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Youth Participation in Arts, Heritage, Culture and Community

A National Conversation

January 17, 201117 January 2011

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This report summarizes the results of discussions with 100 organizations and 40 youth regarding youth engagement in artistic, cultural and heritage organizations in Canadian communities.

The report’s suggestions regarding engagement models include:

  • Paying attention to process as well as outcomes, including valuing youth engagement as an experience, not simply as a means to an end.
  • Providing a “continuum of opportunities” which would allow for a range of involvement and various points of entry.
  • Providing authentic exchanges and two-way discussions.

Regarding incentives to participation, the report indicates that “youth are attracted to involvement that makes a difference, has a cause, or features activities that tap into their passion”. Some effective mechanisms to engage youth include:

  • Having youth participate in all phases of a project, including design, delivery and evaluation. Ensuring that youth are involved and have a voice in governance issues is also noted in the report.
  • Providing spaces that are safe and welcoming.
  • Recognizing youth efforts and contributions via honoraria, appreciation events or a simple thank you.

The report highlights a number of challenges in youth engagement, including resource scarcity, difficulties in reaching specific groups of young people in an effective way, as well as organizational barriers regarding communications, evaluation, changing paradigms and programmatic inflexibility.

The report contains three suggestions concerning roles for the Department of Canadian Heritage in youth engagement: “operating differently as a funder”; “developing a role as connector and network-builder”; and “building capacity”.

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