What can we learn about arts engagement from Europe’s youngest city?

Ashleigh reflects on Beatfreeks' 2018 Youth Trends Report and Summit and what she learnt from young people from Birmingham

What should you do in Europe’s youngest city? Find out what those young people think, want, and need.

That’s exactly what Beatfreeks have done in Birmingham with their 2018 Youth Trends Report and Summit – in a city where nearly 40% of residents are under 25. The Audience Agency contributed to the report, so I was pleased to attend the summit with our Research Officer, Venus Lee.

Ashleigh's blog image.jpg Keynote from Anisa Haghdadi, founder and CEO of Beatfreeks Collective

Based on surveys and focus groups with more than 1500 Brummie 14-25 year-olds, the report reveals a constellation of issues that affect young people – from arts and culture to urban planning – and how these often intersect with one another to create barriers and opportunities.

The summit and report are far too rich to do them justice in this blog, but two key myth-busting findings that stood out to us were:

  • 48.5% of Brum’s young people say they mostly have fun by going out with friends – social media isn’t a replacement for the real world. Rather, online activity is an extension of their in-person social life.

  • 62.5% of young people believe the arts are important, yet 47% do not know where to find any creative opportunities.

The report shows that young people, even in the UK’s second-largest city, still face many barriers to arts engagement. This is a huge opportunity for cultural organisations – the key is finding out what young people actually want and need.


Download the free 2018 report and previous years here.


Written by Ashleigh Hibbins, Learning and Participation Consultant
Featured in October's edition of The Learning Diaries. To receive The Learning Diaries, visit the sign up page.