“We laugh and feel safe, in a world where it’s often difficult to feel that way.”
Curious Arts, a North East based charity focused on developing LGBTQIA+ arts, artists, and communities, will continue and re-launch a series of youth groups across Tyneside to provide safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ and gender non-conforming young people to meet new friends, try out new art forms and take part in creative activities together.
Statistics show that over half (57%) of LGBT+ young people in the North East feel lonely or separated from those they are closest to – more than anywhere else in England. As LGBTQIA+ hate crime statistics continue to rise (186% over the last five years), Curious Arts’ vital youth activity was developed in response to a challenging social and political climate for LGBQTIA+ communities, coming out of the pandemic.
Curious Arts’ free Newcastle Youth Group sessions, which take place monthly at Dance City in Newcastle upon Tyne, were started to improve young LGBTQIA+ people’s mental health by providing much needed community, friendship, and access to creative outlets for young people aged 11-15 years old in the region.
Alongside their monthly Newcastle youth group, Curious Arts also offers the opportunity for any LGBTQIA+ or gender non-conforming 12-19 year olds in Tyneside who have a passion for music to attend Curious Youth Music – a free weekly group for LGBTQIA+ musicians and aspiring producers. These sessions give young people the opportunity to meet fellow musicians, join jam sessions, develop their songwriting and production skills, work with professional musicians, and learn more about the local music industry in the North East.
Izaak Gledhill, Community Projects Coordinator at Curious Arts said, “Curious Arts Youth Groups were established to create a safe space where LGBTQIA+ and/or gender non-conforming young people feel supported and able to meet new people and inspiring artists whilst exploring their creativity. We encourage young people to come along and make new friends, and take part in fun creative activities like clay sculpting, zine crafting, protest poster designing, creative writing, songwriting, trips out and much more.”
Over 150 young people based across the North East benefit from Curious Arts’ youth activity every year. Here one young person shares their experience…“As a young LGBTQ+ person it can be so hard to find a place you truly feel you belong and fit in, Curious Arts has given me, and so many more young people, that place. I attend the youth music group, and through this, I have gained so many amazing opportunities and made so many friends. It’s a place we can go to just be ourselves and make music, no outside pressures are weighing us down. We laugh and feel safe, in a world where it’s often difficult to feel that way. They’ve helped me in so many ways, developing my confidence and self-esteem, and understanding ways I can engage with and enjoy so many different creative outlets! They bring so much joy to so many people and make our lives so much better, I am endlessly grateful for this charity.”
A participant’s parent praised the initiative saying, “They were struggling with their mental health and confidence and I knew they needed to make other LGBTQ+ friends with similar interests, I had no idea how to suggest making that happen. Since joining the group, their confidence has grown ten-fold and it’s an absolute joy to see them find their passion for music and life again.”
Curious Arts’ Tyneside Youth Activity is currently supported by Newcastle Culture Investment Fund through Community Foundation Tyne Wear and Northumberland, UK YOUTH, Youth Music, Children in Need and Lumo trains.