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Being a Boy

Being a Boy

At AUB, we believe that opportunities to engage with creative subjects and explore new art forms should be available to everyone. We also recognise the power of creativity as a tool to engage in conversations about important issues that affect our lives.

The Being a Boy project, launched in 2022, is a brand-new initiative which provides space for young men to creatively engage with the role of masculinity in their day-to-day lives.

The project has received recognition in the sector as an example of best practice. Winning the HELOA (Higher Education Liaison Officers Association) Best Practice Outreach and Recruitment Award, and HELOA Best Practice Collaboration Award in January 2023. Read more about the HELOA Award wins. Being a Boy was also a Silver Award Winner for Best Widening Participation Initiative at the 2023 HEIST Awards. Read more about AUB’s HEIST Award wins in July 2023.

The Being a Boy project

The Being a Boy project provides a number of fully funded places on selected workshops that explore the themes of masculinity and identity. They provide a creative channel for participants to reflect on what being a young man means and their own lived experiences. The workshops are an innovative mechanism to conduct an exploration of the possible implications for boys’ future health, happiness and educational success.

Please see our participant eligibility criteria on the next tab and further details of the 2024 workshop series below.

The Being a Boy workshop places are available to young people living permanently in England. To be eligible for participation in one or more of the workshops, attendees must be studying in either KS3 or KS4 (aged 12-16) and identify as boys.

Participants must also meet at least one of the following eligibility criteria:

  • Received Free School Meals at any point during your school studies
  • Been in local authority care or looked after for three months or more OR are estranged from your family
  • Are a Young Carer
  • From a Gypsy, Roma, Traveller, Showman, or Boater community
  • Have a parent who has served, or is currently serving, in the armed forces
  • Are currently studying at an Alternative Provision
  • Current home postcode shows that you live in an area with low levels of progression to Higher Education falling within POLAR4 quintiles 1 and 2.
  • Current home postcode shows that you live in an area that falls within the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) 1 and 2.

Eligibility for the POLAR4 measure can be checked here and eligibility for the IMD measure can be checked here.

Being a Boy videos

You can now watch:

  • Character documentary, following participants in the 2023 Character workshop explore acting processes.
  • How to Be a Boy, documentary to see participants of the 2022 Empower workshop creative writing successes.
  • Beneath the Surface, a participant's continued exploration of dance after taking part in the 2022 Lift Off workshop.

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2024 Workshop series

Identity – Wednesday 15 May 2024, 09.30–14.30

Fashion Branding and Communication workshop exploring ideas of masculinity and gender stereotyping in styling.

Fashion is a journey of self-discovery that can only really be defined by the collector. As one fashion insider said, “That’s fashion to me. Collecting beautiful little pieces of yourself over time.”

Identity will introduce participants to new ways of seeing, reflection on their own tastes, and new recipes for self-expression.

Previous experience isn't necessary. Lunch and workshop materials provided. Participants will leave the workshop having experimented with styling and art direction of their personal visual language.

Character – Tuesday 11 and Wednesday 12 June 2024, 09.30–14.30 on both days

A two-day Acting workshop at AUB’s Palace Court Theatre, providing space for a creative exploration of challenges facing young men.

This workshop will be an opportunity for young men to connect and to reflect on what’s important to them, as they look back at what boyhood meant to them and ahead to being a man. Through a creative group work process and the development of short piece of forum theatre, they'll share their own experiences and perspectives on masculinity, to surface some of the challenges and opportunities that young men today are facing.

The workshop will be delivered by Dan Boyden, an experienced theatre maker and social development expert who's worked in a variety of criminal justice and community settings throughout the UK, working with men to explore new and alternative ways of ‘being a man’. For two decades, Dan's worked globally with organisations using arts and creativity as tools for personal, social and structural change. He currently works with the British Council as a lead consultant designing their new global youth programme, and is co-director of international arts collective, AWE.

Previous experience of acting isn't necessary. Lunch and workshop materials provided.

Participants will leave the workshop having co-created a collaborative performance, with an opportunity to perform in front of a small and friendly audience.

Empower – 15 June 2024, 10.00–15.00

Closed event for young people working with the charity MYTIME Young Carers.

Lift Off – Thursday 20 and Friday 21 June 2024, 09.30–14.30 both days

Closed event for young people studying at Ferndown Upper School that are participating in the FUS Are Serious About Boys mentoring scheme.

Capture – Wednesday 3 July 2024, 09.30–14.30

Photography workshop in the Commercial Photography studios creating a series of images exploring what it means to be a boy.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is it you want to say? In this workshop, participants will engage with an art form that encourages experimentation, open-mindedness, and a risk-taking approach to creativity. Photography is a creative tool that celebrates pushing boundaries and provides individuals with a new platform to tell their stories.

Previous experience of photography isn't necessary. Lunch and workshop materials provided.
Participants will leave with a memory stick of photographs and printed images.

Transform – Tuesday 9 July 2024, 09.30–14.30

Brand-new for 2024 Transform will provide you with an insight into the professional, creative, and realistic world of special effects make-up. Through a series of demonstrations and practical applications, you'll be given the opportunities to engage and create small casualty stimulations.

In this workshop you'll be able to experiment with different make-up techniques and materials, learning a variety of injuries such as bruising, wounds and cuts, producing a realistic casualty specific scene for the make-up industry.

This workshop will introduce participants to the face as a canvas.

Previous experience with make-up is not necessary. Lunch and workshop materials provided. Participants will leave having explored using make-up techniques and photographs of their designs.

Freestyle – Tuesday 16 July 2024, 09.30–14.30

Illustration workshop creating skateboard deck designs, using collage, drawing and digital transformation, to explore the Being a Boy themes.

This workshop will introduce participants to the skateboard as a canvas for exciting graphic statements. The skateboard deck is a unique space that integrates illustration with movement and risk.

Participants will look back at the history of this object and also look forward to ways in which deck art can still surprise and delight.

Previous experience is not necessary. Lunch and workshop materials provided.
Participants will leave with a collection of illustrated designs.

Photos from the Being a Boy workshops

Previous workshops and events

Read through our previous workshops and events to get a feel for what we've been up to.

In celebration of the Being a Boy 2023 workshop series participants, the Being a Boy Character Documentary premiered at Pavilion Dance South West, following the young men as they participated in the Character 2023 acting workshop.

The event also celebrated the successes and experiences of the young men that participated in the Empower, Identity, Capture, Lift Off and Freestyle 2023 workshops.

This workshop introduced participants to the skateboard as a canvas for exciting graphic statements, integrating illustration with movement and risk.

Back for a second year, focusing on key elements of contemporary dance: physicality, strength, trust and working collaboratively to create adaptable artists.

Back for a second year, participants explored photography as a new platform to tell their stories.

Based at AUB’s Palace Court Theatre, this workshop led by Dan Boyden, an experienced theatre maker and social development expert who's worked in a variety of criminal justice and community settings throughout the UK, working with men to explore new and alternative ways of ‘being a man’.

A Fashion Branding and Communication workshop introducing participants to new ways of seeing, reflection on their own tastes, and new recipes for self-expression.

Back for a second year, author Ashley Hickson-Lovence returned to guide participants through an exploration of written and spoken word.

In celebration of Being a Boy 2022 workshop participants, the How to be a Boy documentary premiered at Pavilion Dance South West, following the young men as they participated in the Empower 2022 creative writing workshop.

Also celebrated at the event was successes and experiences the boys that participated in the Capture and Lift Off workshops including poetry readings and showing of Beneath the Surface.

Hosted in partnership with University of Portsmouth and University of Winchester, the widening participation research and practice conference explored how we can better support working-class boys’ educational attainment and progression to Higher Education.

The one-day conference at AUB, brought together practitioners and researchers from 55 institutions and provided a space to disseminate research and learn from evidence-based practice. The conference included esteemed speakers Professor Nicola Ingram, Taking Boys Seriously, and Future Men.

Participants explored a range of different themes working towards creating a final piece that explores the challenges of Being a Boy in the post-pandemic world.

This workshop had a strong focus on key elements of contemporary dance: physicality, strength, trust and working collaboratively to create adaptable artists.

BBC Radio Solent covered the Being a Boy Lift Off Workshop, which included interviews with two of the participants.

Working in the Commercial Photography studios participants created a series of photographs, exploring past, present and future selves.

Claire Barnett, art and photography teacher at The Quay School said, “Ideas were ignited, and quality work was produced as a result of purposeful and thought-provoking activities.”

Led by experienced facilitator and author of the 392 and Your Show, Ashley Hickson-Lovence. The workshop explored what it means to be a boy, through confident, bold and thought-provoking written and spoken poetry and lyrics.

Irene Smith, CIAG Lead at Iford Academy said, “What an amazing day when confidence was grown in abundance!"

This three-hour workshop looked at methods and storytelling devices involved in the development of documentary projects, including the How to Be a Boy Documentary. The exploration encouraged the group to explore distinctive voices in the making of documentaries, which are shaped by our own personal experiences but that can also reflect the forces that shape the world we live in.

Explore more

Overview

We know that inspiring your students, whatever their ambition, is at the heart of what we do in creative education.

Illustration work displayed in the Drawing Studio at AUB. The work is surrounded by plants and lit but a large oval glass window

On-campus activities

We run a range of on-campus activities so that your students can experience life at an arts university first-hand.

Student talking to a member of AUB Staff at a UCAS Event

In-school activities

Our in-school activities have been designed to support your students in discovering more about Higher Education and creative pathways

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Lesson resources

We have a range of learning resources at AUB that can support your teaching either in the classroom or online.

Illustration of two women, one taking a picture and another lifting a red cap of her head

Helping your students apply

We appreciate that navigating the process of applying to university can be a daunting time for students – we're here to help.

All Access AUB Students cutting up images in the AUB studios and smiling

Widening access to AUB

Those with the potential to benefit from higher education, deserve the opportunity to do so. At AUB, we’re committed to making that happen.

Students in the AUB print room holding tools with paint and screens around them.

Global Schools

AUB offers workshops, talks and presentations to global schools. Get in touch with our team to find out more

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Dorset Boys' Impact Hub

The Dorset branch of Boys' Impact is the first in a series of regional networks with the aim of closing the gap in GCSE outcomes for boys.