somewhereto_ 2014 Youth Festival

Young people get ready to showcase their creative talents in unusual spaces throughout Antrim from July 15 to August 2

From aspiring artists to entrepreneurs, budding writers to dramatists, dancers, filmmakers, musicians and more, this July young people are being given somewhereto_ be inspired.

A legacy of the London 2012 Olympics, somewhereto_ is a UK-wide, Big Lottery-funded festival which this year runs from July 10 – 31. The project helps young people aged 16-25 access underused or vacant spaces. somewhereto_ subsequently finds the space for young people to put their talents on display, helping them build up a network of support from peers and professionals and develop their ideas.

The initiative is managed in Northern Ireland by PLACE (Planning Landscape Architecture Community Environment). As an independent, not-for-profit organisation, the PLACE team fuse their collective experience in architecture, town planning, visual art, curation, design, social science, education, research, community engagement and event management to give young people a chance to shine.

They’re now encouraging anyone aged between 16-25 to get in touch if they want to take part in the somewhereto_ residency project in Antrim, which runs from July 15 to August 2, 2014. Regional delivery partner of the somewhereto_ scheme, Rebekah McCabe, says the idea is simple.

'somewhereto_ creates opportunities for young people by providing them with access to space so, if they have an idea, and need the space to do it in, we’ll step in and help them find that space.'

The project has so far provided young people with a range of spaces in which to work. 'We’ve helped with everything from online ideas to finding desk space,' adds McCabe. 'Or more substantial things like providing a wee boy with a site for a community garden. We’ve also provided locations for sets for filming.'

Having secured space for young people in Bangor last year, the team are now taking over two floors of a sizeable retail unit in the centre of Antrim, so that those taking part can pitch up and show off their creative ideas throughout the summer.

'We’re going to transform it for three weeks as a hub for emerging talent,' McCabe explains. 'There’ll be performing arts and also talent that’s harder to showcase, like young entrepreneurs. It’s a place where they can all connect to a bigger network across the UK.

'The upper floor isn’t fitted out and we have three young artists in residence who will be there over the three weeks – two sculptors and one artist who works with textiles. The three of them are going to be interpreting the space. They’ll also be having an open studio, when the public can come in and watch them.'

The ground floor, meanwhile, will be a melting pot of new talent, with live music, entrepreneurial workshops and master-classes with high-profile speakers from across the UK. 'We can’t confirm any names yet, but they’re really exciting names,' assures McCabe.

What’s more, everything associated with somewhereto_ 2014 is free, and because the project is an ongoing, evolving thing, it means that young people can still volunteer to take part up to and throughout the entire three-week process.

'It’s quite a different kind of event, especially for Antrim,' says McCabe. 'We deliver it across Northern Ireland, but we’re always conscious of trying to be less Belfast-centric. Last year in Bangor we were actually approached by the Enkalon Foundation, based in Antrim, so they’re providing some of the funding support as well.'

While the somewhereto_ project encourages young people to try out ideas which may, up until now, literally have been only an idea or thought, McCabe asserts that the ultimately hope is that these ideas will develop into exciting projects, careers, productions for the future.

'We have a structure in place and the space to support young people if they develop these ideas. We would see this just as the start of a relationship. It’s a really incredible opportunity for young people to try something out. It’s an incubator for ideas for three weeks… with support from some of the UK’s leading entrepreneurs.'

somewhereto_ residencies kicks off at 55, High Street, Antrim on July 15 and runs until August 2. More details can be found on the PLACE website.