Slow Boat15.04.2021

Ikon Youth Programme awarded funding from Freelands Foundation

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

Ikon is delighted to announce the support of Freelands Foundation in developing Ikon Youth Programme (IYP), which for ten years has navigated Slow Boat around the waterways of the West Midlands and beyond. During 2021-2024, we will expand the alternative curriculum offered by IYP, raising fundamental questions concerning the definition and relevance of art against a backdrop of societal change.

In the first year, IYP will collaborate with creative thinkers and makers to reimagine Slow Boat as a local art school – where an Arts and Crafts philosophy is adopted to overcome a sense of alienation – presenting a radical proposition in our Covid-19 era. Members 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.

Slow Boat will launch in Summer 2021. Details of events will be advertised on Ikon’s website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.*

Support from Freelands Foundation confirms 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

The removal of art from school curriculums has significantly influenced IYP which, since it began in 2010, has offered members an alternative to mainstream education and a means of creative expression. With the support of Freelands Foundation, we are able to expand Slow Boat’s reach to communities and celebrate the radical history of the Arts and Crafts movement, the architecture of which lines the canals and underscores the diverse cultural ecology of the West Midlands. Linzi Stauvers, Head of Learning, Ikon

We are delighted to support Slow Boat, and excited to see this innovative alternative art school get underway on the canals of Birmingham and the West Midlands. Ikon have long delivered exceptional art education programmes, and we hope this flagship project will continue to energise and enthuse young people in the Midlands to embrace the long tradition of making and creative practice in the region. Henry Ward, Creative Director, Freelands Foundation

Freelands Foundation has awarded Ikon £288,782 over 3 years.

Click here to read more about the history of IYP and Slow Boat. Ikon Youth Programme is for young people aged 16-21 who meet regularly to make artwork, work with professional artists, host events and develop their own projects. Find out more here.

*(subject to change, in particular as a result of Government announcements relating to the pandemic)

IYP take part in Ai Weiwei’s Fly the Flag, marking the 70th  anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, June 2019


IYP member assists a family workshop on Slow Boat, April 2018



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