Helen Le Brocq
Helen has been Director of OYAP Trust, Oxfordshire’s award-winning youth arts charity, since 1998, after training at Central School of Speech and Drama and pursuing a career as a theatre director, specialising in youth and community theatre. She specialises in devising arts projects that are irresistibly engaging to reach the most vulnerable young people, and in mentoring emerging young artists at the start of their careers in participatory arts. She has become an experienced arts consultant and trainer, and has been at the heart of developing and growing national initiatives, such as the English Youth Arts Network and the Arts Awards. She is a guest lecturer at Buckinghamshire New University devising performance and participatory arts projects that enable students to apply their learning in the real world. In 2012 and 2014 Helen took her trainer and facilitator skills to work with the National Arts Council of Singapore on Artswork’s behalf, training their youth and social workers and teachers on how to use the arts to engage with hard to reach young people. Helen has been working as a trainer on Artswork’s Professional Development programme (formerly Artsplan) since it first started way back in 2003.
Helen has been exploring how disengaged young people can design their own way back into engagement with learning on their own terms, through a range of arts interventions. From arts flexi schools in museums, to youth action teams commissioning their own cultural events and programmes, the concept of mentoring is absolutely core to the approach OYAP takes in their work with young people, especially in developing their leadership potential. Helen has mentored over 40 young emerging cultural leaders in the early stages of their career, using creativity as a means of unlocking ideas, project ambitions, personal hopes and practical opportunities. As part of OYAP’s Stepping Up Young Leaders training programme for young creatives, she developed mentor training in association with Oxford Brookes Business School, and set about training cultural professionals to work alongside OYAP’s trainees. This proved to be a very powerful and effective means to enable our young artists setting goals for their own development, overcoming challenges they face and bumps along the way, and achieving impressive outcomes for themselves and their wider communities. This training, Mentoring: The Next Creative Generation, has been delivered to hundreds of arts and cultural organisations across the UK, including forming a core plank of training for the alumni of University of the Arts London, on their careers development programmes, for Creative and Cultural Skills Wales and for Youth Theatre Arts Scotland’s new mentoring resource. Alongside Mentoring training, Helen has written further training courses for Artswork Professional Development; Supporting Young People in the Workplace, Peer Mentoring and the Arts, and Managing Young People at Work. She is currently focusing on arts, young people and mental health and wellbeing programming at OYAP, and developing specific training around this area for Artswork.
Her current passion project though is converting a derelict and vandalised Victorian School building in Bicester, Oxfordshire, into a vibrant cultural hub for young people and the wider cultural community, including installing a theatre space, artist studios, recording studios and a radio station. And in navigating the challenges of this enormous project, Helen will of course be seeking someone who can mentor her through this.