June 2018 Summertime - has been available on our website for quite a while but if you haven't heard it… for obvious reasons, it never sounds better than it does at this time of year have a listen! Mo and Sana who spent some fun and super-creative times with BIRD 2015/16 have now gone on to do some really exciting things with their respective creativity in acting and TV production/filmmaking. BIRD can’t pretend to take any credit for that; they are just super dynamic creative people, but I do get a glow of pride to have been party to their creativity and energy, and have shared in a part of their journey. Mo and Sana are not unique amongst our young artists in their energy and creativity! Of course we attract these types of referrals and individuals because we are a creative organisation.. but what is worth emphasising is the positive energy and attitude these young people bring. The young artists I meet are unrecognisable as the 'snowflakes’ vilified in the media. Almost irrespective of background and personal story, my experience is of super-creative, motivated and determined young people. They do not come in with any attitude that someone owes them something... in fact from my experience I would say the opposite is true… they are sure no-one is going to give them anything.. and they are determined to make something happen for themselves. This is not to say that they do not have their struggles, but there is an entrepreneurialism amongst them that seems to have grown hand in hand with the great democratising power of the digital age and all the tools and opportunity that come with it. Being the pioneers at the frontier of the digital age is a double edge sword for today’s youth but this democratisation particularly around creativity, where powerful tools are accessible, and fabulous results are easier to achieve is empowering and has had an aspirational effect. Of course with this comes the inevitable dreams of fame and fortune and part of our role - whilst protecting creativity and encouraging enthusiasm - is to bring balance and perspective. I often speak plainly with our artists about how difficult it is, or even how unlikely it is, that they will become ‘famous’ or even be able to make a living from their art. How BIRD encourages them though is by emphasising the value of their creativity, their art, for living fulfilling and rich lives. Creativity is worth pursuing and fighting for irrespective of what may ‘come of it’ - it has enormous value in and of itself, for expressing ourselves and for enriching our experiences. I often encourage BIRD artists that If anything is to ever come of their art - any recognition or ‘success’ - it’ll most likely happen if they put the creative process first and concentrate on doing the best work they can; by engaging authentically, telling their stories, reflecting who they really are through their creative gifts. After all it is our own-selves, our own stories that make us unique; that has to be our starting point as artists too - if we don’t bring that, what is there to set us apart? Authenticity is attractive and recognising the uniqueness of our own experience and expressing that creatively is equally attractive. Apart from that, if any measure of success is achieved, it is much more likely to last, be enjoyable and fulfilling if it is based on something real. Equal and opposite to the aspirational effect that the digital age's great democratisation, has had on our youth, is the negative effect of the endless stimuli they are bombarded with: the pressures of keeping up a social media presence, the proliferation of porn online, sexting, cyber-bullying, realistic and brutal video games, youtube 'Drill' videos glorifying gang culture and violence; and a pop culture generally that is obsessed with, self, wealth, materialism, celebrity, gossip and ‘opinion’. This can have an eroding effect on their wellbeing and sense of self and safety, which accumulatively can have a desensitising and 'dehumanising' effect on them. I myself am regularly encouraged as to the effectiveness of our sessions and the truth of the story we tell about BIRD around these issues of wellbeing. Time and again I will have a session where some chance for growth, or opportunity for connection (in relationship or with our own feelings) is taken and I see the power our sessions have for re-sensitising and a re-humanising. I was working with a young lady in her twenties recently: having listened to her lyrics I encouraged her to think about what it was she was saying, who she was saying it to, and to invest that in her performance… We went for the take again… This time only one line was managed before she stopped… we went again, same thing… then quiet. I hope I do not flatter myself by saying I was empathetic enough to sense what was going on, and let the silence be. It was clear that really engaging with what had motivated the song in the first place was emotional. I was able to let that emotion be… not to immediately attempt to comfort with hollow words but to allow the space for the genuine simple emotion to be felt. I left her space to say as much or as little as she wanted by way of moving through the moment and when she was ready we went again to try for the performance, acknowledging first that the emotion would have tighten up her throat a little and to warm back up into it. We captured a beautifully real emotion and a vulnerable performance after that; but most importantly, our artist had had time and a safe space to feel; to connect to a soft and sore place in her heart. I communicated to her how proud I was of her and how well she had done to connect with what was real for her… not many of us can even identify our feelings most of the time let alone connect to them and then engage with them enough to be able to invest them into a song. There was power in the session not just creatively but personally for that artist, to feel, to move through and I hope in some part to heal. Another session with a lad in his twenties was equally as powerful. After we had completed the recording of the vocal part, I congratulated our artist on the power and authenticity of his chorus I reflected back to him though that the verses had no connection to the lyric in the chorus, and that I would like him to re-write the verses and to think more carefully about what his chorus was saying and to meet the quality of that authenticity with the verse lyrics. ‘do you want to write them down or freestyle it’, I asked him… ‘freestyle’ was the answer. What happened next was an absolute privilege to be part of as take after take he ‘went there’ and told his real experience and expressed something difficult, something of his struggle and something true of himself. Again it was an emotional session, and it is important to be able to have the time, with no pressure, to be able to hold these moments and not rush through them; to acknowledge them without embarrassment or awkwardness and to be able to hold the weight of them. Hopefully you can see from these examples just how powerful and effective BIRD’s sessions can be not only for practically offering help to our young artists creative endeavours, but also how relationships are built through authentically engaging in a creative process together and how that in turn can re-humanise and re-sensitise them improving and sustaining their wellbeing. If you would like to support our one-to-one sessions you can set up a regular gift or give a one off donation here.