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#HopeDefiantly launches with celebrity breakthrough tales

Five famous friends of Arts Emergency have shared stories of the lifelines they had early in their careers - and the ones they wish they had - and reflected on the new struggles young people are facing today

Comedian Nish Kumar, writer Yomi Adegoke, artist Mark Leckey, poet Raymond Antrobus and musician Jungleboi have joined our #HopeDefiantly campaign - challenging everyone who cares about the future of the arts and humanities to do what they can to support creative young people.

Two years into a global pandemic and over a decade since punishing austerity measures were imposed on this country, we find the state of the arts and humanities extremely perilous for young people. In spite of spiralling precarity, social and economic exclusion, and a raft of policies actively designed to limit access to higher education in the arts, recent research shows that 89% of Gen Z consider themselves creative.

While other help might be scaling down, Arts Emergency are jumping up to support young people where they need it. But we urgently need your help to offer our 1,300+ strong young community across the UK a practical lifeline. Donating £50 or whatever you can afford, will help fund the additional creation of at least 80 networking opportunities, 45 work experience placements, 6 industry insights workshops, bespoke careers advice and more in 2022.

As our longtime supporter and Bursar Club member Nish Kumar puts it in his video - “Arts Emergency is more important now than maybe it's ever been. Because there's no reason why arts or culture should be the preserve of the wealthiest. Absolutely no reason for it at all. But it will become a playground for wealthy people's kids and nothing more if we allow the status quo to continue and get worse, as it has done for the last 10-15 years.”

Read on to watch the films and join us to ensure that, in defiance of those determined to keep the cultural sector homogenous and privileged, young people can have hope.

“We thought at the time, you know, in the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis that we were having a difficult time of it. But things have just got worse and worse.”
- Nish Kumar

“There's a real push, to go into subjects that are slightly more financially stable than the arts can be and seeing my sister be able to kind of make it in journalism definitely inspired me to take it seriously…I don't think it would have been as easy with her influence.”
- Yomi Adegoke

“I think now, coming from the background I did, trying to go to art school would seem a momentous task. And a huge financial undertaking.”
- Mark Leckey

“If I was 16 years old now…I think my barriers would be very different. I went to a deaf school. Since I was at school, a lot of the a lot of deaf schools have closed or they've cut them in half. I got so much support, which is actually not there anymore.”
- Raymond Antrobus

“I knew absolutely no one at all. That just seemed to stop me from being able to get my career further. I had to start right at the bottom literally.”
- Jungleboi

For young people coming of age right now it can seem impossible to build a life, particularly a creative one, amidst all of these challenges. The young artists that Arts Emergency works with have the potential to be the journalists, politicians and academics of the future. It’s at times like this when the prospects for change seem most bleak that we must take action. The only way that we can combat despair is by hoping radically, and planting seeds today to make sure that there are flowers tomorrow.