Case Study: Young People and the Environment at Impact Arts

22nd May 2018

Case Study: Youth People and the Environment at Impact Arts

Nicola Wood, Green Champion at Green Arts member Impact Arts, shared their recent success in multi-faceted sustainability, combining youth engagement, employability and environmental themes. They gave us an insight into the first two years of the project, the impact it has had, and their plans for the future. 

Impact Arts and Our Bright Future

Impact Arts received funding from Our Bright Future: a lottery-funded programme that supports young people to lead progressive change in their communities and local environment. As one of 31 organisations running a range of programmes over three years, the work of Impact Arts has been split in to 3 strands;

  • Creative Pathways: their flagship employability project working with 15 young people between 16-19 years. It runs for 12 weeks with the aim of getting young people in to employment or further education;
  • Creative Connections: an 8 week-programme, working 14-16 year olds who have disengaged or are at risk of disengaging with school, with the aim of keeping them in education;
  • Youth Ambassador programme: a recent pilot, where a recent graduate artist from Glasgow School of Art worked with various community groups, primary schools and high schools in Dennistoun, Glasgow to promote environmental themes and create a collaborative piece of public art around environmental issues in the local area.

In total, 14 projects under these strands were delivered during 2016 and 2017, and each one had a focus on environmental sustainability in some way (including topics such as upcycling, environmental art, green space make-overs, diverting waste from landfill, planting in green spaces and making raised beds, encouraging biodiversity, increasing recycling, and growing political advocacy). Their work has been well received in their local community:

‘I am massively impressed by the amount of work that these kids have managed to pull together on this project (Creative Pathways, Glasgow 2017)’ Its great to see the work that’s gone in to find out the history behind the clay pits. The finished sculptures are amazing’

Reuben, Clay Pits Nature Reserve management group

We think the project is a great example of the ‘triple-bottom-line’ approach to sustainability: combining social sustainability (incorporating aspects of well-being and community), economic sustainability (getting people ready for work, and up-skilling them to participate in a prosperous economy) and environmental sustainability (benefiting our natural physical environment).

Impact of the Project

Impact Arts have also been very successful in monitoring the impact of their programme, and the 14 environmental projects undertaken! Working across North Ayrshire, East Renfrewshire, Glasgow and Edinburgh, they know that:

  • 208 young people have learned new skills in; design/sculpture /planning /environmental awareness and employability and feel more aware of environmental issues.
  • 110 young people have gained an accreditation in Employability and Steps to Work SQA unit and the Bronze Arts Award.
  • 7 green sites have been transformed into accessible, biodiverse and educational community spaces, with another 8 to be complete by 2020.
  • 1057kg of timber has been diverted from landfill to date which is the equivalent of 1.54tCO2e saved.
  • 163 children and 233 adults have been involved in creative consultation activities using a host of creative workshops to collect data, including: questionnaires, art workshops, mind mapping, filming and even a smoothie bike!
  • 13 community celebration events were held with 648 people attending.
  • 189 young people have progressed on to positive destinations including employment, training, education.
  • Their Barrhead project was a finalist for 2017 SURF Awards Youth Employability category.

“Great to see what can be done with unwanted furniture- big transformation! Everyone should be proud of their achievements”

Hugh McGee, Head of Cunninghame Furniture Recycling Company.

Plans for the Future

For 2018-2020, Impact Arts continue to build and grow their environmental work. They have established a project focus for 2018 and have looked at introducing the following themes in a deeper context linking in with current green themes and government legislation:

  • Regenerated Community Spaces/place making
  • Reduction in Landfill
  • Biodiversity
  • Climate change: linked to the new Climate Bill (going through the Scottish Parliament in 2018).
  • Renewable Energy: i.e. wind turbines, solar panels, wave energy tied in with the Scottish Government priorities.
  • Bees: Save the Bee, linked to the Scottish Wildlife Trust campaign.

The organisation is continuing to research environmental artists to work with their young people, as well as different forms of environmental art and activism that young people can explore and develop their own responses to.

#GreenArts Day: Wednesday 14th March 1Impact Arts is a community arts organisation which uses the arts and creativity to enable and empower social change. They are one of 200+ members of our Green Arts Initiative: a networked community of practice of cultural organisations across Scotland committed to reducing their environmental impact and making a positive contribution to sustainability. Find out more about the Green Arts Initiative and how you can become a member. 

Image: Impact Arts project blog


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