Hear from two of the Forum members, Kate and Isabel, about the BP Portrait Award: Next Generation Young People’s Private View

'For the first time ever the National Portrait Gallery shut its doors on adults and opened exclusively to a teenage crowd. Often galleries and museums around London overlook our age bracket. They have endless activities for toddlers and courses for adults but rarely anything for teenagers. The Gallery’s Young People’s Private View offered after-hours access to the BP Portrait Award 2013 just for us. No teachers, no parents allowed.

The event was hosted by the Gallery’s Youth Forum. We’ve wanted to put on an event of this scale solely for young people for a long time, and thanks to BP we were finally able to make this happen! Tickets (pre-booked but free) were restricted to people between the ages of 14 and 19. With around 100 young people attending, the unique event was really good fun.

We were lucky enough to have as our special guests some of the BP Portrait Award 2013 exhibiting artists, including first prize winner Susanne du Toit and winner of the Travel Award, Carl Randall. They gave inspirational talks and led drawing workshops. The music was provided by father and daughter DJ duo Eddie and Aliyah Otchere and acoustic musician Chloe Leigh Thomas who made it into a party. 

So why is it important to have a young people’s private view? Museums and galleries love little children but they fear the stereotype of the immature, antisocial teenager. The legacy of the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games will continue to inspire a generation of young sportsmen and women, so why shouldn’t art galleries be doing the same with young artists? Perhaps the success of the Private View will encourage other galleries to target more events at young people. We are the gallery visitors, and indeed exhibitors, of tomorrow so if they want to keep their numbers up, they should think about making the galleries attractive to us now.'

This is an extract from a blog post which originally appeared on 29 August 2013 on The Guardian’s Cultural Professionals Network web pages

See the latest Young People’s blog here

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Image credit:
BP Portrait Award: Next Generation Young People’s Private View. Photograph by Othello De’Souza-Hartley © National Portrait Gallery, London