Innovation and Inclusion for a Youthful City

Posted 31 May

Kristin Alford

Did you know there are almost 7,500 people under the age of 25 who lives in the City of Adelaide? Or that there are more than 95,000 annual visits by young people to the Art Gallery of South Australia and the South Australian Museum a year?

What do young people want from their city?

In late 2018, Helen Connolly, the South Australian Commissioner for Children and Young People, met with 130 young people aged 12-22 to ask them what makes Adelaide a youthful place, and how we can make it better.

The Youthful Cities report was released on the 10th of April and shows that young people want their places to be connected, creative, and confident. As a place designed for and with 15-25 year olds we should make sure we are aligning with what young people want. It was affirming to see some of our ways of working reflected in the Youthful Cities report.

So, what do young people want out of Adelaide? And are we achieving our mission?

Young people sitting in a museum exhibit talking and laughing
Photograph: Rosina Possingham

Young people want dedicated spaces that support their need to connect, build relationships, participate in the community, and have positive experiences.

MOD. is free and open to the public six days a week. We create spaces for conversation, as well as for enjoying the exhibitions and attending our schedule of programming. We are a place to be and be inspired.

Young people want spaces that are well planned, have open borders, allow connections, virtually and physically, are open, inclusive, public and welcoming.

People can come in and enjoy our spaces indoors or our terrace overlooking the train lines. Virtually, MOD. has an active social media presence. Our website also provides visitors that want to delve deeper with greater context. One of our key design principles is to be accessible and inclusive. We try to design experiences that people can enjoy with a range of abilities. We also work hard at using language that is inclusive and appropriate.

Young people standing in a gallery playing on an iPad
Photograph: Daniel Marks

Young people want relationships founded on acceptance, fairness, inclusion, respect, and trust.

We provide student work experiences and internships where they form part of a study curriculum. And we pay for young people to contribute work. We’ve had design students like Lucas Shaw develop the game Peace Out alongside students from Trinity College, and Michelle Magias design exhibits like the Department of Welcome. We’ve published student work in Brand Peace and paid for students designs which have become our exhibition merchandise. This is one way in which fairness, respect and trust can be honoured. We have continued to put out call outs to students to fill our galleries in HEDONISM with the Experience Machines and in Pleasure Arcade 5000.

Young people want to live in a place that recognises fresh ideas, perspectives, enthusiasm skills and value they bring to the table.

We engage young people in advisory groups, in the testing of exhibits, and in the creation of exhibit elements. For example our launch Youth Advisory Board provided advice on wayfinding and the exhibition MOD.IFY. In WAGING PEACE, young people were featured in the exhibition through designing Peace Machines in schools, and Brand Peace campaigns at university. Youth Inc on Hindley Street came through to provide feedback on exhibits before we opened. With HEDONISM, we have tested ideas with high school students across Adelaide at all stages of exhibition development. We are looking forward to hearing their thoughts as they are the first visitors in our user testing.

Young people laughing in a chair, one has stacked pillows on top of the other
Photograph: Rosina Possingham

Young people say that want creative arts to be more valued, more accessible, and seen for their value.

Our aim is to provoke new ideas at the intersection of science, arts and innovation. Science and technology are important underpinning skills for many disciplines in a digital and wired future. We need to remember that they are not the only ones. By showcasing research through experiences, we demonstrate the value of the arts as part of skills needed for the future.

We want MOD. to meet the needs of young people in the City of Adelaide and beyond. By listening to what they want, and matching our strategies and actions, we are able to contribute to a city that provides connection and creativity with confidence.

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