Youthful Cities Programme Culminates in Immersive Experiences

  • Young creatives from Coventry and Nairobi collaborate on new digital stories
  • New film and immersive audio experience to be released on 28 April 2022 on BBC Taster
  • Showcased as part of a Global Youth Series celebratory event on 28 April
  • A unique partnership between Coventry City of Culture Trust, British Council, The Space and BBC R&D

The Youthful Cities Digital Storytelling Lab is a unique creative development programme that has brought together a team of young creatives - filmmakers, digital artists, writers, musicians and changemakers from Coventry and Nairobi – in a cultural and creative skills exchange to develop two new digital stories designed to inspire change within their cities.

The young people joined the Digital Storytelling lab in July 2021 and have since taken part in a specially devised learning programme, designed to introduce them to a range of cutting-edge immersive storytelling techniques, tools and platforms. A series of masterclasses, creative labs and workshops have been delivered by a range of digital trailblazers to mentor and support the young people, enabling them to create their own new short-form immersive and interactive digital experiences. Working with a suite of tools from BBC MakerBox, prototypes were developed before the experiences progressed to full production.

The works, entitled Our Daily Bread and Now That I Know Things, explore issues such as youth unemployment and life post-graduation and make use of data from the Youthful Cities Index. The Index highlights the priorities and concerns for youth in global cities, in areas including education and employment, culture and creativity, democracy and representation.

Our Daily Bread is an interactive short film, made using BBC R&D StoryFormer, that explores different city themes and how they impact a young individual’s mental health state whilst going through the hurdles of job hunting. In this experience, audiences can make choices about how the story unfolds and move between scenes set in Nairobi and those set in Coventry.

Now That I Know Things is a spatial audio experience, made using BBC R&D’s Audio Orchestrator, that follows the range of thoughts, feelings and experiences of Aisha in Nairobi and Sara in Coventry as they navigate their graduation days. The project uses connected smart devices; laptops, tablets and phones to deliver an immersive  audio experience that listeners can explore.   

Both works have been created by teams collaborating and working remotely, through various stages of lockdown, across Nairobi and Coventry.

The works will premiere and be available to experience on BBC Taster from Thursday 28 April.

Watch Now That I Know Things - A Spatial Audio Experience

Watch Our Daily Bread - An Interactive Short Film

BBC Taster is a website that showcases the organisation’s immersive and interactive experiences, encouraging users to share what they’ve just tried with their friends.

The experiences will also be showcased at events designed to celebrate the Global Youth Series in Coventry and Nairobi on 28th April, where young artists and changemakers will come together to share their experiences and creativity. The Global Youth Series events spotlight the ways in which digital technology and art can come together to highlight the global conversations which young adults can create together, through artists, makers, storytellers and activists.

Team Katande said “By sharing our stories with the world our goal is to inspire policymakers, activists and governments to be intentional and deliberate in combating issues that affect young people across the globe. We’ve all acquired skill sets that we can't wait to put into practice for future projects and made new alliances with a network of revolutionary creatives to connect with and learn from. It's been a season of learning and growth both professionally and personally.”

Alexandra Talbott, Programme Manager, International and Youthfulness, Coventry City of Culture, said, “While interweaving the unique experiences and identities of Nairobi and Coventry, these important new immersive stories highlight the shared challenges young people face as they seek to make their mark. The work reflects the immense creative talent to be found across both cities and the power of international collaboration’

David Codling, the British Council’s Global Arts Portfolio Adviser, said, "We are delighted to support the Youthful Cities Digital Storytelling Lab and be part of the partnership that will showcase this exciting collaboration that connects young creative practitioners in these two cities through digital storytelling. This immersive experience and the projects surrounding it illustrate how our work in supporting international links enriches and supports the growth of the creative sectors both in the UK and other countries. We look forward to seeing the artists and innovators exchange ideas and learn from each other as they explore issues from different cultural perspectives.”

The Youthful Cities Digital Storytelling Lab is a unique partnership between Coventry City of Culture Trust, British Council, The Space and BBC R&D to create new media to inspire change in Coventry and Nairobi. It is also part of a wider programme between Coventry UK City of Culture, the British Council and Youthful Cities to facilitate a cultural and creative skills exchange between young people across the globe. Other partner cities include Beirut (Lebanon), Bogotá (Colombia) and Detroit (USA). The programme celebrates cities where the citizens are activists, shaping their own futures through art, creativity, and technology

The partnerships are inspired by research conducted by ‘Youthful Cities’, who, since 2012, have been on a mission to make cities around the world better places for your people to live, work and play. The Youthful Cities Index highlights the priorities and concerns for youth in global cities, in areas including education and employment, culture and creativity, democracy and representation, and city-making and urbanism

Young people involved in the project:

Millan Tarus, Tracy Mwaura, Mike W. Khakame, Anlo Kanga, Naserian Koikai, Precious Narotso,  in Nairobi and James Grubb, Lanaire Aderemi, Demy Jozeph, Michael Mihoc in Coventry

For further information, images, project links and interviews, please contact Michael Barrett at [email protected] or 07813-558772

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