Creating Links Conference

Posted in Blog on 16th December 2014

Hannah, our projects’ assistant recently attended a conference at the Oval house in London that aimed to share best practice and new research in targeted youth arts. Hannah shares her experience here:

The conference brought together people in varying professions that work towards a common goal of using the creative arts to benefit and contribute towards transformative change in young people’s lives. The conference focused on the issues currently being faced in the UK with regard to accessibility, funding, measuring results and gaining recognition. It aimed to re-think and re- work the current discourse surrounding social change and creative arts through a set of seminars, workshops and lectures.

I went to the conference keen to find out more about creative arts in the UK and the role it plays in positive health outcomes as well as improving or changing outcomes in the lives of vulnerable young people, especially those who wouldn’t otherwise be able to access the arts. I wanted to see if any of the discussions bared any relevance to Music as Therapy International’s work abroad and in the UK. Interestingly, many of the issues being discussed were similar to those that we face with our international projects.

Throughout the day there were examples from various arts projects and research projects which worked with or focused on different groups in society to try and make creative arts more accessible to those that it wouldn’t otherwise be.

The Research and Evaluation Manager at Youth Music spoke passionately about why music matters, clearly a strong belief of Music as Therapy International. He described proven outcomes from children’s involvement in music including improved communication, social interaction, and leadership skills. Unfortunately, wealthier families are more able to make the benefits of music education accessible to their children whereas this is not as accessible to less privileged children and young people in the UK. Part of the research he presented found that music offered young people a validation of ‘their voice’, as well as an opportunity to talk about and think about their emotional literacy and form their own opinions. This in turn encouraged and gave the young persons the skills and confidence to take part in activities in the wider community.

Although the conference left me feeling positive and certain about the importance of participatory and creative arts as a medium for positive social change in our society, it also left me feeling frustrated. Frustrated that there is insufficient funding to make these projects and services accessible to those who are most in need and frustrated that the current economic and political system does not support the integration of the arts as a tool for bringing about social change and improving health outcomes – and unfortunately this system is entrenched and difficult to infiltrate.

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