European Project: ART4US

Using the power of the arts to transform the lives of young people (mixed-ability youth) and promote mental well-being and inclusion.

When working with people experiencing disadvantage or exclusion, young people may face many barriers that can hinder their access to the arts and culture, such as a lack of family support, a low-income background, preconceptions of what the arts are about and who they are for, as well as an individual’s concept of identity. Youth workers are often semi-formal gatekeepers that notice difficulties some young people may experience such as isolation, exclusion, lack of self-esteem, depression, drug use, bullying,  and violence-related behaviors. These may have an  effect in drop-out rates from school and university education, and prevent young people from achieving personal potential, acting as barriers to active participation in civil society.

It is a European priority to promote positive mental well-being and inclusion of young people. This implies that youth policies should work towards reducing inequalities within groups of young people and should work towards promoting positive mental health and well being of young people. The mission of ART4US is to use the power of the arts to transform the lives of young people (mixed-ability youth) and to promote positive mental wellbeing and inclusion. The project pairs the capacity building needs of youth workers regarding mental health, inclusion and the arts and young people, bringing together youth with a wide range of skills and abilities to create art, drama, digital filmmaking and dance.

The project works with youth workers and young people to build art and digital skills and to  promote positive mental health and the inclusion for young people using participatory art approaches and creative media practices. ART4US aims to support positive mental health-informed and inclusive youth work practices through the interdisciplinary collaboration of organizations and professionals and to promote the positive mental health and inclusion of young people through the use of creative/artistic approaches. The main results are the provision of innovative training tools for the promotion of mental wellbeing and inclusion among young people through measured effectiveness of ART4US practice, empowered capacity of youth workers through innovative curricula and art-media approaches.

ART4US will take a creative, multi-artform approach bringing together seven countries across Europe. The project is supported by Erasmus+ and the seven partners are SAFE, UK (lead partner); Smashing Times, Dublin, Ireland; Kane, Greece; Point Europa, UK; In the City, the Netherlands; DkBel, France; and Intras, Spain.