Youth Festival Research In Norway

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Let’s travel back in time to the end of March when an opportunity was put forward by the Wicid editor for members of the editorial team to apply to be on a Youth Arts Festival Forum. Four months later, I can proudly say I’m a member of that working group and have just returned from my weekend of research in the UKM Festival in Trondheim, Norway.

Something I wouldn’t have been able to say without the support and encouragement of the Wicid team.

There’s 12 young people in the working group. We are from different areas across Wales and we represent different creative organisations. We have come together twice now, once back in April, where we were introduced to one another and to our responsibility to develop the foundation of a successful Youth Arts Festival in Wales. Initially we discussed location, content, accessibility, contacts, and target audience. This led to us all doing further research by our next meeting which happened at the Hay Festival in May, where we got to experience the praised literature festival, in addition to getting down to the nitty-gritty and clarifying the uncertainties that arose from the last meeting.

The Hay Festival was our most recent meeting, and this was our last time to come together as a working group before we divided for our summer research, which was field trips taking place at three different youth arts festivals: One in Kingston, London. One in Aberdeen, Scotland. And then of course the one in Trondheim, Norway, which was the one I attended.

There were four young people from the working group on the trip, and I was the first to be picked up on our early morning travels to the airport at 12:50am. As I was the first sleepy head in the car I automatically got nominated as the map reader, and navigated our way to pick the others up, before heading towards Heathrow airport. My map reading skills couldn’t have been that bad, as we picked everyone up and got to the airport with ease…but that wasn’t without nearly running over a fox and spilling tea over myself. I’d pretty much turned myself into a cup of tea before we even disembarked into another country, as I spilt milk all over myself on the plane. Despite having to switch planes in Sweden, before we knew it we had landed in Trondheim and were ready to get a feel for the UKM Youth Festival in Norway.

This is when the real adventure began!

We didn’t really have time to settle into our rooms when we arrived because it had already been planned for us to meet with some of the festival organisers. They gave us some passes, which guaranteed free food and free entry to almost everything. We had something to eat and then we went to watch the first of the two evenings shows which we saw, both of which were organised, ran, participated in and documented by young people. It was overwhelming to see how much young people can actually achieve and it made us reconsider the endless possibilities of creativity. There was some incredible talent showcased, there were young singers, rappers, musicians, acrobats, actors, dancers, poets, comedians. The festival was a platform for the young people of Norway to showcase and make the most of their creative talents, whatever they may be.

During our time there we got to speak to many of the young volunteers, practitioners and performers, and everyone involved seemed to be gaining so much from the experience.

There was a visual art gallery that contained a wide variety of art from photography pieces, pop art pieces, puppetry, doodles in text books, tapestry. It was all to be seen in UKM Norway. There was a broadcasting bus, where all the visual mixing got done across a variety of locations, there was a parade, and a young social media and marketing office. The biggest mystery of all for us Welsh visitors was the fact that all the young festival goers stayed in a sports hall overnight, they spent their week camping on airbeds in a sport centre, with no trouble at all. It became clear to us by the end of our stay that the participants were very tired by their final days, but there’s no wonder, I doubt they got that much sleep sharing a bedroom with 500 other participants.

Overall I really enjoyed the opportunity to visit Norway, it was a very pretty place, and the weather was really nice to us which was a bonus. But most importantly I really valued the opportunity to meet and talk to the creative young people involved with the organisation and overall creation of the youth festival. It made me realise how universal creativity is and also allowed me to see the opportunities that can be made for creative individuals alike, globally…so why not in Wales, too?

Our visit to the UKM Festival definitely inspired us as a young working group. And really opened our eyes to what young people are actually capable of doing, and made us believe that creating a Youth Arts Festival in Wales is something definitely not out of reach.

It’s do-able. Completely do-able.

Related Organisation: UKM Norway

Related Article: Aberdare Festival 2013

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