SYM – Ventnor
About the project
Supporting Young Minds Ventnor was another exciting youth-led project. Working with Brave Island and Ventnor Exchange, an empty shop was secured for the month of March 2023, and young people challenged to transform it into a youth-friendly creative space.
There was a public call out to artists and three were shortlisted to pitch to a Dragons’ Den at which the young people chose to work with musician and visual artist Jess Leigh Ong.
“The fact that it was youth-led – that it was them deciding – helped with engagement and their sense of ownership. The fact that they chose the artist, meant that they had a connection and wanted to work with her.”Megan Stisted, Brave Island
This was as a strictly time-limited project – the shop was only available for a month – which was a challenge for scheduling and engagement (multiple weekly sessions meant that only one participant was able to come to every session).
However, from the start, the young people involved were outward-facing, and clear that the project was not just for them, but for all young people living, working or going to school in Ventnor; all sessions were open access to all members of the public.
Sessions for the first two weeks of the project concentrated on visual arts; creating artwork to transform the empty shop into a welcoming creative space. For the second two weeks the focus switched to music, with drop-ins for jamming and performance. Those taking part had access to a range of instruments, thanks to the generosity of Quay Arts, Paul Armfield and Aspire Ryde.
Megan said it was great to be able to offer young people an opportunity like this, and that working with Jess for the first time was one of the highlights: “Jess brought resources and musical instruments and she brought people from Aspire Ryde to take part in the project.”
The ‘pop-up’ nature of the Ventnor shop means that it doesn’t have the longevity of some of the other SYM programmes. That said, Megan is hopeful that the donated instruments may be used by Brave Island in future projects.
SYM Ventnor was funded by money raised by Independent Arts through the Big Give campaign.