TOWIE: Radical Citizenship

Many young people are disengaged with modern politics and consider citizenship as a ‘hollow concept’ propagated by distant politicians and educationalists. In an attempt to tackle this issue Emergency Exit Arts (EEA) together with Bishopsgate Institute have set up a new project called Radical Citizenship, a creative skills and training project for 20 participants, supported by a £50,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Radical Citizenship aims to give young people an opportunity to express their views, to gain vital training opportunities and to be mentored in employment opportunities and is part of EEA’s and Bishopsgate Institute's ongoing programme called TOWIE (The Only Way Is Ethics).

With youth unemployment a nationwide issue in what some consider to be one of the most important election years in decades, there is a generation of young voters who are disenchanted and disengaged. They feel ignored and have little opportunity to voice their views. As a result, they have little faith in the role they play in shaping the future by voting.

Chloe Osborne, Project Director for EEA

Radical Citizenship explores the history and imaginings of citizenship in the UK and further afield from the 1950s to the present day and investigates the concept of being a ‘world citizen’ looking how that would affect our countries and our everyday lives. Starting in March 2015 and delivered over 18 months, the project will offer opportunities for young people to gain heritage skills in cataloguing, research and interpretation, with a focus on the newly acquired archive of the Mondcivitan Republic (World Citizens) movement at Bishopsgate Institute. The group will explore ethical questions including:

  • Whose role/ responsibility is it to make judgements on morality and justice in a global world?
  • How can barriers to civic participation, either voluntary or imposed, be traversed?
  • How is it possible to cross borders against barriers?

Access and experience are invaluable opportunities for young people, especially in a sector which feels so closed off and exclusive.

Shreya Ukil aged 22 and a former TOWIE participant

Radical Citizenship is designed to support young people imagine a style of citizenship that could give a voice to their ideas and uphold their vision for a future with more flexible borders and nationhoods.

The programme will also to train participants to become young producers who use their findings and ideas to:

  • Design an innovative programme of public events at Bishopsgate Institute
  • Create and deliver workshops for the primary schools on the subject of citizenship.

Bringing the increasingly globalised perspectives of Greater London’s multicultural youth to the exploration of citizenship’s history and an international political movement. This project aims to address the barriers to participation experienced by young people and provide fresh insights for future programming.

About the programmes objectives:

The programme will train a core group of people to become young producers who will design an innovative programme of public events based at Bishopsgate Institute to engage their peers and explore their understanding of the notion of citizenship in a fast changing political and economic climate. Radical Citizenship will also reach out to younger people by creating workshops for primary schools linking into the citizenship curriculum empowering pupils to explore the ethical implications of citizenship through a series of activities inspired by the World Citizen’s Movement and their vision of a world without borders.

TOWIE trainees will be supported by Emergency Exit Arts, Bishopsgate Institute and creative mentors to access routes into employment, embedding the representation of more diverse perspectives in the heritage sector for the benefit of young people.

Towie radical citizenship

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