Although the Government has now promised a £1.5bn lifeline to the arts industry, new creatives still find themselves in uncharted waters when it comes to kickstarting their careers in an industry already inaccessible to many.
This was a challenge that the four young creatives at the Creative Youth Network found themselves having to adapt to in March 2020.
The Creative Youth Network’s six-month Creative Futures programme gave the artists studio space and professional support to help nurture their creativity, with a live exhibition to showcase their work in June.
The Creative Youth Network works closely with marginalised young people, empowering them to overcome the obstacles threatening their goals. Whether it is exposure into creative industries or mentors with experiences in their field, the Creative Youth Network has prides itself on championing young creatives and their ideas.
But, once the pandemic hit, the Creative Futures project has to quickly adapt to lockdown and suppor the four young people selected for the Creative Futures programme: Ryan Convery Moroney, Lucia Harry, Sophia Harari and Calum McCutcheon.
On July 2, 2020, the Creative Youth Network hosted a digital showcase of their work, followed by a panel discussion to explain their experiences creating art at this time.
Each had their own unique artist brands that they wanted to channel through the programme and, with that, their own unique set of goals.
“Art can be used as an internal conversation and tool for mental health,” says collagist and photographer, Calum. He describes his art as being a means of “looking inwards and a tool to feel better”.
“I feel like I’m at a stage where I’m secure in what I do and confident in where I want to go” adds Lucia, a collagist who uses her art to explore her heritage.
With the prospect of an in-person final exhibition being cancelled, each artist had to tailor their approach for new landscapes.
This gave Lucia the “change from physical to digital (art pieces)” making her exploration of her heritage “more interactive and accessible” to others.
Photographer, Ryan, found the transition during the pandemic a lot more challenging for his creative vision. He believed that he benefited from his ability to bounce ideas off of the others saying he “never thought about audio until Sophia (another artist) entered the room”.
Ryan said the “momentum of the project was slowed down” by limited human contact due to the pandemic.
But, as a singer, songwriter and poet, Sophia’s experience of creating in the pandemic seemed to be worlds apart from Ryan’s, saying that it was “less static” than working from a studio saying “art is an organic interaction between physical and mental spaces”.
Calum felt similarly about some of the positives to come out of working creatively from home, due to both his mental health and chronic back pain. Being at home allowed him to accommodate for his disability easy as there was no commute.
This period has been undoubtedly challenging for those trying to break their way into creative fields. But as lockdown and these unique set of obstacles slowly ease, young creatives are still greeted with the same challenges that brought them to the Creative Youth Network in the first place.
For Sophia, she hopes that projects like Creative Futures that want to champion diversity also need to inward, “moving past symbolic and tokenistic phases” and instead unpick the prejudices that lie at the heart of industry barriers.
For Lucia, she hopes that there will be more opportunities for guidance and support after Creative Futures, highlighting that “everyone needs to know what financial resources are available to them”.
Main photo: Lucia Harry