Since March I have been employed by TMC as a Changemaker, working for 16 weeks towards a final event Creating the Future which took place on 28th June. The whole process was a total whirlwind of creativity, vision and hard work and now the process is over, I wanted to reflect on my journey, learnings and impact.
Firstly, what even is a "Changemaker"? According to google it's 'a person or thing that changes bills or coins for ones of smaller denominations.' I'm sure that's not what TMC employed me to do! From my understanding, myself and the other four Changemakers were brought onboard to offer a young person's voice and perspective on the difficult subject of engaging the youth of today in the arts. The make a change in a sector that (although some amazing work is certainly happening) is struggling to meet the most basic needs of many children and young people in the UK today. Quite a challenge!
During the start of the project I certainly felt under pressure. Are my ideas good enough? What do the others think of me? Am I saying anything radical or simply repeating what's been said hundreds of times? How I make a difference? Am I working hard enough? However, with the amazing support of my other four Changemakers and the staff at TMC, after a few weeks we started to feel like were getting somewhere. As a group we started to develop a clear voice and vision for our event, which we named Creating the Future. We dropped using the word 'conference' as we felt this didn't represent the feel or purpose of the day.
Although at the time I felt unsure, looking back, I realise that as a group we felt strongly about a lot of the aspects of our event at the start, that we saw through to the end. There are too many finer details to list, but here are some of our non-negotiables that I feel we made a reality:
- The event had to be accessible on all levels; price, location, communication etc
- Potential delegates from all across the sector had to be aware of the event. We felt that a lot of the same faces attend conferences in the sector and therefore spent a lot of time contacting individuals and organisations that we felt are often not represented.
- The event had to not only offer the chance to listen to speakers and start conversations but also to be a platform to showcase young creative talent.
- The day had to include break out sessions where people didn't just 'sit and absorb' but were active participants in the discussion.
- Our Key Notes had to challenge the topics that we often skirt around and don't want to discuss.
In summary, we wanted the day to have a strong youth voice and for all delegates, regardless of job role or position to feel like they wanted to (and could!) make a change to create a better future.
I am really pleased with how the event came together and feel that our programme really shouted out the messages we wanted to convey. Delegates were actively engaged throughout the event and made pledges at the end of the day around what they would do going forward. The feedback was positive and conversations heated! On the day, I looked around and thought 'yes, this is what we wanted to happen!'
On reflection, I realise that the role of "Changemaker" didn't need to be a daunting or scary one. It's a role about working with others and encouraging them to make a change with you. Yes, we may have started the conversations, but the accountability lay with everyone in that room. My pledge at the end of the event was 'to never stop fighting for arts and culture'. We all must keep the passion, the fire and the fight and never get complacent. We are living in an ever-changing world and have to keep up. We are all capable of change, and if passionate and channelled effectively, we are all Changemakers.