THE ARCADE PROJECT
2011 – 2016
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:
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
Working closely with the Arts Team Coordinators, Vagabond Reviews developed five Models of Practice describing the organisationís approach to arts-based youth work in:
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.
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.
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.
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.