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In its twenty years of using creativity to give hope to youths, Art-Alive, founded by artist, Lanre Olagoke, has reasons to celebrate.

As a registered charity, in the UK since 2001, Art-Alive has worked with over five thousand youths within and outside the country. Part of the 20 years of youth empowerment celebration was an art exhibition in a retrospective showcase of the works done in schools, prisons, homes, approved premises (with young offenders), at Centrepoint (homeless charity) and Soho Arts Fair, among others.

The exhibition held from 8-9 October 2021 at Bvlgari Hotel London, also had some of Olagoke’s paintings on display. “The artists’ works reflect the theme on a micro level, whereas the curatorial aspects weave a narrative that contextualises these outcomes in relation to the Era of Reclamation,” Olagoke stated. “The Era of Reclamation” commenced in 2020 at the height of the pandemic.

“The global response to COVID-19 has given us all a chance to go inwards and connect with our authenticity,” said youths participants.  “The youth are exploring how this authenticity can be represented through various artistic forms.”

While others are reclaiming their heritage, reclaiming materials, or simply their time and energy through the disruption of the old daily routine, “as the next working generation, this is giving us the agency to create new and more balanced systems of working, living, and creating. Most importantly reclaiming one’s mental ability to see again, dream again and be one whose serves his or her purpose to its fullest.”

On the activities in 2021, there are over 25 young members who are a part of the Art-Alive AIR (Artist In Residence) Project. The initiative was first launched when Olagoke first met with Matt Hancock in 2019, before the Pandemic.

According to the statement, “The focus was the Arts and Mental Health Issues. It was established that Art has the power to heal and transform lives. Lanre then met with the British Museum and former trustee, Bonnie Greer OBE and the Director of The British Museum, Hartwig Fischer, to discuss the Era of Reclamation, who then invited Lanre to the British Museum with 5 Young film makers from Art- Alive to look at the Benin Bronze, which was aired on BBC. Questioning, “how do we claim what is ours or rightfully one’s self back.?”

Lanre Olagoke then started to look at this differently. It is not so much about Benin Bronzes, but now it is about self-awareness, about one’s mental health and wellbeing, and how this is affecting our youth and the world we are living in today.

And then came the twist, “Era of Reclamation”, a timely concept during the pandemic and how this time is affecting our youth’s mental health. So, we decided that the New Initiative would be for them to reclaim themselves back, during this Era/Time, to think of what it means to reclaim.

Why are they reclaiming, and for whom? They have been finding a sense of self and purpose in the last six months by being creative; using the medium of fashion, art, music, dance, poetry and sculpture. No segments are conclusive, it is an ongoing process of awareness, self-reclamation, through this process they are growing and developing artistically and personally.”

“We want to thank you for your partnership, support and in helping us achieve such tremendous goals over the past two decades., none of this would have been possible without your generous donation of several workspaces you have allowed us to use to continue the vision of Art-Alive and our youths in 4 Kingly Street. We would like you to consider us continuing our good work with the youth on both floors of 4 Kingly Street. Additionally, Art-Alive has the potential to expand and engage a larger group of young people.

“We have a great legacy and proven track record thus far. We ask that you consider assistance with a direction in which we can meet the following; help with allocating a venue, ideally on Carnaby Street for the 20year anniversary celebrations. Core Running Cost of Art-Alive Salary for three additional staff members High-Level Marketing and Publicity. With your help, we can maximise to our full potential.”

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