This year, funding has been awarded to four individuals (referred to as Agents), accelerating their missions to achieve cultural cohesion, reduce school exclusion rates and to express joy through games and play.
The Agency is a creative youth enterprise project working with young people from underserved areas to develop and deliver events, projects and businesses that will have a positive impact on their local communities. Their business plans are pitched to a panel of experts following which successful applicants are provided with professional training, support and advice needed to develop their projects along with a £2000 seed fund to help launch their projects.
This year, four young people have been successful in securing funding after serving on a panel of experts including John McGrath of Manchester International Festival, artist Afreena Islam-Wright and Chris Bartlett of the BBC.
John McGrath said:
“It was a privilege to meet the young agents and to hear about their ideas to create positive change in their communities. They each had such passion, creativity and commitment, as well as great ideas. It was so impressive to see the ways in which they are using the skills and techniques they have developed through The Agency.”
Afreena Islam-Wright said:
“Being a panellist for the Agency was a humbling experience. The ideas, perspectives, and visions that were shared with us made me feel so privileged, and it is so exciting to know that some of these projects will be supported and nurtured.”
The Agents of 2022 include Dorcas*, who launched Kulture Fest, a celebration of African culture in North Manchester. Featuring a range of local Manchester artists, including HERchester, Kofi Gyamfi, Richard Kankendo, Kulture Fest saw hordes of audiences united over food, music and shared experience.
Hannah* was supported to build Ludi Juegos Jocs which brings people together in Moston and Harpurhey to learn games from other cultures and achieve cultural cohesion. The aim of the project is for young people to tackle racism in the area, make new friends and come together through play.
Pedro*, the next successful Agent of this year’s cohort, is developing Off the Ropes with his seed fund, a boxing project that supports teenagers to channel their emotions through boxing.
Farhad*, the final successful Agent, pitched his project Potential which hopes to create opportunities for young people to unlock viable careers by building reciprocal relationships with businesses and entrepreneurs across the UK. Farhad said:
“The Agency has given me the chance to be in a positive environment, it has helped me to have hope, and to see that there is another page to life, another perspective”.
Over the past nine years, The Agency projects directly engaged almost 23,000 community participants and audiences. In total, 355 young people across the UK have gone through The Agency methodology, with 104 Agents going on to lead 60 social enterprise projects in Manchester, London, Cardiff and Belfast. 46 of these projects are still running today, with many Agents leading COVID-response activity in their communities over the past two years.
In 2021, The Agency was awarded £1.28m by The National Lottery Community Fund. The much-needed investment from The National Lottery Community Fund underscored the phenomenal achievements of the Agents to date who have already been through the programme, especially their capacity for creativity, insight, and innovation.
Lead Facilitator and Manchester Culture Award nominee Kate Bradnam said:
“We have been running The Agency in Moston and Harpurhey for nine years now, and the amazing ideas and incredible young people just keep on coming. This year is no exception with four outstanding Agents receiving funding and the support of a producer for sixteen weeks to help make their ideas a reality.
Lots of people come in to work with the Agents in the last sixteen weeks and experiencing their reaction to the Agents and their projects is just brilliant – to see the belief and advocacy of professionals from across the city is affirming for us and the Agents.”
Successful Agents from previous cycles include Dawn to the Light, who have gone on to be awarded £20,000 from the Ardonagh Trust to develop their project exploring mental health through gaming.
Find out more about The Agency on social media and follow the project on Twitter & Instagram @agency_change #theagency #makersofchange. For further information about The Agency, follow this link.
*Surnames have been omitted for privacy reasons