5 Minutes With the Co-Director and Artists From the Exchange

image © Rosie Powell

The Exchange is an exciting new collaboration between internationally acclaimed artists and young people in Brighton & Hove. 

This online, live event, supported by and streamed from The Old Market, will share the results of an 8-week exchange of creative ideas, influences and experiences and is free to watch.

The collaborations involve visual artist Lucy Cran, theatre-maker and Artistic Director of Battersea Arts Centre’s Beatbox Academy, Conrad Murray, Artistic Director of The Pappy Show, Kane Husbands, cabaret artist Le Gateau Chocolat, Australian sound and site artist Madeleine Flynn plus young people working with local colleges and charities.

We talk to the Co-Director of LOOKOUT, Charlotte Vivian, and Lily and Annie, the young artists showcasing their work.

How did The Exchange come about?

Charlotte: Lookout has been running since 2018, and our whole ethos is based around the idea of working towards future generations of happier, motivated people. We do a lot of work with a real diverse group of young people, through arts experiences, hands on workshops and one to one mentoring. Thus in turn, giving them the opportunity to explore creativity, with which helps to build both their mind-set and their career. Lookout collaborate with artists who work in the creative industry who then link up with young people who either want to explore their creative outlet that they are working on, or young people who want experience new opportunities. Connecting young people with people that are working in the real world helps to build their knowledge, skills and experiences. In the past we have done longer mentoring programmes that last up to 8 months, however this time round and we wanted to try a shorter mentoring process, and hold regular, weekly sessions. This is where the idea for The Exchange came about as we wanted to connect a smaller group of artists with young people. Not only have we worked with primary schools and people aged 16-25, we also link up with charities across Brighton and Hove, allowing underrepresented individuals have access to the same opportunities. 

Due to the theme of this year’s Festival being care, how does The Exchange care for young people?

Lily: Everyone shows a lot of care; I’m doing a piece on feminism which at times can be quite scary to talk to adults about, but with Kane I feel safe and comfortable to talk to which is really nice.

The scheduling is always very clear, so it’s easy to figure out when my calls are going to be. I also get reminded a couple of days before my call by Charlotte which is always very handy. It’s also always very well planned, which I like because I like planning! I had to miss a session once as I was ill, and the process of rescheduling was simple. 

Annie: Doing something like this can be quite scary as it’s all virtual on Zoom talking to random people, however they always make you feel comfortable. Similar to Lily, I also get reminded before the call which is good because I am quite forgetful! It helps to make you feel secure because you know when it is and what you’re doing. Le Gateau Chocolat was extremely nice and understanding, so I felt like he wasn’t just doing this because he had to, he was doing it because he cares. 

What influenced you to get involved in this creative project? And what is it that you will be showcasing? 

Lily: I got selected by my drama teachers, and from that I had an interview, which lead to my name being picked out of a hat. I was so happy when I found out I had got it! I will be performing my own feminist poem, a piece of physical theatre, and I will also incorporate interviews which I took with friends and family members asking whether they are feminists or not.

Annie: I got picked by Jo who runs Miss Represented, which I was a part of for about a year. I was so excited to have been chosen! I love creating things and I do design at college for theatre and film so this project was perfect for me to get creative. I am creating a piece of art to showcase for The Exchange. It’s a message in a bottle, as when I was 9 I made this piece about what I wanted to be like, as I have grown and dealt with different situations I am learning new things about myself so the message in the bottle is a message for my 9 year old self. I will portray the bottle like it’s going out to sea, which will create a metaphor, as the sea can take you anywhere and so can life. 

Charlotte: A lot of work that we do, focuses more on the process than the end result. We are all about exploring new things and making mistakes that help the young people to learn and grow. If someone doesn’t finish their piece then we will show that as it doesn’t have to be complete, it will show the journey that these young people have been on. 

What has it been like to be a young person this past year? And how has being a part of this project helped you through the pandemic?

Annie: It has been crazy! The first lockdown was great, because we were off school and I could chill out and we only thought it would last 2 weeks! It hasn’t affected me in a bad way but I’m getting a bit of cabin fever as it’s just boring now. I was looking forward to prom, but that got cancelled so I felt a bit let down and I haven’t seen my friends in a year which is sad. Although, I do feel like lockdown has changed me in a good way, as I have managed to reflect on a few things whilst sitting here alone. This project has given me something to do and focus on during the pandemic. It’s keeping my mind working by thinking creatively  

Lily: Lockdown 1 was incredible because it was so sunny and meant I could spend the whole time in my garden and my exams got cancelled so it was like the summer holidays came early. However since most of our lessons have been all online it’s been really tough. I never imagined it would last this long. Charlotte and Kane asked me on a Zoom call what was the last show I had been in, and I realised it was years ago! Because of COVID, there has been no chance to really be creative and now The Exchange are giving me the opportunity to perform drama which I hadn’t done in a year and a bit so I am very grateful. 

Do you feel excited to take part or are you a bit nervous?    

Annie: I am nervous but also very excited!

Lily: Yeah, same as Annie, I feel both nervous and excited!

Charlotte: We also feel nervous too! We are so used to showcasing these projects live and this year it’s going to be virtual, all in one place. It’s going to be like a TV studio which is really exciting because we haven’t done anything like this before. 

Interview by Cassie Murphy, University of Brighton

The Exchange

Thu 20 May, 7pm

Watch live