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Emerge: Verbal Arts Festivals

Insights – Project evaluations

Emerge delivered a series of verbal arts festivals across the Midlands over the course of three years.

Emerge delivered a series of verbal arts festivals across the Midlands over the course of three years. The festivals were designed by young people, for young people, and in collaboration with young artists. The Mighty Creatives, one of Arts Council England’s Bridge Organisation for the East Midlands, worked in partnership with UK Young Artists and Arts Connect to deliver the Emerge Programme.

You can download the final report which draws together three years of learning from the programme below, and hear from one of the key architects of the project’s success.

Clare Janes is a development manager at The Mighty Creatives and was the Relationship Manager for the Emerge Programme. Here she answers five questions on how the project went:

1. This evaluation shows that the Emerge programme is unapologetically ambitious by design and in year 3 there has been a significant scaling up of Lab activity and the depth and breadth of festivals as a result of the momentum achieved in years 2 and 1 – showing the importance of securing funding for long term work with young people to enable them to build their skills and confidence, mentor their peers and become effective leaders.

2. The thing I’m proudest about in this evaluation is the depth and range of experiences that young people have had throughout the programme, from one – off creative interventions at festival events to young people writing, producing and directing festival content, planning marketing campaigns, fundraising and doing Gold Arts Award.  Across all the Labs feedback from children and young people has been overwhelmingly positive about their experience and the process of taking a lead in creating a festival within their community, has provided them with a focus and also an opportunity to have fun.

3. The thing I would do differently if we did this project again is concentrate from the outset on the importance of young people’s sense of place and pride in their own community (the proportion of participants that feel engaged with their local community has risen from 60% to 84%) and allow them to explore the depth of talent and opportunity within it, by engaging an Emerge Producer to work alongside the young people and the commissioned artist, who has real local knowledge and can work to support the engagement of more groups and young people in the creation of the festival.

4. An interesting fact in this evaluation is whilst the Emerge programme is focused on delivering positive outcomes for the Emerge artists and participating children and young people, wider partners have recognised the potential for the arts festivals to contribute to a range of place-based outcomes.  In Cannock the Emerge festival has built momentum and confidence in the Town Centre Partnership and community more widely, to incorporate arts events as a key part of a new programme of animation in the centre of Cannock.  The Emerge programme had provided a model which has highlighted the positive contribution that local children and young people can provide in developing ideas and content for local events.

5. The thing I still wish we could understand more is how we can involve children and young people more effectively in the governance of the Emerge programme, at the strategic and steering group level, so that they have an overview of the work that is taking place all across the region and can support with ideas and innovations.

View the Project

Arts Young people


England Wolverhampton
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