Blaze began as an ambitious project in 2012 when 30 young producers organised and programmed their own festival of art and culture as part of the North West’s cultural legacy program for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. You can watch a film about the first Blaze festival here:
In 2016, Curious Minds began supporting Blaze with the aim of the project becoming an independent organisation. In 2018 we became a CIO (Charitable Incorporated Organisation) and the first charity in the UK to write into its constitution that 51% of trustees would be aged 30 or under at the time of their appointment.
Over the past decade, Blaze has developed a reputation for training and developing the next generation of creative producers. Our alumni have gone on to successful careers in the arts; working for organisations such as the BBC and establishing themselves as freelance producers.
“Lancashire and the North West are home to some of the highest areas of deprivation in the country; young people here very much need opportunities to experience, participate in and lead on the kinds of cultural events and programmes that Blaze creates and offers. I have seen first-hand what an extraordinary, life-changing, powerfully positive influence Blaze can be in the lives of young people, who are often at a turning point in their lives and looking for direction.”
Rachel Hawthorn, Arts Engagement Manager, Burnley Mechanics.
Blaze has also developed a reputation for being at the forefront of youth led practice by having young people lead the organisation and make decisions at every level. We’ve shared our learning and experience with numerous cultural organisations across Lancashire, supporting them to listen to and embed youth voices within their activity. One of the most successful partnerships has been with The Harris in Preston who now have a group of young producers and a youth panel who are shaping the future of the organisation:
“Blaze is a vitally important part of the cultural infrastructure across Preston, Lancashire and the North West. At a time of such significant social and technological change it is vital that the voice and creative talents of young people are celebrated. Blaze has a very successful track record of delivering high quality and inclusive cultural activities with young people embedded in their development and delivery.”
Jon Finch, former Re-Imagining the Harris Project Leader, Preston City Council
Ten years on from our first major project the needs of young people have changed significantly. The methodologies that we have developed over the past ten years have the potential to go beyond supporting diverse young people into creative careers. By supporting and training young people to produce cultural activity, we are nurturing creative citizens; people who have creative skills that can be applied in a wide variety of settings and benefit communities on a local and global scale.
Do it yourself or do it together.
We don’t do things for young people, with do things with young people. We nurture communities that can achieve amazing things through creativity and collaboration.
We believe that diversity leads to innovation, inspiration and stronger communities. We support and encourage people to try new things, visit new places and meet new people. We are committed to tackling inequality and promoting inclusion.
Listen and reflect.
We listen to understand and we reflect to learn. We value creativity and curiosity as much as knowledge and experience.
We ask rather than assume. We challenge pre-conceptions about young people, about art and culture and we challenge ourselves to be aware of and breakdown our own prejudices.
We encourage experimentation and risk taking as a route to innovation and when things don’t go to plan we reflect, we learn and we move forward.
MEET THE TEAM
Helen Thackray, Director
Hannah Whitlow, Programmes Producer
MEET THE TRUSTEES
Lydia Hesketh, Co-Chair
Derri Burdon, Co-Chair
He’s worked as a professional musician and completed the Clore Fellowship in 2012.