Young people in Croydon enjoyed a day of free workshops, performances and events in the town’s Clocktower on Saturday (October 28).
The event, run by the Croydon-based arts ambassadors Croydon Youth Arts Collective (CYAC) aimed to raise the profile of youth arts and culture in Croydon.
Activities on the day included free live performances, creative workshops and art exhibitions, all aimed at boosting Croydon’s youth engagement with the arts.
The theme for this year’s event was ‘Wellbeing’, and this saw the inclusion of interactive sessions such as two ‘Sound Bath’ sessions, where children were immersed in voice and instrumental sounds.
Other sessions included live music from the Croydon Music and Arts Jazz in the iconic Braithwaite Hall, virtual reality workshops creating films with the theme of happiness, and a physical theatre workshop to allow children to explore themes of power and identity.
Cherilyn Yates, Development Officer for Croydon Music and Arts told ELL: “Croydon is so diverse… it’s so good to celebrate what [young people] can do.
“Croydon is really changing in terms of arts and culture provision, there’s a lot of money being put into it. It’s so nice to have young people create and facilitate something by themselves, for other young people.”
Croydon has the largest number of young people in London – there are 84,000 children under 15 living in the borough. Nee, 18, volunteers for CYAC and told ELL how important the scheme is for the borough: “Events like this bring the community together. You get to see everyone take part in creative opportunities, it raises the cultural and arts profile for Croydon, and combats the negative stereotypes that teenagers have.”
Whilst this is only the second time CYAC has taken over the Clocktower, the organisation was first formed in 2015 after consultations with young people on arts provision in the borough.
CYAC is led by young people with the aim of engaging more people their age in arts and culture. Supported by Croydon’s Council Youth Engagement team and Croydon Music and Arts, they campaign for the importance of creative events and opportunities within the local area. They also act as an advisory board to cultural providers to promote the value of arts and culture education in the local area.
The group is funded by A New Direction (AND), as part of the Creative Croydon scheme which is developing a Local Cultural Education Partnership for the area. The partnership is aimed at improving the alignment of cultural education for Croydon’s youth, through volunteer organisations such as CYAC.
For Nee, being part of CYAC is especially important for diversity and inclusivity for young people in the borough. She told ELL: “Seeing the community take part in events like this is a big deal for me.
“I have a special needs sister, and my brother has ADHD. I’ve wanted them to be part of creative stuff, and to see them come out of their shells here today is great.”
CYAC meet on the first Wednesday of each month from 5-8pm. For more information, contact them here: