Young Londoners ask ethical questions

For 18 months the project researched the heritage of democracy and social activism in London by exploring the ethical choices of personal and political responsibilities and the ethics of museums and curating.

TOWIE Young Producers and Curators, supported by Emergency Exit Arts in partnership with Bishopsgate Institute and Museum Of London, enabled 78 young people to delve into rich heritage collections, develop their creative and curating skills and develop new, dynamic way of engaging their peers in heritage materials that they think ‘are too important to sit in boxes or behind glass.’ They found ways of taking the collections out into the street, of inviting new audiences into heritage venues and of testing the limits of Museum and Archive protocol.

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With over 900 people reached in the project, TOWIE was able to challenge preconceptions about how young people engage with heritage materials, to give 16-25-year-olds a space to debate and discuss and then to design new ways of doing things. Using public art as a vehicle for interpretation they were able to explore the process of historical research and the complex political and ethical issues entailed in the "writing" of history.

  • How can we get more young people into our museums and archives?
  • How can we take our collections out into the community?
  • How can young people be, or collaborate with, the decision makers?

These were the questions at the for front of TOWIE, inspiring performative banquets, interactive street art in the middle of the city, dinner and debate for Parliament week, spoken word poets calling brick lane to a stand-still and space that was, very carefully, kept aside for reflection, to reconsider the way that things should be, inspired by what was and has been.

Thinking Is The New Rebellion, the project symposium which took place on Saturday, June 28th, was designed and manager by TOWIE’s young producers and involved speed debating, picnic politics, quote bingo and protest song workshops.

The Only Way is Ethics is a youth-led heritage project, funded through the Young Roots programme by The Heritage Lottery Fund.

Working on the project has been an unforgettable journey. We’re asking powerful questions about the arts and heritage sector and it’s always an eye-opener to hear the passionate responses. This isn’t the last of TOWIE! It’s made a huge difference to the lives of young people and we need to keep that going.

Sapphire Joy, project assistant
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Towie enables young participants to creatively access the heritage sector, and get hands-on experience. Access and experience are invaluable opportunities for young people, especially in a sector which feels so closed off and exclusive.

Antonia Carrol, TOWIE Young Producer

TOWIE offered an alternative to simply tweeting political opinions or debating for a few minutes in the classroom. The project was a fantastic experience for me personally; it brought together interesting, curious people who each day of the project were introduced to fresh, radical perspectives.

Marina Georgiou, TOWIE participant

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