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Allianz Arts & Business NI Awards: Young people given a voice

Young people around Northern Ireland are being given a voice thanks to projects between arts and business organisations.

The projects, which were recognised at the recent Allianz Arts & Business NI Awards, are reaching out to communities across the country.

Lobbying agency Stratagem picked up an award at the event, which was held at the Ulster Hall on 6 February, for a 2013 project with youth arts organisation WheelWorks.

The programme saw the two organisations engage young teenagers from cultural and minority communities, many of whom had limited access to the arts.

Over the course of two projects they worked with teenagers through the Craigavon InterCultural Programme Oasis Youth Forum and with young people with disabilities through the Goal Line Youth Trust in Portadown.

The teens worked with drama facilitators and artists, and in the end created art that voiced messages important to them.

The Craigavon group produced 3D masks, while Goal Line produced a series of visual arts pieces. That artwork was then launched at the Millennium Court Arts Centre in Portadown before eventually being displayed at Stormont – allowing politicians to see just how the youth felt about issues such as disability, racism and community safety.

Gráinne Walsh, head of consultancy with Stratagem, said the project helped give teens access to the arts – and to politicians at Stormont.

Stratagem provided financial support for the sessions but also gave strategic advice to WheelWorks and put it in contact with local politicians and experts.

“Up until now we had kept our CSR activities local to either south Belfast where we are based, or Belfast city. We took the decision with the WheelWorks project to go beyond Belfast, where children wouldn’t get the same level of access to arts. That was very important for us. That coincided very nicely with WheelWorks and its aim to target organisations it normally wouldn’t access,” said Walsh.

WheelWorks and Stratagem picked up the Young People Award at the Allianz Arts & Business NI Awards, and were also shortlisted in the Community Engagement Award category.

For details on more of the projects that were recognised at the Allianz Arts & Business NI Awards, click here.

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