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Artsadmin Youth: exploring collaborative arts engagement with young people

An abstract illustration with lots of orange, yellow, teal, pink and green wiggly shapes dancing around on a lilac background
Illustration by Lucy Grainge

Artsadmin Youth, our engagement programme for young people, has been in hibernation since early 2022. As we prepare to relaunch a new iteration of Artsadmin Youth for 2024-26, we are hosting a panel discussion bringing together youth participant and engagement sector voices to reflect on past and present youth programmes.

Following this discussion, panellists and attendees will split into workshop groups and explore topics relevant to the conversation of programming with young people. Including: 

  • What do young people look for in arts programmes? 
  • How might sector workers and participants measure the success of programmes differently? 
  • What have arts workers and participants learnt from each other in the process of working together?  
  • How can we talk about some of the repeated challenges like participant retention, trust, responsibility, autonomy and legacy – productively, but with care?  

Engagement Producer Maya Kincaid and Engagement Assistant Sophie Lin welcome six panellists and a chairperson for this event, including both people who have programmed or led arts projects with young people and young people who have participated in arts programmes.

Artsadmin Youth is supported by BE PART, through the Creative Europe programme of the European Union, and Arts Council England

Chairperson: Nikki Mendu
Nqatyiswa Mendu, also known as Nikki (she/her) is a facilitator, social change practitioner and communications expert. She is a member of arts studio Invisible Flock as Engagement and Communications Coordinator for Land Body Ecologies, a transdisciplinary global collective of artists, designers, researchers, expert communities and activists exploring environmental change impacts on mental health.  

Her artistic journey has seen her selected as a Young Barbican Youth Consultant for the Barbican Youth Takeover Festival; an advisor and facilitator for Cor-Creative Mentorship (a student-led peer-mentoring project focused on accessibility into the arts); artist in residence for  Camden Art Centre Transformative Futures Youth Artist residency programme, and youth collective member of Camden Art Centre youth programme. Previously in her career, she has international experience providing communications and design support to climate change research led by arts and research group Khamalathu Women’s Group (an independent Malawian research team); The AfroFest (annual Cape-Town heritage day festival) and delivering youth workshops with the Make A Difference Leadership Foundation (South African scholarship provider for individuals between grade 7 – tertiary education). 

Nikki is passionate about the role of creative methodologies, interdisciplinarity and dialogue in social change. Through a socially engaged practice that makes use of participatory workshop facilitation, co-creation and enquiry, she holds a particular interest in meaningful exchanges through art around the environment, human rights, health and gender.  

Nikki holds a Master of Arts in Development Studies from the Institute of Development Studies: University of Sussex and a Bachelor’s degree with Honours in Business Science in Marketing from the University of Cape Town. Born and raised in South Africa, she currently lives and works in London.

Akhera Williams is a poet, graduate geographer and community organiser from South London. Since she was a young child her favourite ways of communicating have been through poetry and visual arts and this has shaped her practice until today. From 2017- 2021 she was part of the South London gallery’s youth collective, the Art Assassins. During a similar period of time she was also a young community organiser and changemaker within the Brixton-based, youth justice organisation, The Advocacy Academy, and a member of Consented Youth, a school based critical education programme and magazine.  

From her experience in arts and cultural spaces she continued to work in the art world doing youth engagement, first as an Artist Assistant at Drawing Room gallery in Elephant and castle and then from 2021 as a Workshop Assistant and Creative Learning Facilitator at Bold Tendencies Gallery in Peckham. Through these roles she has assisted, designed and facilitated workshops with young people across South East London, her work often combining her background in human geography and social politics with playful and engaging approaches to exploring contemporary art. 

Amelia Martin is a Curator, Educator and Researcher with over 15 years’ experience of creating inclusive programmes for UK cultural institutions. Specialising in artist development, collaborative practices and building communities through art, particularly for those marginalised by systems in society. As part of her current role as Head of Learning and Engagement at the ICA (London) she is responsible for setting strategic direction of engaging new audiences, driving talent development and creating wider access through public practice.  

Previous working experience includes: Programmes Curator (Metroland Cultures), Learning Curator (Camden Art Centre), Schools Officer (Tate Modern), Education Officer (Art Gallery Western Australia), Audience Development Researcher (RIBA). Guest lecturing; RCA (Curating Contemporary Art), University of Westminster, University of Winchester (MA Philosophy of Education), Sotheby’s (MA Curating Today), UAL (BA Fine Art). 

Lexy Morvaridi is an artist, cultural programmer and DIY activist – currently a studio artist at Gasworks in London. He has been passionately involved in the UK’s independent, DIY music sector, working in various roles as well as grassroots projects and activism; he has an MA in Cultural and Creative studies from Kings College London and currently works as an artist, curator and project manager overseeing different projects that focus on the intersection of activism and creativity. With over 10 years of music industry experience he has worked in multiple venues and across several festivals. As the contemporary music and culture programmer at Southbank Centre for five years, he worked closely with artists across all four venues, produced and programmed takeover festivals including Meltdown, commissioned inter-disciplinary stage shows, booked major touring acts and developed specific programming strands such as Purcell Sessions, Concrete Lates, and futuretense.  

As a British-Iranian artist he works across various sound art and music projects that explore the themes of agency and identity. One half of artistic duo InnerSwell with Laima Leyton, they have facilitated grass-roots community arts projects and collaborations with activist groups using sound as a narrative tool – working in collaboration with London’s oldest adventure playground they created a sonic piece, pLayPlAyplAY, with young people that fundraises money back to the space. As a curator and producer Lexy has developed various projects that focus on the intersection of community, social action and music; including an Arts Council funded collaborative album and corresponding youth engagement project inspired by the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled (18 Artists), released through the cultural platform/label he co-founded, Lonely Table. Recently he has worked with Anja Ngozi, supporting her vision with Síbín Vol. 1 – a charity collaborative album, fanzine and workshops with young people.  

Currently he is the guest curator for St Albans Verulamium Museum, working with local migrant communities to explore their narratives and stories in relation to the collection at the biggest Roman site in Britain. Project managing and curating an album for In Place of War – connecting UK artists, indigenous communities and scientists. While also running a sound art course with young people at the ICA. 

naya aka-kwarm is an Afro-Trans multimedia artist, writer, and creative producer from North East London. Currently a Producer at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in Tottenham, their practice empowers local communities through participatory arts programs and events enabling cross-art form productions, prioritising accessibility, and amplifying Black, queer, disabled, and neuro-expansive artists. naya’s motivations derive from collective social action, addressing inequalities within the arts for young people. They have previously worked at venues including Mountview, Theatre Peckham, and the Southbank Centre. 

Rowan Kiffin-Murray. In his day job, Rowan is immersed in the lively atmosphere of the Young V&A Museum. Beyond the museum walls, he finds solace and expression in poetry, a passion that sparked in May 2022 during a workshop he attended in his borough. Rowan has been writing poems ever since and sharing them online and at open mics across London. As a young person who has benefited from inspirational creative individuals and organisations, this has fuelled his desire to pay it forward, being actively engaged in various projects over the past two years.  

Rowan’s journey has seen him participate in and facilitate a range of youth-led initiatives, such as the ‘Creative and Cultural Opportunities Programme’ with Good Growth Hub, the ‘Aspire Training Programme’ with YouPress, the ‘Blackhorse Responders’ initiative at Blackhorse Workshop and the ‘Cultural Producers Programme’ with Beyond the Box. Each of these programs has its own unique strengths and weaknesses, but ultimately, all have given Rowan vital lessons, allowed him to meet the most incredible people, to develop his practice, and have enabled him to take part in some incredible paid and unpaid opportunities. Through these experiences, Rowan is dedicated to fostering creativity, empowering young minds, and contributing to the cultural landscape. His journey is a testament to the impact of creative endeavours and the importance of nurturing the next generation of artistic talent. 

Sadé Sarumi is an artist and curator currently working at Tate Britain as Curatorial Assistant, with a focus on the British Contemporary Arts. She also has experience in community engagement, both as a sector worker and as a participant. Previously, Sade worked within the community engagement team for UCL Easts’ new campus in Stratford. Her work focused on the design and delivery of their art-led public program in collaboration with east London community members.  

Prior to joining UCL, she took part in one of their U24 youth programs called ‘New Curators’, where she curated an exhibition for Newham Heritage Month. Sade was referred to New Curators by another youth program she was a participant in; Artsadmin Youth. In more ways than one, Sade believes it was this participation in youth programs that was a gateway into the curatorial industry, especially in the absence of a “traditional” degree. She is inspired by how we can create more opportunities for disadvantaged youths, and help them discover their potential, particularly where “traditional” routes of learning aren’t accessible.  

  • 3.30pm: Doors open
  • 4pm: Panel discussion begins
  • 4.45pm: Comfort break
  • 4.55: Regroup for panel discussion and Q&A
  • 5.30: Panel finishes
  • 5.30: Break for drinks and light refreshments
  • 5.50: Breakout groups appointed
  • 5.55: Breakout workshops begin
  • 6.30: Breakout sessions reconvene to discuss thoughts
  • 7pm: End

Participants: the people that take part in a project. 

Participant retention: the young people involved in a project keep coming back and continue to be a part of a project or creative group. There are many reasons why someone might choose not to continue engaging in an arts programme including a change in their interests, other commitments, and personal circumstances. As arts organisations, when we create projects we hope that young people will want to be involved as much as possible and it is important for us to understand from young people what they do and don’t enjoy and what they need to feel inspired and encouraged to take part in something. 

Legacy: the long-lasting impact that particular events, actions, or experiences can have on someone’s life. In arts engagement work, legacy refers to what happens after the project, how will the participants be supported after a project finishes and what can they carry forward into future experiences. 

Co-creation: to create something by working with one or more other people. When people talk about co-creation with young people and communities, they are talking about how the people working at arts organisations and the people that they are working with can work together to create their programmes. 

Autonomy: being able to make decisions for yourself and without needing permission or having interference from others. When people talk about autonomy regarding creative work with young people, they are thinking about young people having choice in their creative decisions and independent ownership over aspects of the projects that they take part in.

  • This event will be on the third floor of our building, which is accessible to wheelchair users via a lift at reception. Read more about Accessibility at Toynbee Studios.
  • This event will be captioned.
  • All toilets at Toynbee Studios are gender neutral. 
  • The first-floor disabled toilet has a wheelchair-accessible shower with a fold-down shower seat and an ergonomic sink that is adjustable in height. 
  • BSL interpretation is available on request. Email or call 020 7247 5102 to arrange this or any other access needs, and please allow at least a week’s notice. 

Date and time

9 December 2023

Please note
This is now a past event.


Toynbee Studios
28 Commercial Street
London, E1 6AB
Tel: 020 7247 5102
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