Levelling the Playing Field

Levelling the Playing Field was designed as a creative micro-cluster development programme. Future Foundry identified clusters of young people with similar passions and interests from their youth network and brought them together to develop events and initiatives.

Reading Time: 5 mins

Recommended: Young People, Artists, Social Enterprises, Volunteers.

Impact: Creative Arts in Kent, Circular economy and Recycling Initiatives, Business Enterprise in Kent and Young Persons

Special Thanks to: Future Foundry Members, Waste Free Fashion Collective, Dover Repair Cafe Members, Ceramic Art Dover Members, Dover Pride

Photo Credit: Future Foundry, Dover Pride

Levelling the Playing Field

Levelling the Playing Field

Contact us or email info@futurefoundry.org.uk

Levelling the Playing Field was developed in response to Future Foundry’s observation that the marginalised and working class young people who were training with them were missing out on opportunities in the wider creative industries as they were more likely to be viewed by the sector as ‘participants’ rather than ‘producers’, regardless of their creative ability or qualifications.

This was in contrast to these young people’s peers who presented as ‘middle class’, in that they usually had studied or trained to creative degree level and were more comfortable in discussing art and culture, or socially, had the ‘right, spoken accent’. The middle class young people were being invited to take the lead and the marginalised young people invited to ‘take part’.

This lack off opportunity creates a barrier to gaining industry experience and developing the networks, confidence, professional recognition and opportunities for career progression that are available to other young people. Future Foundry felt that being limited to creative start-ups and freelancing constrained young people from developing the skills needed to expand their ideas and aspirations through project development.

Levelling the Playing Field was designed as a creative micro-cluster development programme. Future Foundry identified clusters of young people with similar passions and interests from their youth network and brought them together to develop events and initiatives. This process was designed to develop young cultural leaders and creative micro-clusters, offering leadership development opportunities for marginalised young people and creating clusters, which are identified as a model to super charge creative industries development.

Micro-clusters included young people interested in LGBTQI+ issues, waste free makers, waste free fashion designers, plastics free activists, ceramicists, materials innovation makers, printmakers and fine artists. The activity was led by young people from working class and lower socio-economic backgrounds, and included female, LGBTQI+, disabled, and neurodiverse young people.

The aim was to develop grass roots creative and cultural activity and enable young people to gain leadership skills, represent their point of view, transform how they are perceived and bypass the creative industries ‘gate keepers’.

The first programmes took place in 2019 and 2020 (through lockdown) and Future Foundry are proud to have co-produced the first ever Dover Pride, Ceramic Art Dover (multigenerational collective), the Waste Free Fashion Collective and Dover Repair Café.

In year one, 85 young people gained professional industry experience. Of these, 11 creative producers took the lead to develop and co-produce a diverse range of projects, events and social enterprises; 3 young people were nominated to receive Local Trust Leadership Training Awards; and, 3 gained social funding for business initiatives. The programme delivered 52 event and workshop days attracting 1,800 participants, audience numbers of over 10,000, an online reach of over 130,000 and an increase in volunteering for Future Foundry of 400%.

In year two (during covid-19 lockdown) the programme involved 13 creative producers, 89 Practitioners, 705 Participants, supported partnerships to create 84 live stream and video workshops. an online reach of 254,011.

A key finding from this programme was that it is critical that young marginalised and working-class creative people are enabled and empowered to take the lead, have a voice and produce creative and cultural activity that is representative of themselves, their history, their passions and their community. It is also critical to understand that this community is an intelligent, appreciative, culture-loving community.

Levelling the Playing Field demonstrated that Creative Micro-cluster development is a highly effective model for enabling marginalised and working class young people to develop leadership skills; gain experience as creative producers; and feel confident enough to take ownership over their creative expression.

‘When Pride happened the Town Council couldn’t do enough for us – this is how it should be. This is what leadership is about, creating bridges.’

Emma, Dover Pride Founder, programme participant 2019

‘Future foundry has helped me time and time again. Through gaining new ‘physical’ skills, like working with new machines and materials or pushing me to think differently; about sustainability and being more socially conscious. Future foundry continues to be the only creative refuge for young people trying to work out who they really are and how to share that with the world.’

Sam, LTPF programme participant 2019

Dover Pride

Dover Pride is an event for the whole community, it is a series of events to raise awareness, support, self-worth, respect, courage and visibility; to reflect on the history, politics and resilience of the LGBTQ+ community.
Website: www.doverpride.com
Instagram: @doverpride
Facebook: Dover Pride
Twitter: @dover_pride

Ceramic Art Dover

Ceramic Art Dover is an intergenerational collective of East Kent ceramicists; we share a passion for clay and building a community through the arts. We provide opportunities to explore the materiality of working with clay through a variety of ceramic based activities such as community workshops, markets and skills sharing, to aid the development of professional practices. We believe in offering everyone the opportunity to experience and access clay/ceramics and widen the perception of Dover as a creative town. Our ambitions are to connect with exciting, contemporary practitioners and develop Dover into a creative hub. We aim to increase the accessibility for the wider community and provide a pottery workshop for every primary school aged child.
Instagram: @ceramicartdover
Facebook: Ceramic Art Dover

Dover Repair Cafe

The Repair Cafe is based in Biggin Hall, one evening a month. Bring along your broken items to be fixed, stop them going into landfill. Being able to take something that wasn't working and give it back to the person and say: 'Here is your thing that was broken and now it works again' - that's a lot of fun. Want to have fun too? Consider becoming a volunteer!
Facebook: @doverrepaircafe

Waste Free Fashion Collective

Waste Free Fashion Collective create high-vibe couture garments from 100% waste materials. They communicate the environmental problems we face, by reimagining our waste materials in new and exciting ways, preventing them from going to landfill.
Facebook: The Waste Free Fashion Collective