When I first heard about Agência de Redes para a Juventude (The Agency) about 6 years ago I thought that this would be a dream project to work on, here I am 6 years later and the dream, has come true.
The Agency has allowed me to operate in mine and surrounding communities with young people, helping with them to help address some of the social issues we face.
Working with young people (Agents) from the Butetown Riverside and Grangetown areas of Cardiff Mathilde Lopez, a theatre director and Ali Goolyad, a poet and performer have been using their skills and methodologies and adapting them to social entrepreneurism, using theatre games or writing exercises to help our Agent imagine and develop potential businesses that can possible address some of the issues or barriers our communities face.
The first cycle of the Agency is geared towards the Agents pitching their idea to a panel, the panel will award three of the ideas a budget of £2000 to be tested and develop in the second cycle. But for me, being awarded the budget is the icing on the cake. What I think is amazing about the Agency has been to watch to group grow as a collective but also to watch the Agents grow in confidence, grow in their ability to problem solve, to grow in their ability to hold an audience.
This really hit home on Saturday 24th November, the Agents were tasked with organising a community event, where they would invite the public to come and listen to their ideas, give feedback. The event was well attended and it was really heartening to see all of the Agents buzzing, excitedly telling friends, family and complete strangers about their ideas.
I know that if we would have asked the Agents explain their ideas to complete strangers at the beginning of this process their would have been a lot of sweating and stuttering (as I would have done in the same situation). But because of the methodology of the Agency, started by Marcus Faustini in the Favelas of Brazil and then adapted for the UK by Marcus, Contact Theatre and Battersea Arts Centre, our Agents by this stage where well equipped the handle the situation and handle it well.
It amazing to think that young people in Rio, Manchester and London have gone through this process and their allumni is now joined by Agents from Cardiff and Belfast (through work carried out by FabLab Belfast)
The Agents go to panel on the 8th December.