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Credit: Colin MoodyRising Arts team in front of posters

Case Study – Rising Arts Agency

We, the young people of Rising, believe we have the knowledge and insight to be leaders now—not just in the future—with the potential to radically shift our cities and creative industries towards true cooperation and inclusion. 

We are a genuinely youth-led social enterprise run by young creative thinkers (aged 16-30) in Bristol. Our mission is to empower Bristol’s underrepresented young people to fulfil their creative ambitions and affect radical social change through the arts. We are anti-establishment disruptors, co-created with and for young people, and fiercely independent. Our staff team are all under 30 and our board and non-exec directors are all under 26.

Everything we do is rooted in co-creation and embedding young people in the creative and cultural sector from grassroots engagement to strategic leadership. We recognise the value and expertise that young people bring. We are committed to paying them properly for their time and insight, and listen deeply to what they have to say. 

We live our practice and embody this model of co-creation. We enable young people to realise the change-making qualities in themselves while interrogating traditional notions of what it means to be inclusive and effective in their work.

We’re a solutions-focused agency that is steeped in creativity while engaging with social justice issues. We question existing structures, amplify the voices of those who hold the least (less) power, champion transformative approaches to leadership and challenge the status quo. This is because our practice is rooted in anti-racism, decolonisation and care. We focus on active listening, being prepared to take risks and go on a journey together without fixed outcomes. Reflection and evaluation are embedded throughout all processes ensuring we can be responsive and agile. Others may see us as argumentative dissenters but our emphasis is always on how things can be done better.

Credit: ShamphatBE IT launch team members

Now is the time to champion new voices, embrace risk and advocate for change. We need new ways of working, recruiting, and collaborating. As a sector we need more transparency and vulnerability modelled at a leadership level. We need to build a new culture around this. We recognise that the best ideas are arrived at through a diversity of thought, and for that to happen you need a diverse workforce. We’re a small, genuinely diverse team working part time to make big things happen. 

The dominant perception is still that, in order to lead effectively and successfully, leaders need age and experience. The young people in Rising’s community are proving this wrong. We are placing young leaders in strategic positions across the region’s cultural sector. We do this through initiatives such as BE IT, our radical leadership programme, and OnBoard, our governance programme advocating and recruiting for more diverse boards. We have faith that by giving these young people agency, their voices will be amplified. Their visible presence within the sector will contribute towards systemic change.

Credit: Alexie SegalWhose future members standing in front of billboard