Since before the launch of the Blue & White Company, back in November 2017, we were keen to find a way to support emerging artists and creative conversations in a local capacity.
As a small group of artists and makers ourselves, we appreciate how positive it can be to keep doors open to learning and to continue to explore new creative practice. We also recognise how much our own lives have been enhanced when others have helped to nurture our creative talents, and know the joy that the arts can bring to so many. It therefore remained important that we included this aspect of giving back into our business model.
With all this in mind, we were thrilled to come across the OYAP Trust. A local charity here in Oxfordshire who see the arts and creativity in general as tools for young people, encouraging them to explore and demonstrate their own talents and abilities for the benefit of themselves and others.
Carmen Hoepper, their Youth Arts Project Coordinator, shares more about what they get up to:
What kind of work does OYAP Trust do?
We work with young people, between the ages of 7-25, to positively change their lives and their community through creativity and the Arts . We work to challenge the negative stereotypes that can be given to young people by themselves and others in their community.
We introduce young people to irresistible arts activities and nurture young talent. We reach out to the most vulnerable young people in the community to offer inclusive, educational and inspirational projects that raise confidence and achieve qualifications. We work in partnership with young people and artists to design, create and deliver creative projects that young people want to see happen in their community.
Currently, we are working towards delivering the five key points made by over 300 young people from Bicester in the 2017 “A Young People’s Manifesto for Culture in Bicester”.
Our support has been enabled from the sales of our products and this year, the Blue & White Company have managed to provide contributions towards the material costs of two workshops. The first was a half term workshop in dragon puppet making in celebration of the Chinese New Year in February, and the second was a project called Kites of Kindness that took place on Father’s Day in June 2018.
Carmen shares more about the second project:
What was the purpose of the Kites for Kindness project?
The Kites of Kindness was a project that we ran as a part of the Bicester Festival. The project aimed at getting various community groups to create home-made kites that creatively reflected their thoughts and memories on kindness. We hoped that through this activity we would encourage conversation around what it means to be kind in our world today, through a fun and creative process, as well as, build an range of interesting kites that would be flown at the bigger Kite Festival held as a part of the Bicester Festival. The family kite flying day acted as the final community celebration day bringing all the kite making participants from the different community groups and their loved ones together as a part of the bigger Bicester community.
The project also allowed us to take professional artists into schools, something OYAP and the local schools greatly value.
How has the Kites for Kindness project changed the way some of the participants think or engage?
In my opinion, the primary schools really engaged with the idea of kindness in meaningful way. We had some wonderful discussion around the little ways people are kind in our everyday and we received some beautiful kites of football at break time, friends standing up for each other and mothers packing school lunches. I think the abstract way of thinking that this project required challenged some of our younger participants but they were amazing at identifying moods and tones in the abstract artworks of inspiration we showed them and many of them were able to make considered decisions around colour choices in their kite design.
One of the greatest achievements of this project was seeing these young participants at the family kite flying day, showing off their creative achievements and having fun outside with their friends and families.
As a small business working within a community, it’s good to give back to local projects. Carmen shares some of the highlights from the projects of the OYAP Trust and the bountiful benefits that they see emerge within local families and community groups…
What have been some of your favourite moments within these community based projects?
The best part about these community based projects is the way creativity creates room for conversation between people of all ages and backgrounds, conversations in which participants open up and connect to one another (and us). The variety and depth of these conversations always amazes me. It is also immensely rewarding when participants are proud of what they have produced in a project and enjoyed the process.
We have loved getting to know the OYAP Trust and supporting their work! It has been inspiring to hear all that goes on. You can also find out more about the charity, either as a supporter or to take part in one of their projects, by clicking onto their website here.