Festivals embracing collaboration as part of Scotland's Year of Young People 2018

Festivals embracing co-design as part of Scotland's Year of Young People 2018

credit: Edinburgh International Film Festival

Write Here Write Now Festival, BIG Takeover, Futureproof, Las! Ignite! and more hand over the creative reins to people aged 8–26

Having spent the past year delving deep into the country's fascinating history, rich heritage and compelling archaeology, Scotland now turns its attention to young people. As part of the Scottish Government's programme of themed years, the Year of Young People provides a unique opportunity to shine a spotlight on the achievements and talents of Scotland's younger generation, with a packed programme of events, festivals and activities designed to draw attention to the young personalities that make Scotland the entrepreneurial, innovative and creative nation that it is today.

This year will not only focus on celebrating the local and global contributions of people aged 8–26, it also aims to create a platform to encourage discussion, collaboration and a continued involvement in arts, culture, sport and other activities. The year-long events programme has been co-designed by young people and the events sector; highlights include special strands such as Glasgow International Comedy Festival's School of Stand-up, Edinburgh International Film Festival's The Young and the Wild series, and Write Here Write Now Festival, an exciting new Renfrewshire-based festival for young writers.

The BIG Takeover is another new event on the calendar, featuring a three-day programme of activities co-designed by Shetland youngsters. Neil Watt, executive manager of sport and leisure at Shetland Islands Council, is excited by the vast array of ideas that they have brought to the table already. 'I think it's a good idea to have young people involved in the programming of projects as they can provide new and different perspectives that challenge the status quo, which ultimately helps to develop a more inclusive and broader range of offerings to the general public,' Watt says. 'In addition, I believe that adults and young people working together will help to promote better understanding and more positive working relationships between the generations.'

Festivals embracing co-design as part of Scotland's Year of Young People 2018

NTS Artistic Director Jackie Wylie (middle) with artist's in residence and members of the Youth Project Team / credit: Julie Howden
Other additions to the 2018 programme include the National Theatre of Scotland's major new festival, Futureproof, created by young people working alongside renowned Scottish, British and international theatre companies and artists. From the end of September and throughout October, ten productions will take place in locations around Scotland, co-created, designed and developed by young groups in different communities, with the goal of potentially inspiring the next generation of theatre makers.

Joe Mahoney, head of education and outreach at An Lanntair in Stornoway agrees that allowing young people to be in charge of programming a festival is not only important but can serve as a template for future engagement. Las! Ignite!, An Lanntair's five-day festival, will be devised, delivered and promoted entirely by young people in the Outer Hebrides, who will take on the real-time roles such as director, curator, marketing coordinator and fundraiser. 'As well as being responsible for the recruitment of a project coordinator, the youth board will be involved in shaping the festival's content and will take part in researching the possible directions that the festival could take,' Mahoney explains. 'It will be really exciting to see how they rise to the challenge of delivering a multi-faceted festival and how they develop as a creative force.'

The nationwide programme for 2018 ultimately offers a chance to recognise the positive impact that young people have in Scotland. By allowing young Scots to take ownership of major events like the BIG Takeover, Las! Ignite! and Futureproof, it's hoped that they will feel valued, supported and empowered to shape and influence the decisions that affect their lives in the future.

The Year of Young People, various venues, nationwide, yoyp2018.scot