A SPECIAL APPEAL
From The Chair of Trustees, The GAP Arts Project
“When I was 17 and your typical teenager just starting college, I found my sense of self and an avenue to think about the world in which I lived, through youth theatre. Ceri and Richard of Big Brum TIE ran the youth theatre at that time, and later went on to found it as a young people’s theatre company in 2009. Today that company is The GAP Arts Project, an independent arts education charity working across all art forms, providing an inclusive, free place for young people to explore their sense of self and place in the world, and to examine the issues that affect their lives. I qualified and began practice as a barrister that same year and readily agreed to become Chair of the Board of Trustees: I wanted to support and participate in this brilliant project, and to reconnect with those incredible experiences I had as a young person - albeit as an observer – and to see today’s young people being changed by those experiences which changed me.
"In an unforgiving world, where there is intense pressure on today’s youth -
in education, family, finding work, a home and a start in life - it is essential
that there is a place for them to explore their life experience artistically,
with the support of committed professionals. I would never have read
Brecht’s Fear and Misery of the Third Reich, let alone performed it, had
it not been for the free provision of an excellent youth theatre. That play
enriched my two-dimensional view of history and helped me understand
the real horror of fascism and the fragility of a free society. But for that
youth theatre, I would never have gone to Bosnia, to the Mostar Youth
Theatre Festival, and seen for myself the wanton destruction of war in
the bombed buildings and charred walls of that town. I would never
have placed myself in the shoes of those far less privileged than me
– e.g. asylum seekers or those living under military occupation
- without improvising or performing plays which focused on their lives.
"In art, there is real potential to shape, expand and enrich a young person’s life experience; not pedestrian art, like going to a gallery, but art which a person creates, builds and owns themselves. The GAP facilitates and empowers young people to create art and provides a place to share it with their peers and the wider community; it brings young people together to exchange ideas, collaborate, problem-solve and unify; it generates meaningful experiences and forges significant connections which would not otherwise have existed in this city. My personal experience is that this will leave a lasting impact on young people and will undoubtedly shape them positively, as mindful, interested, active citizens.
I am so very proud to support the Friends of The GAP and to count myself as a Friend. The GAP’s work, now in its tenth year, is vital and indispensable - this work will not be done by government, councils or anyone else. This is community work and I hope as members of our community you will share my commitment to see it done."
Iqbal Mohammed, Barrister
Chair of The Board of Trustees
The GAP Arts Project
Friends of The GAP Scheme
What's The GAP?
The GAP is a youth-led, young people's arts organisation and creative and cultural space. It is a charity run on the vision, talent, hard work and sheer good will of a core team of young creative producers, supported by a team of 20-30 young volunteers from the local community. Apart from the organisation's founder and mentor, everyone is 16-30, the majority under 25 years of age.
What does it do?
Since founding in 2009 as 'Theatre Ark', The GAP has worked with hundreds of young people from across Birmingham. Together we've created major theatre productions, significant art exhibitions, run festivals and craft fayres, published quality photographic books, put on amazing live music, supported dozens of emerging young artists, mentored scores of young producers, engaged young asylum seekers and those at risk of homelessness, and many more. We have worked with significant partners locally, such as the University of Birmingham, The Children's Society and the RSC, with international partners from Budapest and Beijing, and taken young people to perform in Hungary and China. In 2016 we realised a long held ambition — to open an arts and cultural centre dedicated to young people's creativity, which has since developed and grown into a suite of welcoming, flexible, creative spaces including a gallery, a workshop, a basement theatre and performance space and, most recently, our own community café.
Why Is it Important?
In the same ten years we've been running The GAP, 43 youth centres and projects run by Birmingham City Council have been closed down. Spending on youth services has been cut by 70%. Over a similar period, creative subjects have been gradually phased out or are steadily falling off the school curriculum, as the arts are increasingly disparaged at the highest levels of government. When young futures are uncertain and precarious, and with the general well-being of young people at an all-time low (The Prince's Trust Youth Index) and their mental health concerns at an all-time high, independent spaces such as The GAP — where young people can explore their world creatively and create their own values, their own stories, their own selves — offer a crucial haven for meaning-making, forging connections, developing confidence and finding community, an offer that is more important than ever before.
How can I help?
Our Friends of The GAP Scheme is an opportunity to support young people's creativity and be part of their future at The GAP. By becoming a Friend of The GAP with a regular subscription, you are helping us to continue to offer quality, meaningful, creative opportunities and facilities for young people locally and across Birmingham. In return you can enjoy a range of benefits, including priority news and booking, invitations to all exhibition previews, and more.
What will my Friendship achieve?
The GAP team is supported by a diverse and committed board of trustees, and we run our delivery on a patchwork of project funding. But competition for funding is fierce, and as yet we have no core funding to make sure our doors stay open to young people. Your Friends of The GAP subscription will be put to good use in any number of ways, such as:
Providing further creative opportunities for young people
Helping to put on more free events for children and families
Improving facilities and resources
Developing volunteer experience and training
and many more.
What benefits can Friends of The GAP expect to enjoy?
Acknowledgment on our website, social media and in any publications
Early bird offers e.g. 20% discount on theatre tickets
Special invitations to all exhibition previews with complimentary drinks
A 20% discount voucher to use in our community café, The MIX
How do I become a Friend of The GAP?
Simply fill in the form below. By providing your details we can keep in touch with you, and claim Gift Aid if you're a UK taxpayer.
Click here to fill out the donation form