The temptation to fill one’s diary with conferences is hard to avoid if you’re an early career researcher. This is particularly true if, like me, your work crosses different sectors and disciplines. On the advice of my supervisors, I tried to tackle my FoMO (Fear of Missing Out) by attempting to be as strategic and selective as possible when choosing conferences to attend.
As my research involves the investigation of partnerships between arts and youth organisations, I decided to focus my attention on the following categories:
1. Major youth sector conferences
2. Arts conferences dealing with youth programming, partnerships, marginalised publics, the politics of space or digital collaboration
3. Academic education and youth studies conferences
Below are little summaries of some of my conference highlights for 2014, with links to further content for the curious or confused…
The ludic museum
31 Jan-1 February, Tate Liverpool
A conference concerned with play and curatorial practice, with the museum as a contradictory space of participation and regulation, and with the emergence of the child as a political subject. Abstracts and bios are downloadable here.
Gallery education and the digital future
6 February, Tate Britain (in partnership with ARTIST ROOMS and engage)
A rare opportunity to look at digital engagement and partnerships from a gallery education perspective. Film documentation of the event is here.
The challenges of tackling self-harm and suicide in school age children and young people
24 January, The University of Nottingham
Mental health professionals and researchers came together to discuss rising self-harm rates amongst young people, and to dispel common myths around youth suicide. Social media, cultural influences and partnership working were key themes, and special attention was paid to research around young people in or leaving care. More info and presentations here.
Innovation in youth work – creative practice in challenging times
13 May, YMCA George Williams College, London
A fascinating day of talks and workshops, unpacking the concept of innovation and debating the future of youth work. Reflections from the event can be found here and here.
Taste after Bourdieu
15-16 May, Chelsea College of Arts, London
A conference examining taste through the structures of the museum, the gallery, the street and the home. The issue of taste making in major institutions such as Tate dominated the first panel. More info here.
Social arts practice and mental health
12 June, Chelsea College of Arts, London
Part of Anxiety Arts Festival (a new programme of cross-art form events taking place across London) this panel focused on creative collaboration with adult carers from the perspective of an artist and care worker, and a partnership between Peckham Platform and day care centre Three Cs. More info on Anxiety Arts Festival here.
What is radical in youth and community work now?
28 June, Newman University Birmingham
Youth and community work lecturers and researchers presented papers critiquing the government’s efforts to ‘control’ youth services, and championing the radical, emancipatory foundations of youth work practice. More info here.
Cultural value and the digital
7 July, Tate Britain, London
The culmination of a series of AHRC supported events, this conference sought to confront analogue tendencies and values in museums and to stimulate discussion around the potential of networked practices and digital investment/participation beyond broadcasting models. Details on the Cultural Value project and the final report are here.
11 July, Brunel University, London
The closing event of an exciting research project investigating how celebrity representations shape young people’s values, aspirations and understandings of class and gender. Listen to recordings from the event here.
Artswork’s Arts Award conference
16 July, BFI Southbank
A congregation of arts practitioners and educators from the South East reflecting upon the development of Arts Award – achievements, challenges and future opportunities. We also heard about the BFI’s partnerships with cultural institutions, schools and local authorities (presentation here).
1-5 September, Porto
The annual conference of the European Educational Research Association hosted a daunting number of delegates and papers. Particular highlights were the sessions: Investigating Rural Youth, Education, Identities and Place and Children’s Production Of Space.
18-19 September, Royal College of Art, London
A brilliant collection of presentations and installations covering a range of topics – from hyperlocal publishing to web citizenship. Of key interest to my research was Helen Manchester’s paper: ‘Teenage Kicks? Exploring cultural value and citizenship from a youth perspective’. Some further info on this work is here. Visit the Creative Citizens website here.
BERA annual conference
23-25 September, Institute of Education, London
The youth studies special interest group hosted several useful sessions at the British Educational Research Association’s 2014 conference. Janet Batsleer also gave an excellent paper on the history of professional training in youth work titled: ‘Educating for a disappearing profession? The case of youth and community work’.
24-25 October, Tate Liverpool
Highly relevant for the PhD research, this conference explored the ethics, politics and value of collaboration, as well as methodologies for co-creation. The talk ‘Collaboration – you’re doing it wrong’ by Yvette Sullivan was especially thought provoking, as were all the keynotes. See a summary here.
6 November, The Copper Box Arena, London
A gathering of key players from the UK youth sector, featuring heated political debate on cuts and the non-statutory status of the youth service. The event also marked the launch of the Centre for Youth Impact, which sparked lots of talk about impact assessment. Details and storify links here.
7 November, University of Birmingham
This event (organised by the campaign group In Defence of Youth Work) brought together academics and practitioners to critically dissect the previous day’s Creative Collisions conference and galvanize support for a proposed Early Day Motion lobbying for policy change around the funding of youth services.
engage conference: disruptive influences? Innovation & gallery education
10-11 November, Leeds
The national association for gallery education hosted two days of presentations and workshops with a significant focus on digital innovation. Highlights included Rohan Gunatillake’s talk on confronting the rhetoric surrounding collaboration and Ben Eaton’s crowd-sourced manifesto for the sector. Storify here.
The politics of participation in museums
12 November, Royal Pavilion, Brighton
A great series of discussions on the central positioning of participation in the museum and on discourses of ‘coproduction’ between institutions and communities. Featuring a talk by Piotr Bienkowski, Project Director of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s Our Museum: Communities and Museums as Active Partners.
Creating links conference
3 December, Ovalhouse, London
Part of Creating Change, this rich event subverted the traditional conference format in several ways, and brought together programmers from across the visual and performing arts, social workers and spokespeople from major youth organisations. Conversation was steered firmly towards social and political action around and with young people ‘at risk’ and towards debate about the evidence base for this work.