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Curious Blog: Spotlight On Blaze

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Curious Blog: Spotlight On Blaze

Matt Wilde - Blaze Project Manager - tells us about the history of Blaze, it's current projects, and his hopes and ambitions for the future.




Founded in 2012 as an Olympic Games legacy project, Blaze produces youth-led arts events, festivals and leadership opportunities for young people of all abilities across the North West. Our aim is to develop the next generation of cultural producers. We also work with organisations across the region to support them to develop and amplify youth-voice, research and consultation.

Projects in the last twelve months have included an acclaimed youth-led festival, "Blaze Festival" which saw a group of 30 young producers shape and lead on a festival from conception to completion, a magazine "Culture on a Shoestring" led and written by young people and "Blaze Transformers" an imaginative project that embeds young people in the creative design and decision making of "Re-Imagining the Harris".

Blaze Transformers is an example of best practice. Young people from across Lancashire shaped the Harris’ capital grant application to Heritage Lottery Fund by working with Senior Managers, architects, designers, historians and curators. This project has been shaped by my own experiences as a Blaze participant. I have continuously seen for myself what can be achieved by giving young people complete autonomy over a project, including the strategic direction, marketing, budgeting, interviewing and commissioning of professional artists. The Harris found an authentic commitment and desire to embed young people in their building and the results have been outstanding.

Blaze is going through an exciting period of growth and development. At present, Blaze is legally managed by Curious Minds, who are supporting Blaze with back-office support and mentoring, to transition into becoming a fully independent organisation that continues to thrive. This support has allowed Blaze to maintain autonomy, achieve growth, stability and innovation and, in the near future, will allow us to appoint a Board of Directors who’ll take the new organisation to new heights.

Over the next five years, I see Blaze being recognised nationally for its work amplifying youth voice; working with a diverse range of partners including cultural organisations and businesses to embed young people organisationally and allow them to genuinely shape their offers and contribute, collaborate, co-create and host physical and scalable projects and events. We will continue advocating for the power and importance of young people and raise the aspirations of organisations for what they can become and to realise their commitment to share decision making with young people.

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