The project was in partnership between Oldham Council and Square 1 Studios with the idea to engage with young people between the ages of 16-21 who came from NEET backgrounds (Not In Education, Employment and Training) whilst introducing them to music and filmmaking.


The project ran for full days (6 hours) twice a week for 12 weeks, with a total of two different cohorts. Activities included teaching various forms of music making, filmmaking and  working towards achieving an Arts Award qualification. A total of 23 young people completed this project and received a Bronze Arts Award.


  1. Young people to remain engaged in something positive and productive
  2. Young people to evidence skills learnt in music and filmmaking
  3. Young people to produce a series of new music and films
  4. Young people to achieve an Arts Award qualification (Bronze)
  5. Young people to make better life choices after the project (college, job etc)


  1. Three young people learnt how to play the guitar
  2. Seventeen young people learnt how to produce music using both Cubase and Reason
  3. Twelve young people learnt how to write lyrics, perform and record these
  4. Seven young people learnt how to use the recording studio
  5. Three films where produced in the form of a music video, short feature film and a mini documentary
  6. Four young people signed up to a college course (music/film related)
  7. One young person featured on Don’t Flop TV (rap battle)
  8. Five young people managed to secure employment, apprenticeship and volunteering opportunities


The main highlights from this project included the journey most young people went through, mainly the changes that were evident from some of them. As many of these participants where from hard to reach backgrounds, the relationships that were developed as a result of this project became a key highlight from the project. Some young people have taken on their interest further in creative arts, both academically and personally (making music at home) 


Some of the challenges included behavioural issues we faced from young people. Although we managed to get them disciplined and engaged in most cases, however at times it was really demanding. We found that the key to get good behaviour from young people was as a result of the relationship we built with them. Another challenge was from the fact that the group’s musical interests were really wide and diverse and wanted to all learn different things. Although in theory this is great however it had a knock on effect on both our available resources and manpower, which where both limited at the time and created a challenge within itself. Proper planning, diversifying our activities and structuring our sessions helped us meeting the needs of young people more regardless of our limited resources.

Another funny challenge was that some young people where really young in heart and mind whilst some really mature (more than their age) Although this wasn’t a huge problem but the challenge was sometimes to make activities, discussions and resources fit for all… which we learnt not to do (more below)


As a result of dealing with young people who had different skill sets, interests and abilities, we learnt what an individualised learning plan was, its benefits and how to use them effectively. We also learnt that when dealing with young people with so many differences, in order to get their voices heard, we should have facilitated more one to ones. Although we did this only in the second cohort of the project, as the need and benefit of this identified later on but something we will be doing in all our future projects.

Also as this was a project where we had to run multiple activities at the same time, the method of dividing the project into mini projects is something we picked up, from its planning, delivery and evolutional prospective. We learnt how to use our small learning spaces more effectively and how to run three different activities at the same time, with sessions carefully and tactically planned so each one fits into the other smoothly (although it didn’t at times)

We also learnt how to run filmmaking workshops and this is something we will be looking into developing further in the future.


“The Art Smart Project was a innovative and challenging new concept for Oldham Council and having chosen Square 1 Studios to do it, we couldn’t have asked for a more dedicated, committed and creative company to work with. The results have been fantastic and well received by both the young people and the Oldham Council! Very much looking forward to our next partnership project with Square 1 Studios”

Rodney Adams – Oldham Council




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