Risky Business: Young People, Collaboration and Arts Engagement

By:
Assoc. Prof. Angela O'Brien,
Dr. Kate Donelan
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This paper reports on Risky Business, a three-year Australian Research Council funded study with Industry Partners from the Departments of Justice, Human Services, VicHealth and Arts Victoria. The Risky Business research project (2002-2005) investigated the effectiveness of creative arts involvement as a diversionary intervention for young people at risk. Over the three years of the project ten arts programs were conducted across urban and rural Victoria in association with various organisations, including youth support and custodial centres.

This paper provides an overview of the project, an outline of the ten arts programs and a discussion of research findings. It argues that arts programs can have a significant positive impact on marginalised young people, offering opportunities for skill development and social inclusion. However the Risky Business study indicates that arts work with marginalised young people can be challenging and engagement can be hard to elicit and sustain. ‘At risk’ young people require multi-skilled artists with a high level of pedagogical expertise as well as the capacity to address complex individual needs. This research indicates that an holistic and integrated approach to arts programs within a supportive institutional, artistic and interpersonal context is essential for optimum outcomes.


Keywords: Young People, Risk, Community Arts, Arts Education
Stream: Art in Communities, Arts Education, Art and Human Rights
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Risky Business


Assoc. Prof. Angela O'Brien

Research and Graduate Studies Coordinator, Creative Arts, University of Melbourne
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Associate Professor Angela O’Brien was foundation Head of the School of Creative Arts at the University of Melbourne from 1995 - 2004. Prior to that she was Deputy Head of Visual and Performing Arts Education at Melbourne. She currently coordinates research and graduate studies in Creative Arts and chairs the University’s Theatre Board. Her research is in Australian theatre history and the impact of the arts. She has recently completed a three year study of the impact of arts engagement on young people "at risk". She is currently involved in investigating an arts led approach to curriculum renewal in an marginalised and ethnically diverse inner urban school. Her doctoral thesis (1990) investigated the left-wing New Theatre movement in Australia. Other theatre history research includes an ongoing theatre database project on student theare at the University of Melbourne (http://www.must.unimelb.edu.au/). She is also a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Victoria

Dr. Kate Donelan

Faculty of Education, University of Melbourne
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Dr Kate Donelan is a senior arts educator who has held key management positions in the Faculty of Education, University of Melbourne, including Deputy Head of Language, Literacy and Arts Education. For the past fifteen years she has held leadership positions in peak arts education organizations in Australia and internationally; these include Vice-President of the International Drama/Theatre and Education Association (IDEA) and President of the National Association of Drama in Education. She is currently holds key positions on the Victorian Board of Studies and the State-wide governance body for independent schools. Her doctoral work broke new ground in its application of ethnography to arts education research. She has recently completed a qualitative three year study on the impact of arts engagement on young people "at risk". She is currently involved in investigating an arts led approach to curriculum renewal in an marginalised and ethnically diverse inner urban school.

Ref: A06P0389