Sitting at my desk a week after the ‘New Horizons’, reflecting over what our next steps of change should be, I realise that we probably aren’t as far down the road as I [complacently] thought. For those of you that weren’t with us, ‘New Horizons’ our annual conference that we, as an organisation, use to agitate and improve our practice. We invite a range of organisations and sectors to join us for a series of conversations and collate the thoughts into a manifesto of change by the end of the day and have it in people’s hand as they leave the event. This year’s focus was the arts and children who face challenging circumstances, an area we have been working in since our inception, hence my earlier assumption that we are some way down the road. The day and the manifesto show me that The Garage, is on the road – but has a little way to go yet.

If we extend that road metaphor it might be around making sure that we stop to ask for directions – regularly. Our first conversation did just that for me, we were able to hear from experts to help us think about our actives, young people. In this conversation we heard that we need to, in a number of different ways, speak to young people and ask them what they think, feel and the challenges that they face. We must not rely on data nor should we assume we know because someone told us once. Elements of this conversation have really stayed with me in thinking about our own Youth Forum and how we can better use this to inform the work of The Garage. Yes they work really well programming at least three music events a year; and we have a hoot eating pizza from [Brick] and talking about how and what we will programme into the theatre together, and then seeing some interesting pieces of performance for young people. But I don’t think we have got this nailed, not fully anyway.

So that’s the first challenge I’m setting myself. Our youth forum. To better reflect our community and to better inform our practice.

Adam Taylor, Executive Director.

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