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Cash from Criminals Inspires Young People's Creativity

Young people find their Creative Identities.

On a visit to Elgin, Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, met Charlene Hart, a young woman who was inspired to progress a career in the arts after taking part in a government-funded Creative Identities programme.

The meeting comes as Creative Scotland launches the next phase of a three-year Creative Identities: CashBack for Creativity programme of high quality dance, music, film and digital media activity for children and young people across Scotland.

The programme is funded by the Scottish Government’s CashBack for Communities programme, which reinvests the proceeds of crime back into communities and benefit Scotland’s young people. 

Twenty year-old Charlene Hart, took part in the Creative Identities pilot project in 2009 when a group of Moray teenagers devised, filmed, and acted in a Zombie horror, Sleeper, which aimed to tackle graffiti in the stairwell of Elgin's St Giles Centre car park through activity in the arts.  The young people became involved after being approached on the street by inspirational Community Warden Debbie Anderson and the creative team behind the Stairwells project.

This positive experience has inspired Charlene to take part in a range of other arts projects including the hard hitting, Kutting Edge Youth Theatre production, 'Bottle' which toured into all Moray secondary schools during autumn 2010.  Charlene has continued to take part in further productions including an adaptation of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, and is keen to progress a career in the arts.  She is currently involved on theatrical adaptations of teen screenplays.

On meeting the Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs and talking about her involvement in the Creative Identities project, Charlene, said;

‘Having never had the opportunity to get involved in this kind of project before, I jumped at the chance to be part of the Stairwells project.  It was a brilliant experience and we all got a chance to get involved in front of the camera and behind the scenes.  We learned creative and practical skills - it was the first time I had ever used a camera - and it’s grown from there.  I’ve gone on to take part in other productions and know that this is what I want to do.”

Chris Lee, from Wildbird who directed Sleeper, the Creative Identities film project, The Sleeper, said;

‘It’s great to see Charlene’s progress from being involved in the Stairwells project to the work Wildbird do with Moray Council's Kutting Edge Youth Theatre. As one of the older members, Charlene's all round contribution is invaluable, and she's always fantastic when it comes to supporting some of the younger less confident members, and helping them to overcome any problems or insecurities they have. She's a very talented and very pleasant young woman and has a lot of potential to go on to bigger things in the future.’

Ms Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, said;

‘There can be no doubt the Creative Identities programme has made a positive impact on Charlene’s life. That is what CashBack for Creativity is all about - recycling the proceeds of crime into arts and cultural activities which make a tangible difference to individuals and communities across Scotland.

‘By offering Scotland’s young people the opportunity to broaden their horizons, improve their confidence and learn creative skills essential for success, we are sending the clear message that there are real alternatives to crime and anti-social behaviour.’

Iain Munro, Director of Creative Development, Creative Scotland, said;

‘It’s wonderful to see Charlene’s progression from the Creative Identities pilot programme and the impact it has made on her life, we hope that the next phase of investment will ignite a passion for the arts in thousands more youngsters like Charlene.  This programme will allow us to reach and make a real difference to the lives of young people that may not otherwise have taken part in cultural activities.

‘This programme will create valuable learning experiences that will support and develop young people’s confidence, self esteem and communication skills and create a positive impact on the rest of their lives.’

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