17 Mar 2013

Arts Showcase

Last night was possibly one of the highlights of my working-for-XLP career. It was a night full of excitement, encouragement and sheer celebration at the talent of young people in Lewisham.

It was XLP Lewisham Arts Showcase. It was an event that we run annually to give young people an platform to show us what they can do. And....WOW....literally WOW!! 

We had bands, singers, dancers, drummers, pianists, rappers, actors and poets - there were young people from 8 different secondary schools in Lewisham and we had a full house of people who had turned up to watch them do their thing. 

I wish I could post a video of highlights so you could see it but I don't have access to that footage and I'm not 100% sure on the safeguarding implications of doing that, but safe to say the show was a massive success!

A few highlights for me included:

  • Seeing a boy from our mentoring programme perform on the piano - first time he's performed in front of people, and earlier in the day he had been so nervous he wanted to drop out of the show. Thankfully he didn't and did an immense job.
  • Seeing every young person totally enjoy themselves on the stage - each of them had bundles of confidence and it was so amazing to see them making the most of the opportunity.
  • The atmosphere within the young people. So most of them had never met before and were effectively competing against each other (top 3 go through to London-wide final) - but you wouldn't have known it. They were so SO encouraging to each other and became solid friends through the experience. Quote of the day was "I was enjoying myself so much I forgot it was a competition"
  • Seeing a number of teachers who had come to support their students. Teachers work SO flipping hard (I live with one - I should know) and I was so encouraged to see that they had given up their time to come and cheer for their kids. One in fact asked me when the next borough showcase was because she said "it's a fantastic night out - cheap, excellent vibe and you don't get home too late" Ha.

I don't think I can convey how proud I am of my young people. People from the audience kept coming up to me and thanking me for the show...and I was like, hold up, I literally did nothing in this show other than give out certificates at the end. Everything, the talent, the atmosphere, the entertainment - was all down to the young people. Yes XLP organised the event, but they were the ones to make it a success. 

For me, seeing something like this show has encouraged me - working with young people is hard. It's draining, slow-moving and sometimes not fun. But they need it - they need people who believe in them, who will encourage them, who will help them to build confidence.

Yes. It was a really good showcase.

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