HOLD - Effervescent

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This project was one iteration of a larger two-year programme that set out to build an evidence base showing the value of collaborative art-curation and campaigning with vulnerable young people. As well as a measurable positive impact on the young people who took part, the work attracted a diverse audience that wouldn’t usually visit galleries.

We collaborated with a group of eight young people who have experienced poor mental health, or have struggled to cope with trauma. The group’s shared lived experience gave them a level of empathic insight into the challenges faced by other young people. Given an opportunity to do something that might benefit others, they jumped at the chance.

Through a process of talking, listening, experimenting and playing, the group developed a narrative around the difficulty of not only finding the support that you need, but even understanding your own needs in the first place, and then communicating them. Together we created a live gallery performance that involved set-design, music, lighting, sound art and aerial performance.

Amidst a soundscape of confusion and conflicting thoughts, our performer takes a literal leap of faith from a two-metre high tower and, suspended from a zip-wire, hauls themselves through the space using any hand-hold they can grasp. Although their movement is “transfixing and intense” (audience feedback) we can see that their struggle is real. A telephone rings at the end of the room, but it is just beyond the outstretched fingers of the performer. As the ringing gives way to a haunting song with a beautifully fragile voice, the character slumps, exhausted, and is winched slowly back along the wire. As they return to their starting point, the music ends and stillness descends. The performer prepares for the next attempt… 

80% of young participants showed significant improvement in wellbeing

The participants experienced a boost to their confidence, wellbeing, and their ability to process and communicate emotions. They are better at collaborating, are happier, and more resilient.

“ I think we all left as different people than we showed up as. I was scared at first but knowing that everyone there has been through stuff similar to me made it easier to like fit in. I'm so happy i didn't turn the opportunity down because it was probably the best experience of my life ”

Participant, 15

Excellent levels of engagement

40% of participants had poor school attendance records; but across all iterations of this project, 90% of them attended more than 80% of their sessions with Effervescent.

“ We are so thankful and wish that this project could go on and on... her progress has been astonishing. ”

Parent of participant

Broadening the appeal of the arts

Only 18% of visitors were regular gallery-goers. For 21% of visitors, this was their first ever visit to a gallery. 41% were under the age of 25 compared to a national average of 17%.