Skip to main content

Isle of Wight Changemakers

The Young Cultural Changemakers programme is a cultural development initiative for and by children and young people aged 25 and under on the Isle of Wight. We are also working with schools in Gosport, increasing connections between young people and their local creative communities.  

This programme focuses on: 

  • Building the aspirations, capacity, training, and potential of the Isle of Wight’s young people through relevant and engaging opportunities to improve creative skills  
  • Empowering young people to find their voice and develop leadership opportunities and abilities  
  • Supporting youth-led regeneration, pride of place and community building  
  • Exploring creative solutions to improve the communities and lives of young people on the Isle of Wight  
  • Facilitating the networking of local organisers, creative freelancers, youth services, young people, and their schools to support youth led cultural provision  
  • Enhancing the offering of creative skills and career support for young people from the Isle of Wight’s schools  
  • Working with young people on the Isle of Wight to commission creative projects focused on improving mental health  
  • Celebrating the events and activities that are already happening nearby  

The Power of Placemaking

The programme, Activating Young Cultural Changemakers, focuses on five keyplaces where we are exploring how children and young people can be empowered to direct meaningful creative projects in their local areas. We are supporting and training them them to develop new skills, investing in quality art commissions for installations that harness their ideas, placing control in the hands of young people and promoting youth leadership. 


The project is supported using public funding by Arts Council England to deliver on their ‘Let’s Create’ strategy. As well as the Isle of Wight, we are delivering this programme in four other areas in the South EastArun, Dover, Slough, and The New Forest. This project runs from 2023-2027. 


Find out more about the Young Cultural Changemakers programme here. 


Digital Badges

Young people who participate in the Young Cultural Changemakers Programme will have the opportunity to earn digital badges; online qualifications that can be used on a CV or applications. Find out more about digital badges here. 

This programme will offer the opportunity for young people who have not previously engaged with arts and culture to achieve a Bronze Arts Award.

About the Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight is renowned for its offer of festivals across the island. However, Arts Council England have recognised the Isle of Wight as an area of low cultural engagement making it one of their 54 Priority Places. The Young Cultural Changemakers Programme will empower children and young people to make a difference in the Isle of Wight through creativity and provide training to set them on a thriving career path. Find out more about how Priority Places were selected here



  Our work: Creative Consultations 

Listening to young people is at the heart of what we do. In the year to 1 April 2024, we conducted 12 ‘creative consultations’ on the Isle of Wight; listening to the views of some 425 young people living on the Isle of Wight as they took part in a wide range of creative workshops - from rap, storytelling and performance poetry, to badgemaking, T-shirt design, collage and ceramics. We consulted at major cultural events on the Island, including Isle of Wight Pride, IW Story Festival and Ventnor Fringe; school settings including Barton Primary School, The Bay CE Secondary School and the Island Learning Centre; and community-based youth groups including Community Action Isle of Wight Bay Resilience Programme, the Isle of Wight NHS Youth Forum and Breakout Youth. The things the young people have told us – about their connection to their communities and the environment, their engagement with creative activities and what they would like to change to make their part of the Isle of Wight a better place for young people to live – have fed into three significant youth-led placemaking commissions so far, and three more are in development for delivery by 1 April 2025. The commissions enable young people to identify challenges within their neighbourhoods and develop creative solutions to address them. More creative consultations will take place on the Isle of Wight in 2024/25 and this year Artswork will be extending this work to Gosport too. 

Our work: Placemaking Commission with IW NHS Youth Forum 

The Isle of Wight NHS Youth Forum wanted to create an outside space for secondary-aged young people staying in or visiting the children’s ward. Through a creative consultation, we helped them identify their priorities - from accessibility and allergy-awareness to calming colours, a den and outdoor games – and used these to write an open call-out for an artist/gardener to help them create their vision. A ‘dragons’ den’ selection process was held, and artist Laura Hathaway was chosen by the Youth Forum to work with them on the project. Laura and the young people worked for many weeks creating a spectacular mural around the garden, they have woven their own willow den, learnt how to make wooden planters with Care in the Garden CIC, and planted low-allergy, sensory plants, supported by Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. Becky Hepworth, Matron for Children and Young Peopleat the Trust says: “The benefits of having an outdoor space for a child or young person when they are feeling unwell is huge. If you are admitted to hospital, even for a short period of time, fresh air and a space to enjoy some time out from the hustle and bustle of a busy ward environment, is so valuable to wellbeing. Having a therapeutic area for young people to spend time, alone or with others is going to make a big difference for our patients in their recovery,”

Our work: Placemaking Commission with The Island Learning Centre 

The commission with the Island Learning Centre was developed from a cartoon-strip-based creative consultation which identified poor intergenerational relationships as a concern for this group of young people. A call-out for artists and a dragons’ den selection process resulted in the young people choosing to work with artist Teresa Grimaldi to create a film. The project has reflected on childhood, past and present, and looked at the challenges for young people today, particularly around social media. One of the highlights of the project was a conversation between the students and a group of older participants at wellbeing charity Independent Arts, comparing their experience of childhood – each group thought the other had it worse! It is hoped that the final film will encourage interaction between the generations, challenge stereotypes, make positive connections and help form stronger communities. 

Our work: Placemaking Commission in The Bay 

The Ascend festival developed from a rap-based creative consultation in October half term, when members of the Bay Youth Forum told us they were interested in creating a youth-led arts festival for the area. In part, they were responding to their film, ‘Do Something Different’, made in 2023 for Artswork’s Supporting Young Minds programme. The film highlighted the lack of safe spaces for young people to go and the lack of things for young people to do, and challenged local politicians, businesses and young people themselves to make a difference. In planning and delivering the Ascend festival, the Forum not only aims to offer a range of creative activities for young people to engage with, but also wants to challenge the way young people are often perceived. The Forum is involved in all aspects of planning and delivery of the festival – from branding, marketing and decoration to programming, booking acts and budgeting. As well as supporting the Bay Youth Forum, Artswork has run three programmes at the Bay Secondary School, teaching students skills that could be showcased at Ascend – Samba drumming with YES! Creative Beats, storytelling with Sue Bailey and songwriting and performance with Jess Ong. As well as gaining new skills, most students said their were more confident as a result of taking part in these programmes. One storyteller said: “It’s been joyous! It’s fun and has helped my imagination and confidence.”

Our work: Sustainability and Climate Change Intervention in Gosport 

Our work in Gosport during 2023/24 started with a whole-school survey of students at Bridgemary Secondary School, seeking their views on community, creativity and climate change. Littering emerged as a significant concern, both in terms of degrading the appearance of the local community and for its wider environmental impact. Responding to these findings, we ran three separate programmes with the aim of reducing littering in the school and wider community: a film with Paul Gonella, a 3-D ceramic mural exploring marine pollution with Karen Townsend; and a mural of celebrity environmentalist with Al Warner. Most of the students told us their behaviour in relation to littering had changed as a result of their involvement in the projects. One student said: “I have learnt a lot about what pollutes the sea. Before this, I would have thought a paper straw didn’t matter, but we researched it and found out that paper straws were a major source of pollution - because they still have plastic in them.”

Our work: Supporting Young Minds

Young Cultural Changemakers on the Isle of Wight builds on the learning from Artswork’s previous youth-led investment programme, Supporting Young Minds, which saw young people devise creative commissions to change the places they live for the better. They co-created the place-changing projects – which included an art trail, a film, and a pop-up music and visual arts hub - with professional artists chosen by the young people themselves at ‘dragons' den’ selection events.   Evaluation by the University of Sussex showed strong links between participation in the programme and improvements in confidence and mental wellbeing, and the projects have successfully met the young people’s aspirations to make a difference to their towns. Supporting Young Minds was delivered on the Isle of Wight by The Island Collection and programme managed by Peta Rainford for Independent Arts. Peta is now Artswork’s Placemaking Creative Producer for the Isle of Wight, so is well-place to build on the learning and partnership working of Supporting Young Minds through the Young Cultural Changemakers programme.

Meet The Producer

“I am passionate about empowering young people to connect with their communities through creativity. I have seen first-hand the power of youth-led projects to make a real difference – not only to places, but also to the young people who participate, boosting confidence, self-esteem and connection to their communities. I am so excited to see what young people can achieve through the Young Cultural Changemakers programme.” -Peta Rainford, Placemaking Creative Producer for the Isle of Wight

Get involved!

We want to get the views of as diverse a range of young people as possible – and particularly want to hear from young people who rarely have their voice heard. If you work with young people – whether in school or another youth setting – and would like them to have this great creative opportunity, please get in touch

If you are a young person who would like to get involved, please get in touch to find out when our next community creative consultation will take place


Artist Call Out: Youth-Led Creative Commissions

Artswork in partnership with St Mary’s Hospital is looking to commission a local professional creative, or creatives, to work in collaboration with young people from the Isle of Wight NHS Trust Youth Forum, to transform a neglected outside space at the children’s ward into an age-appropriate garden for young people aged 11+ who are patients on, or are visiting, the Children’s Ward.

Up to £12,500 is available for this work, to include the artist’s time, materials, construction costs, installation costs, travel, expenses and VAT.  The exact amount available will be determined by the complexity of the project / cost of materials involved etc. The Rotary Club have generously agreed to clear and deck the space prior to the commission starting; providing a ‘blank canvas’ to work with.

Deadline: 10:00 on Monday 27 November 2023


For the full brief and how to apply, see the pdf below:

Call for Artists – St Mary’s Hospital Youth Forum October 2023


Recent Events

Supporting and with Support from


Sign up to our newsletter

Receive the latest News & Events straight to your inbox

Recieve the lastest News & Events straight to your inbox

Opt into another list