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23 July 2014

Arts showcase final offers hope to unemployed

Arts showcase final offers hope to unemployed

Youth charity and Alliance member XLP held their arts showcase grand final at the beginning of this month - their biggest event of the year. The winner was Kimarne Henry.

The arts showcase aims to offer hope to young people in the face of the prevailing culture of youth unemployment, which says that there is no hope for employment and a brighter future. It is a key tool for XLP to work with young people to build their confidence and aspirations and to build a bright future with realistic prospects of employment.

Held at the Mermaid Theatre in London the final was a year's worth of local arts showcase competitions in different schools and boroughs across London. The performers have spent months honing their talents and learning how to make the most of opportunities.

The arts projects have proved to be a powerful tool to equip young people with the confidence to take future employment opportunities as well as provide an opportunity to showcase their talent to their friends and family, often for the first time.

853,000 young people across the country are currently unable to find a job. The situation appears even worse for many in London's inner-city. Last year 44 per cent of the economically active population aged 16-19 in London were unemployed according to a recent Work Foundation report 'A Tale of Two Cities', and from the experiences of XLP these figures do not seem to have improved significantly since.

Patrick Regan OBE, CEO and founder of XLP, said: "There are many factors that lead to young people dropping out of education and struggling to find a job: persistent poverty, a disruptive family situation, negative influences in the area –and all of these lead to the message that there can be no hope of a brighter future and it is foolish to think you can make anything of your life."

Wizdom, XLP arts director, said: "What we want to do is empower young people to let them know that they are good at something. If someone can support you and nurture you in that, then you're able to fly."

Pearl Fish, now 16 years old, recalls entering the initial auditions at Kingsdale Foundation School in Southwark. "I had never really sung in front of people up until this point. I was an incredibly shy person and I ended up crying half way through due to nerves."

It did not end there though as XLP saw the potential in her and sent her through the Southwark Arts Showcase, "I couldn't believe it. It was such an encouragement to me that they believed in me. It boosted my confidence immensely."

Since then, through XLP's opportunity training and artist development workshops, Pearl has performed for the artists at the Brit Awards. She is currently recording her own EP and recently sang accompanied by Voces8, whose recent album topped the UK classical charts.

"I used to believe that it was better to not bother trying so that I did not fail. But now I'm much more willing to give things a go rather than worrying about how things could go wrong. If it wasn't for XLP I think I would have been way less focused and wouldn't really know what I wanted to do with my life and who knows where I'd be or what I'd have missed out on. XLP accepts you for who you are and helps you find a way to reach your potential, take the opportunities when they come your way and dream bigger dreams."