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FUSE: effective working with young people

An evaluation of the FUSE arts festival for young people, which happened in Kensington Gardens last July, shows that this experimental event effectively established ways of working with young people. Audiences London was commissioned by The Royal Parks to provide youth engagement support - through which the event was designed with a panel of 12 young people aged between 13 and 21.

FUSE was a free, one-day arts festival started, organised and led by The Royal Parks (TRP) as an audience development initiative, using the arts to attract young people to one of the eight Royal Parks. It was the first large scale free event in a Royal Park to specifically target this population group.

"Young people are generally poorly catered for regarding events and activities focused and designed for them specifically. We wanted young people to be the cornerstone of our arts policy, encouraging them to love the Parks and expect more from them. In turn they will be the Londoners charged with looking after the Parks for future generations," Alistair Raphael, Head of Arts, The Royal Parks.

"It?s good to have young people, getting young people?s thoughts and help to organise this because usually it?s just other people doing it, but they?ve actually given young people an opportunity to show their talents, show their ideas and that?s what this is all about, so thank you." Sharn, 18, FUSE youth team

"It takes time and energy to build the trust that underpins this kind of relationship with young people, which leads to such an effective event. I hope that The Royal Parks? experience and the learning we are able to share from it can help other people in their own work with young people. " Helen Ball, Head of Engagement Services, Audiences London

The FUSE youth team advised on the development of the event, marketed the event to other young people and took on specific roles on the day, including talking to the press, interviewing audience members for a film and acting as compère in the performance tent. The young people, who were self-selecting to be involved, met from March 2010, with meetings increasing in frequency nearer the event. Their activities included choosing the event name, making decisions with the design agency and TRP about FUSE marketing, setting up and running the event Facebook page, watching performances by participating organisations ahead of the event and doing word-of-mouth marketing to other young people.

The engagement approach used for FUSE was based on three principles:

1. Building Trust (achieved by working with partner organisations, enabling young people to make choices and negotiate, and maintaining contact with parents and carers).
2. Sharing Arts Experiences (achieved by attending events and performances together, sharing opinions and evaluations openly and recording thoughts via photo and film).
3. Connecting with Individuals (achieved by understanding each young person?s individual motivations, skills and aspirations and offering appropriate opportunities in response).

If you'd like to read more about this approach and the impacts of this project you can download the evaluation report here.
For the full press release and explanation of notes, please download the PDF below.

For more information about this project contact Helen Ball, Head of Engagement Services on . 


  • The Royal Parks' FUSE event in Kensington Gardens: effective engagement with teenagers
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