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Arts in Action Youth Forum
Inspiring Action > Youth Initiatives > Arts in Action Youth Forum

The Arts in Action Forum arose when Philia's Youth Strategy was coupled with the NFB's Challenge for Change, a renewed mandate to create media-based initiatives that serve community. What started as a simple collaboration between two organizations took on a life of its own when young people from diverse communities - including youth with physical and intellectual disabilities - were empowered to provide guidance for the project. Instead of simply posting a call for short-film ideas that would eventually be produced by the NFB, they reconceived the Forum to meet at least three goals:

  1. To bring together young people to share their uniqueness, their gifts and their perspectives;
  2. To give youth a voice in how the NFB would include and empower young people in the future;
  3. To provide the venue for a selection process based on collaboration and mutuality rather than competition.

The day of March 27, 2021 was filled with excitement, ideas and creativity. Some eighty extremely diverse young people were joined by sixteen artists, twenty volunteers and the nine organizers. Each workshop had its own feel, pace and dynamic that enriched the Forum with another level of diversity. Workshops included photography, video, theatre, book- and play-writing, comic booking, graffiti, radio, rap, punk music, spoken word, and painting - all on the theme of inclusion, and all enormously powerful. At the end of the day the artworks created were presented to the entire assembly, along with some guests from the NFB, the Vancouver School Board, and the wider arts community.

The participants squeezed, twisted around and wrestled with the theme of inclusion, as can be seen in "Socialize This!", a song composed in the punk music workshop by the band "Character Assassination":

To keep from being admitted,
Included or considered
I reject
And found a new connect
I am now a citizen of my own society
A society of one
Dependent on none
Excluded once again
So I reject
And find a new connect

Following the Forum, the NFB sent 21 young people, brilliant with gifts, abilities and disabilities, to a one-week live-in filmmaking school on Galiano Island. Sixteen short films were produced and presented to the public, along with other pieces of art from the Forum, during Youth Week in May. They can be viewed at
The Arts In Action Forum took place for a second time over the weekend of May 7-8, 2005. That weekend saw over 45 young people aged 10 to 25 engage with young yet established artists to explore the theme Democracy: Our Second Choice. This theme was chosen by the youth as one that was crucial for young people to talk about, but in a way that makes sense and is interesting - even "sexy" -  for them.

Workshops this year included painting, spoken word, percussion/beat boxing, zine-making, comic-booking, digital animation, performance theatre, and script-writing. The presentation at the end of the two days was extraordinary and inspiring for both audience and participants alike.

Since that weekend we have received words of appreciation for creating an opportunity for young people, including those with disabilities, to engage with each other and with the arts. For example, the nine members of the Burnaby Association For Community Inclusion's Teen Program who participated described the program as being a "powerful experience" for them.

Click here to see the poster for this year's Arts in Action forum, or here for last year's poster.

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