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Ikon Youth Programme: Slow Boat Launching Summer 2021

IYP fly-post Slow Boat with Birmingham artist Foka Wolf, September 2018

For ten years Ikon Youth Programme (IYP) has steered Slow Boat around the canals of the West Midlands and beyond. A converted narrow boat, it is a unique floating space for IYP, local communities and artists to make and experience art in a stimulating and creative environment.

With the support of Freelands Foundation, over the next three years (2021-2024) IYP will continue to navigate the waterways, collaborating with creative thinkers and makers to reimagine Slow Boat as a local art school. Set against the backdrop of funding cuts to arts education, we will expand the alternative curriculum offered by IYP, raising fundamental questions concerning the definition and relevance of art.

“Support from Freelands Foundation affirms our belief as young people that an alternative arts education is integral to our learning. We hope to generate new ways of thinking that will result in positive conversations with art schools, transforming social narratives and building on radical histories that reflect our everyday experiences. We are all looking forward to the future discourse around this project, including the changing space of Slow Boat; a space of provocation, a space of transformation, a space of us.” Ikon Youth Programme, Birmingham

In the first year, members of IYP will be introduced to various histories, materials and processes, including painting, sculpting, printmaking, ceramics and glassblowing. Just as local art schools of the 19th & 20th Century provided formative educational experiences for artists, designers, educators and activists, we envisage Slow Boat playing this role for many more young people.

The Slow Boat Summer School 2021 Programme (July-August) involves a number of workshops with artist tutors – John Yeadon, Betsy Bradley and Monica Perez Vega.

In collaboration with the artist tutors, IYP will curate their own public events, including Slow Boat’s launch (22 July), with a DJ set by Saffiyah Khan, former member of IYP and performer with seminal two-tone band The Specials. They will also organise public events with Celebrating Sanctuary for Ikon’s fourth Migrant Festival (19 – 22 August) and film screenings with Flatpack Festival for the August bank holiday weekend (28 – 30 August).

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