Students from Ron Dearing University Technical College (UTC) are preparing to tell the story of Hull’s award-winning arts festival from a young person’s perspective as they take on the roles of reporters for the five-day event.
The Freedom Festival Arts Trust has teamed up with the employer-led school for a unique two-year partnership to create the Young Reporters Club, which will see three students join the event’s official media team in both 2019 and 2020.
The students who successfully applied following the announcement of the partnership in June will be tasked with producing a broad range of content, using writing, reporting, story-uncovering, blogging, vlogging, and photography skills, and will undergo training during the summer holidays ahead of the festival.
The aim is to provide a platform for the voices of young people in Hull and enable them to tell the Freedom Festival story, exploring key issues such as human rights and equality and diversity, and building on the knowledge they are gaining through Ron Dearing UTC’s creative curriculum.
Shervin Ventura and Deon Wong, who will become Year 13 students at Ron Dearing UTC when the new school term begins in September, applied to join the club, and Rebecca Harman, who is about to become a Year 12 student, also put herself forward for the challenge.
Engineering and Media student Shervin, 17, said: “This is a great chance for me to be able to understand media and experience exactly what it is.
“I’m looking forward to recording the festival through photojournalism, candid social shots and documentary photography, and I want to come away from this understanding more about how the media industry works, as well how content is produced.
“I’ve enjoyed photography as a hobby for the past five years but I never imagined I’d get the chance to do something like this.”
Now in its 12th year, the Freedom festival runs from Wednesday, August 28, to Sunday, September 1 and features world-class street theatre, circus, dance, visual art, music, talks, exhibitions and debates. Last year the festival attracted 132,000 visitors to the city and delivered a £4.3m boost to the local economy.
Ron Dearing UTC is the first and only school to partner with the Freedom Festival Arts Trust in this way and the students’ content is set to be seen by tens of thousands of people.
In addition, the students have to complete journalism, social media and digital photography units as part of their studies and the Young Reporters Club experience will contribute towards those elements of their qualifications.
Creative Digital and Digital Technology student Deon, 16, said: “I’m looking forward to learning new skills during our training and I want to improve how I interact with people, so this will give me the opportunity to do that.
“Using my photography skills, I will be able to capture the emotions from the artists’ facial expressions and try to capture the key moments during their performances.”
Assistant Principal Lynn Garland-Collins and Kate Blowman, Teacher of Art and Creative Media, are leading on the project from Ron Dearing UTC and said the students will be briefed on their tasks each morning during the festival.
Lynn said: “They will be able to capture images from different perspectives and meet and interview many of the artists, so it’s a great networking opportunity too.
“They will also have the opportunity to contribute to a debate on digital democracies, which will look at how Hull will change digitally in the future.
“I’m so proud of all the students who have volunteered. You have to take a risk to move forward and they are all really brave.”
The students underwent a formal interview with Jenny Howard-Coombes, Executive Director and Joint Chief Executive Officer of the Freedom Festival Arts Trust, and her team, before securing the roles.
Jenny said: “We are really excited about having young reporters join our team and begin this new two-year partnership with Ron Dearing UTC.
“I was involved in interviewing the students and I can tell you that Hull’s next generation has such incredible talent. We can’t wait to hear this voice amplified during Freedom Festival.”
[John Meehan – Meehan Media & Comms]