2011 – 2016

Rialto Youth Project

The Rialto Youth Project is based in Dublin's South West inner city. Since the 1980s the project has pioneered an arts-based approach to youth work. From early initiatives in community-led drama it currently incorporates music, street theatre, visual arts and dance into a structured arts-based programme.

In 2010 we were invited to work with RYP to formulate an arts-based form of inquiry with a focus on two key objectives:

  • to explore and describe the organisation?s core values and principles of practice
  • to explore and describe the shared pedagogical foundations underpinning the organisation?s approach to arts-based youth work

Since 2015 the Arcade Project has moved into a third phase. For Arcade 2.5 we have extended the collaborative research approach developed for Arcade 1 and 2 towards producing an overall organisational (self)description. This third phase is currently in development for a public manifestation in the form of an exhibition and website.

2015 - 2016

This third and ongoing phase has built on the collaborative, arts-based approaches developed in Arcade 1 and 2 (see below) to create an over-arching description of the Rialto Youth Project. That description encompasses:

  • Mission Statement
  • Aims
  • Philosophy (Pedagogy & Values)
  • Context
  • History
  • Structure
  • Five 'Pillars of the Project'
  • Face-to-Face Work

In 2016 Vagabond Reviews and the Rialto Youth Project will present results of this five-year collaborative research process in the form of a website and exhibition.

2011 - 2014

Drawing on the Values Framework generated in Arcade 1, this next phase involved extensive collaborative workshops with the Arts-based Working Groups within Rialto Youth Project. Together we set out to describe the structure and pedagogical features of the distinctive, arts-based approach to youth work developed over 30 years of practice.

In May 2011 we began working with the RYP Music Working Group towards mapping out and describing their distinct pedagogical approach to music and youth work. The work focused on:

  • documenting the history of practice in music
  • developing the Programme Architecture for music education
  • mapping the values for music education

Over 2012, the approach pioneered with the Music Working Group was extended to each of the other arts-based working groups. These were discipline specific working groups in Visual Arts, Dance, Street Performance and a group working on creative development for children under eight years of age.

  • Arcade 2

Arcade 2: The Gathering
October 24 25 2013

In October 2013 the substance of the Arcade 2 process was presented in an organisation-wide event at the F2 Centre. A key focus for the symposium was how to publish and disseminate the work of Arcade Two and combine it with a broader strategy of self-description for the organisation.

2014 Constructing the Arts-Based Pedagogy: Five Models of Practice

Working closely with the Arts Team Coordinators, Vagabond Reviews developed five Models of Practice describing the organisationís approach to arts-based youth work in:

  • Music
  • Visual Arts
  • Dance
  • Street Performance


  • ArtSparks: a foundational arts programme for 5 to 8 year olds

Each Model of Practice defined the art form, the pedagogical approach & philosophy, the organisational values underpinning the work along with an overview of the programme architecture for each, including components & outcomes.

January 2011 – December 2012

Arcade 1 set out to evoke organisational values by drawing on the shared perspectives of the total ecology of practice that makes up the Rialto Youth Project. As such we engaged with the Rialto Youth Project in its entirety, including its board of governance, management, youth workers and volunteers. Based in a converted studio in the fifth block of the Dolphin House flat complex, we conducted a series of workshops with the seven constituent groups that together make up the Rialto Youth Project.

Over the course of the seven workshops, 36 participants generated fourteen multi-layered sketches of their organisational territories. This mapping exercise revealed the range of understandings and degrees of identification of each group with the Rialto Youth Project as the larger, encompassing structural entity.

In the second part of each workshop participants were asked to consider the core organisational values and principles of practice underpinning their work. Using arts-based techniques combined with strategies borrowed from projective testing, participants generated 476 value statements.

  • Arcade 1 Values Workshops

Validation Event, May 2011

Working with those 476 value statements we organised emerging themes into a Values Framework. The generation of the Values Framework culminated in a Validation Event at F2 Centre, Rialto. In a validation process designed and facilitated by Vagabond Reviews, youth and community workers, volunteers, trainee youth workers and board members together comprising 40 participants were afforded an opportunity to re-visit and revise their original, workshop-based value statements and to critically engage with the Values Framework via an open forum discussion.

  • Validation Event
    Photographs Chris Maguire

Arcade One Review Sessions, Nov – December 2012

Following the May event Vagabond Reviews produced Arcade One: Mapping the Principles of Practice for the Rialto Youth Project. The document presented an overview of the values inquiry process along with the emergent organisational Values Framework. In November 2012 the Arcade 1 process was re-presented as an installation at the youth project room at F2 Centre, Rialto. Over December 2012, each of the seven constituent groups revisited the Values Framework and explored strategies for communicating and distributing the values of the Rialto Youth Project as part of a broader strategy of putting the organisation’s work out there.

  • Arcade 1 Feedback Sessions