ReachOutRCA: Engaging Young People through Art and Design
RCA students and alumni have been inspiring the creatives of the future through the College’s engagement programme for young people ReachOutRCA. In December, as part of the London Children’s Festival a current student and two graduates from MA Visual Communication helped school children from across the capital communicate how they would improve the city if they were “Mayor for the Day”, and last summer three Sculpture graduates inspired young artists through a weeklong studio based workshop.
Established in 2005 ReachOutRCA creates inspirational and innovative exchanges between young people, their teachers and the RCA community. ReachOutRCA’s workshops share the wide-ranging benefits of creative thinking and making with young people, teachers, families and community groups across London, as well as provide new contexts for RCA students and graduates to share their skills and experience. With declining numbers of young people taking arts subjects at GCSE, initiatives like ReachOutRCA provide vital opportunities for young people to collaborate with creative practitioners.
The London Children’s Festival was delivered by London based creative and cultural education agency A New Direction, who invited ReachOutRCA to collaborate on developing the brief and selecting practitioners from the Visual Communication programme. Current student Alicja Biala and graduates Abbie Vickress and Idoia Acha were selected to work with six schools, helping groups of young people to experiment with ways to visualise their ideas for improving London addressing Mayoral priorities such as ‘Jobs, Skills and Education’ and ‘Housing, Play and Public Spaces’.
Abbie, Idoia and Alicja helped to create large-scale poster designs, which were on display at City Hall on 1 December at the culmination of the festival attended by 250 pupils from London schools, seen by thousands of Londoners on the pages of CityAM and featured on London Live. The presentation of the young people's ideas will feed into the development of a new London Children’s Charter by social mobility charity the Mayor’s Fund for London.
ReachOutRCA’s Sculpture Summer Studio was an opportunity for young people at different stages of their creative education to meet and work together. In 2017, Sculpture graduates Phoebe Baines, Holly Hendry and Milly Peck led an intensive week-long workshop that offered young people from across London the opportunity to gain new skills, work with peers and learn about the creative processes of three inspiring practitioners. The young people taking part experienced a real studio environment and experimented with a wide range of approaches to materials and sculptural methods.
The lead artists structured the week to reflect their own practices, from research through to testing materials and forming final pieces. The project also provided opportunities for the participants to develop skills talking about their work and joining discussions. On the final day, the group curated an exhibition from the work they had produced and took part in a crit, with each participant describing their process and what they had learned over the week. The culmination of the project was a private view where participants celebrated alongside friends, family and RCA staff.