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Cashback to The Future - an interview with the Sketchy Youth’s Kyle

This blog consists of extracts from an interview conducted by Rosa Hackett (trustee of Impact Arts) with Sketchy Youth member Kyle Cleary in September 2020. Kyle discusses his experiences of the Cashback to The Future programme over the years, and how online delivery has changed things in the wake of the Coronavirus lockdown.

“I would describe Cashback to the Future as fun and rewarding. Fun because you’re learning all of these skills and new techniques to do more art stuff, and it’s rewarding because you’re meeting new people, making new friends and as I said you’re rewarded by the skills you get.

The summer programme is four weeks, and you do it a few days a week and have the rest of the week off. You repeat that till the four weeks are done and then you have the big showcase. The showcase is all the Cashback groups from the different areas all joining in and showcasing their work all at once.

In terms of how many people are in the group, it depends on the location. The times I’ve been doing it, it was Paisley, Glasgow, Kilmarnock, Irvine and I think Edinburgh, so I think the Kilmarnock one wasn’t as many people because Kilmarnock is quite a small place, but we normally got about six to ten people. I liked the smaller groups because you get more done, and there’s more to do.

A normal day, (pre-coronavirus) you would be going in and you have a warm up in the morning. You’d maybe have a mindfulness or drawing exercise, then you’d go into whatever the subject of the project was about, so say it was about Medieval Times, if you were in the performance group you might write a script. For most of the day you do that, and you have a couple of breaks and lunch.

The online delivery this year was a bit strange at first because I’m not used to doing it online, but as the days and weeks went on I got more comfortable and found it easier because you get more used to it. In a way it’s easier to get to know the other people on the programme in person because you can have a different character online, but as the weeks went on we grew friendships, so it was good. The whole course was on Zoom and there was a Facebook group as a way of communicating. Over the weeks people started adding each other on Facebook so we now have that.

We got up in the morning (hopefully you had your breakfast and that) and then it was onto a Zoom call and we got told what we were going to do that day. We got started and had some chats about what we wanted to do, and then we did some stuff like writing. Then it was lunch break so we went off the call but the tutor was still online if we wanted any help or had questions. Then after a while we got back on the call and discussed what we did over the break, then did a bit more work, and then we’d say goodbye. We got sent an art box filled with paper, a notebook, pens and clay, so we had everything we needed to do the activities.

I’ve done Cashback for the entire run of the programme, so the last four years. I’ve pretty much done performance every year on Cashback because that’s what I’m into. With Kilmarnock we sometimes split up into groups who had different interests. You mostly had just two groups. I remember a couple of years ago I did a comedy rap in the Cathedral. I was a comedy rapper guy and then I did my spoken word poem as that character again but as me at the same time. Then last year it was to do with Scottish heritage, so we made videos for it. We did a documentary series where we walked about Dean castle in Kilmarnock and made a film about monsters and clans.

The online showcase was different. I kind of enjoyed it. I know that there was like 612 people watching it. Online you can reach more audience I guess than an in-person showcase. Our tutor was from Greece and she shared it with her family so we had a Greek showing; we went international. I don’t know about the people who worked on the live stream but from my end I thought the online showcase was less stressful in a way- I just had to record a couple of lines and learn some questions. I was introducing the projects and there was a live Q&A, and I was asking questions. Even though it was online and I wasn’t doing it live in front of people, it was still a bit nerve wracking because of trying to make sure it goes well.

I’d definitely recommend Cashback to other young people. The tutors are really friendly and they really do pick the right tutors for the courses. The themes are good and it works well within your schedule. I’d still recommend it with the online delivery. It’s helped with time passing through the lockdown, and it felt like everything was back to normal in a way. Even though it was from home you’re in contact with people and doing stuff all through the day so it just feels like a normal practical day.

Cashback is for 14-19 year olds. I’m 19 now so this was my last year. I feel old! I feel quite accomplished and I feel grateful that I was able to take part in it. The big thing Cashback has helped me with is confidence and my creative writing. It’s made me realise that I can do this, and that I should go for it and try to achieve what I want to.”

CashBack Hubs are now running after school and on Saturdays for young people aged 14-19 to take part in. You can find out more about CashBack Hubs here.

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