We are thrilled to let you know that the young people of Excelsior Academy won the Special Award for Outstanding Youth Achievement at last night’s Journal Culture Awards for their work on our Young Writers’ City project.

Young Writers’ City introduces young people to creative writing and makes provision for those who find a talent or interest to continue to express themselves creatively. The programme works in-depth and over the long-term with young people through schools and community groups, tailoring a range of activities according to their interests.

Since September 2015 we have been ‘embedded’ in Excelsior Academy, in the West End of Newcastle, where our project producer is based three days a week and where we bring in an inspiring and diverse range of artists and writers to work with around 400 young people each year. Over the period of the project, every Year 8 and 9 student in the academy will work on a term-long creative writing project with us, as well as having the opportunity to take part in lunchtime groups, mentoring and small group extra-curricular sessions. The programme is incredibly varied and the students have worked on everything from writing and producing their own songs, music videos and short films, and publishing their own zines and poetry pamphlets, to performing for their families and peers.

We firmly believe that the arts are for everyone and that talent is everywhere. We work hard in areas with low cultural provision to make sure that all young people can make the most of opportunities, such as our Cuckoo Young Writers programme, and enjoy the many benefits of a creative life. Our in-depth and long-term approach on Young Writers’ City allows us to build trusting relationships with young people, to develop their confidence in creative expression and to tailor support on an individual basis. This work is only possible due to our funding from Newcastle Culture Investment Fund.

“I am delighted that the work Excelsior pupils have been doing with Young Writers’ City has been recognised and celebrated through the Culture Awards. The partnership that has emerged through our work with New Writing North over the past couple of years has made a significant and in some cases life-changing impact on the creative lives of the young people we serve. As a consequence – talent has been spotted, potential has been released and creativity has blossomed. I look forward to seeing where we go next.”

Craig Taylor, Executive Principal, Excelsior Academy

“There’s no way I would have thought I would have ever have been able to get up and perform on my own. No way. I am always nervous to perform, even just talking, things like speaking out in the class. Now I have proven to myself I can do it. I think presentations and stuff are going to feel like a breeze now. It has definitely changed my perspective. I always think of myself as a shy person and now I think that I am actually really able and it has changed me. I think I can be a bigger person now than I thought I could be.”

Student, 13

“I am learning how to stand up for myself and to be unique and to use my voice and to celebrate that.”

Student, 14