Valleys Kids will take over Level 5 of Tate Modern’s Blavatnik Building this month to create a pop-up Youth Club and Rhondda front room. Sparc, the Valleys Kids Youth Arts Project, and artist in residence Anne Culverhouse Evans, will draw inspiration from the now-closed youth centre in Rhydyfelin and coping with austerity in a project open to the public in London from the 30th of May to the 3rd of June.
Tate Exchange is an ambitious ‘open experiment’ which allows other organisations and members of the public to participate in Tate’s creative process, running events and projects on site and using art as a way of addressing wider issues in the world around us.
Responding to the idea of ‘Other’, Sparc will be drawing inspiration from the now-closed youth centre in Rhydyfelin, looking at the effect it has had on the young people who attended the centre. They’ll be asking why young people are seen as ‘Other’, while encouraging the thousands of attendees to explore and interact with the pop-up Welsh Youth Club being set up in London. Video footage of the young people’s responses to the closure will be shown live at the pop-up event.
Miranda Ballin, Artistic Director of Sparc, said, “We couldn’t be more excited to be heading to Tate Modern as an associate of Tate Exchange. Sparc (Valleys Kids’ youth arts project) has been working with the Rhydyfelin Youth Theatre and Like an Egg Productions to tell the powerful story of the closure of the young people’s youth and play provision, and how this has affected them and the way they think of their future. We think that there are thousands of young people out there who will connect with our story of feeling lost and forgotten, and we want to have a public debate about youth space – so come and join us!”
The youth club in Rhydyfelin was closed in November 2017, and had a drastic effect on the young people who used to attend it. Alysha, a member of the Rhydyfelin Youth Theatre, sees the Tate Exchange project as a chance to challenge stereotypes:
“The reason why I want to go to Tate is to explain the circumstances of what has happened in our area. We had no choice about our youth club closing. And I feel like everyone deserves to know, as they may think that teenagers are horrible. But we aren’t. And it’s worse when no one takes on our ideas, or sees how it will affect us in the future.”
At the time of the closure, the young people were generous enough to donate their table tennis table to a similar club in Dinas – an act of generosity and kindness symbolic of the club’s positive effects. Sparc has extended an invitation to local youth centres in London to get involved directly to exchange ideas and experiences and even help with equipment.
Sparc are using the week at Tate to launch a UK-wide debate about the importance of public and bespoke spaces, using the #OurSpace / #LleNi hashtag.
To create the Rhondda front room, Anne Culverhouse Evans will accompany residents from the community to Tate to explore the idea of homemade as ‘Other’.
The artist, along with Valleys Kids Art Group, will set up a typical Rhondda Front Room and encourage the public to sit and crochet a large chain, while engaging in debate about the importance of creativity often borne of necessity in places like the Valleys. Twitter users can get involved in this by using the hashtag #HomemadeIntheValleys. Anne Culverhouse Evans said:
“The theme recognises these times of austerity and the imperative to home make, upcycle and generate practical necessities that in themselves are also unique pieces of art. The result, a crochet chain that all ages and groups within Valleys Kids are a part of; it is already linking our Valley Kids projects together. We are looking forward to ‘linking’ up with other communities who come to visit us in our front room at Tate, to teach them the skill of crochet so that they too can become part of our chain.”
For this project, Valleys Kids are working with Canterbury Christ Church University, People United, and the School of Politics and International Relations, University of Kent. This is the second year this collaboration has showcased work at Tate, after last year’s successful Fairground and Waste Not, Want Not projects.
Head of Tate Exchange, Cara Courage, said:“We are so excited to be welcoming Valleys Kids back to Tate Exchange after they joined us last year – they bring such energy and inspiration to us here at Tate, and it’s a joy to see its artists, young and old, show their work and tell their stories, to visitors from all over London, the UK and the world.”