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Introducing Ayrshire Youth Arts Network

Ayrshire Youth Arts Network Logo

As one of nine Youth Arts Hubs funded through Time to Shine, the Ayrshire Youth Arts Network (AYAN) aims to champion youth arts activity across the region.

AYAN coordinator Sarah Ferries explains the Hub's ambitions and plans for the year ahead...

Tell us a bit more about Ayrshire Youth Arts Network?

Ayrshire Youth Arts Network is a youth led arts initiative that will shape and enhance multi arts activity across the region and is made up of a consortium of partners including: Ayr Gaiety Partnership, Impact Arts, North Ayrshire Council, South Ayrshire Council, East Ayrshire Council, CVO East Ayrshire, Ayrshire College and University of the West of Scotland.

We aim to: connect young people, artists, cultural venues and supporting organisations; create more opportunities for collaboration, innovation and progression in the arts; and inspire more young people to participate in the arts across all skill levels

Young people are at the centre of the running of AYAN, can you tell us more about their role and the importance it plays in the ethos of the network?

Young people are 100% at the heart of what we do and how we run. In the last few months we've put together a core group of 16-25 year olds from across Ayrshire to be our Youth Advisory Group who will help us shape the future of the arts in Ayrshire. Our Steering Group is now made up of 9 partners and 11 young people, so as you can see young people are the majority. We're keen to make sure AYAN is a platform for young people to have a voice and I believe we're succeeding in this.

The Youth Advisory Group’s main responsibility will be selecting youth arts proposals (from young people, professionals, organisations and venues) for us to support, creating more opportunities for other young people to participate in the arts. The outline for these applications is currently being worked on by the AYAN team and the Youth Advisory Group, all of which we will share via our networks and partners in the coming month.

I'm only 20 years old and from Ayrshire, which I think is very important. I was in involved in some arts activities when growing up, however I think there could be so much more done to encourage young people and I’m so happy to be involved. We are extremely proud to have so many great young people on board and look forward to developing as a team together. This really is for young people and led by young people.

The branding for AYAN was created by young people, can you tell us about this process in the lead up to the launch?

We wanted to ensure that our brand was representative of what we do, but also connected well with our target audience – young people. To achieve this we worked with a graphic designer, members of our Youth Advisory Group and Ayrshire College students to collaborate and put together our brand. Our graphic designer Darren Gate led on the creation of our brand and we worked with our young people over three workshop sessions.

This was a great experience and it was wonderful to see so many different ideas from the young people. We simply gave them all the information and some key words to think about when brainstorming and they got to work on their ideas both as groups and then as individuals. We had a unanimous decision on the design we went with, and Darren then worked on that particular idea with the young people to perfect it (fonts, colours, layout, tagline etc.).

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The design is bright and fun which is exactly what we wanted and in line with our aims to inspire creativity and fun. The map of Ayrshire is the main image in the logo, split into geometrical shapes to represent how we are bringing the different areas together. The young people really understood what we stand for and I couldn’t have asked for a better outcome. They even helped us come up with different merchandise ideas and came along to support us at the launch event, which was lovely. 

The start of a new year always brings excitement and plans, what have you got planned for 2015 and what do you think the highlights will be?

Yes, the New Year definitely seems to have brought a lot of excitement! I personally think this is going to be an amazing year and I can’t wait to see the results of everyone’s hard work and dedication. The last 6 months has largely involved a lot of planning and setting things up, and although that is a very important thing to do, I can’t wait to really get things going. Our launch event in November was a big success and it’s been great to see more people engaging, but we want more!

One aspect we’re definitely going to focus on in the next few months is raising awareness of who we are, and we have some exciting ideas on how we will do this. Currently, our two main focuses are: launching the AYAN Arts For All (working title) applications and opening our Digital Hubs (3 at first and 6 by the end of 2015).

AYAN Arts For All will enable local people to apply with ideas to work with us and get our support. Our primary focus is always on the young people in our area, however we're also keen to support local artists and organisations who are trying to make a difference to young people’s lives.

The Digital Hubs are physical places across the three Ayrshire’s where young people will be able to attend free film/digital media workshops. We have two confirmed already and they are aiming to launch by the end of February. Once these are going we'll see an increase straight away in the amount of youth arts activity happening in Ayrshire and we are looking forward to seeing the difference we can make. I genuinely believe this will be great for the community and will hopefully bring the people of Ayrshire together.

More info 

To find out more about Ayrshire Youth Arts Network visit their website, follow them on Facebook and Twitter or contact sarah.ferries@ayrgaiety.co.uk

This article was published on 13 Feb 2015