This week Collabor-8 Collective have been writing letters for the future and wishing new years wishes for other young people who may access our programme. I thought I would share one of mine for the collective…
We are more than half way through Circuit and I am 26 – and therefore am no longer in the age bracket.
I would like to say that I feel like an adult, that I have carved a clear identity for myself and that I know exactly what I am doing and how to achieve things with dignity and the kind of effortless prowess we assign to movie stars on the red carpet, but unfortunately this is not 100% true. And if there is one thing I have learnt growing up, it’s that this feeling probably won’t go away.
It is something that keeps being bought up amongst our core groups and indeed amongst my peers, that with every age milestone there is a period of re-learning ones values, of reflection and self growth, and it is clear that although cathartic, these times of change are difficult.
Waking up 26 and not feeling anymore adult than when I went to bed being 25, got me thinking about the individuals who engage with Circuit and what it would mean to graduate from the programme. Will they be upset to leave? What will they feel they have gained from their experience? What is next in store for them? What will they achieve? Will they feel secure enough to move on?
Many of the young people who engage in our programme and groups, do so for experience, to enable them on or up their chosen career ladders and maybe with the hope of being employed at the gallery itself. Those who are new to the arts wish to meet friends and like-minded individuals, because perhaps they don’t meet people like that at school or because they have just moved cities after university. Whether or not the initial reason is work related, the intentions are the same – to meet people.
And through Circuit this is exactly what they do. I have been lucky enough to be involved with an online conversation with the core group at Nottingham Contemporary – often sitting on the sidelines, witnessing the dialogue between these once complete strangers. Even if the meetings are the only place where the young people actually meet, their support for each other is fascinating.
I have seen them ask each other for artwork advice or how to complete projects to do with Circuit, I have seen them plan their journeys together and ask with concern if people have gotten home ok after a meeting. I have seen them share stories, jokes, good news and bad, and I have seen them support each other, through bad grades, nervous applications and times of change. Circuit is where people meet their network.
People (and especially young people I meet with) always think that networking is a dirty word, that it means sucking up to people at launches and talking to people you would rather avoid. Circuit is allowing future artists, curators and educators to create new types of networks, a place of support and encouragement that is difficult to find when you wonder the art world alone.
It is allowing diverse young people who would probably never even bump into each other – let alone share ideas, meet and learn from each other. I hope that our young people can graduate from the programme realising the potential for what they have gained – something which I wish I had done when I was officially a young person.
Although we cannot employ all the young people who come through our doors, we have set something up to give them a base, a sounding board and a way of collaborating that, even in times of re-evaluation of themselves, I hope will keep them secure and achieving.