, the UK’s arts programme for the First World War centenary. Creative skills were at the heart of a strategic partnership between 14–18 NOW and Creative & Cultural Skills that led to the development of the Make Art Not War programme, with Bob and Roberta Smith providing the thought-provoking question “What does peace mean to you?”
Produced by ArtsMediaPeople, the project brought on board the 12 further education leadership colleges from our National Skills Academy and placed an artist mentor within each. Throughout the UK, over 1,200 students had the opportunity to spend a year working in-depth with their mentor, and 44,000 students were offered it as a UAL awarding body diploma study option exploring their responses to the provocation.
The learning potential of this programme about the world of work was not lost on those who took part. Artist mentor Yinka Danmole worked with students at Southwark College in London (National Skills Academy FE leadership members): “I’ve been very up-front with the students about how I go about my work and it’s very much a case of ‘if you can’t find the work, make it’. I wanted the project to help them understand the importance of thinking about taking a self-initiated approach to creating work or creative products.”
Student Artwork snapshots below - see the full video here 14-18 Now