Derby Voice Press Release
AffiliationUniversity of Derby
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AbstractDerby Voice is a research project led by University of Derby academics Dr Rhiannon Jones and Dr Daithí McMahon that engaged 300 young people from areas of deprivation in Derby and at risk of exclusion from education to create a public art installation. The exhibition ran for four days (July 16-19, 2021) on the grounds of Derby Cathedral and attracted 80-110 visitors each day. The artistic and dialogic methodology used the Social Higher Education Depot (S.H.E.D) to create a co-designed site-specific installation in a prominent city centre location to offer a platform for artistic expression and act as an instigator for change to enable and empower young people in the city. The physical installation was designed by University of Derby students, in consultation with the research leads, and responded to the theme of youth voice. As well as featuring the work of several community development partners from the city, the researchers commissioned seven young Derby artists to create bespoke work through their medium (music, illustration, fine art, photography, videography, graphic design and urban art) with the objective of offering a springboard for their burgeoning artistic careers. Derby Voice provided young people with opportunities to share their contemplations and reflections on their city and their current concerns – Black Lives Matter (BLM), education reform, employment and personal and mental well-being - issues exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The research identified key barriers including the lack of cultural integration outside of school and the positive impact of financial and family support on young artists. The aim of this project was to enhance well-being, widen access to the arts and increase cultural opportunities for young people in Derby. The researchers also aimed to instigate a shift in thinking about formal education and redefine the way young people’s voices are understood and can influence policy and act as a call for social, cultural and political change. The research highlights the benefits of artistic installations as cultural and consultation spaces for stakeholders, the public and policy-makers to engage directly with urban youth, through creative place-making. The research actively contributed to the cultural offer in Derby and highlighted the benefits of socially-engaged art with the aspiration that it could instigate similar projects in the future.
CitationMcMahon, D., and Jones, R. (2021). 'Derby Voice' [Exhibition]. Derby. 16 -19 July.
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