Young People's Work

Award-winning charity

Established in 1986, Soft Touch Arts (STA) is an award-winning Leicestershire charity. They use arts, media, and music activities to make positive life changes for disadvantaged young people by supporting them to develop creative, social and employability skills.

In January 2022, Soft Touch Arts were awarded funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to carry out an exciting intergenerational heritage learning project about the national and local punk scenes, in partnership with design agency, Arch Creative, and social historian and author, Shaun Knapp.

The project is protecting heritage at risk by collecting interviews, memories and loan items from local Leicester punks and key protagonists of the national scene.  Young people involved with STA are at the heart of the curation team, working alongside Arch Creative and Shaun Knapp to learn about the punk youth subculture and sharing their ideas to help shape the design for the exhibition. STA also offered three paid curation and film production internships for young people supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and De Montfort University and linked with University of Leicester to offer student placements and volunteering.

“What excites me the most about the exhibition is the conversations that have taken place between the generations. Hopefully we’ve created an environment where people feel that they can talk to each other…”

Rosie Ann Boxall, Soft Touch Arts

Exploring punk today

From September 2022, Soft Touch Arts has challenged around 250 young people from across the city to present their ideas on what punk means now. To explore the parallel social and political themes such as Rock Against Racism/Black Lives Matter, 70s Recession/Current Cost of Living Crisis, Feminism and the Me-Too Movement, LGBTQ+ rights and activism, as well as new social and political challenges such as the environmental crisis.

Soft Touch Creative Work with Young People

Over a period of 12 months Soft Touch set up various creative projects and worked with schools, universities and partners in the community to engage young people to give them the opportunity to learn about the legacy of Punk and make art, music, fashion and more.

Young Curators Group

The Young Curators’ Group were involved in the project from the earliest stages. They researched life in the 70s and the punk subculture of the time, made punk inspired creations and overall contributed a huge amount of ideas to the curation team ideas for the exhibition.

Their work and ideas were on display at both Leicester Museum and Art Gallery and Soft Touch Arts. Visitors had the chance to take a photo as part of a punk band using the picture boards designed and painted by them as well as zines, t-shirts and badges; all featured within the Punk: Rage and Revolution Extended Content Exhibition at Soft touch Arts!

Sustainable fashion Group

Between November 2022 and February 2023, seven young people came together and created garments inspires by the punk DIY ethos. Their challenge was to create new clothing from unwanted items, demonstrating that fashion can look great and be sustainable. They experimented with a number of techniques such as deconstructing and reconstructing donated clothing items, screen printing, hand printing and embellishing, crochet and stitching. Their complete creations were visible within both Leicester Museum and Art Gallery and Soft Touch Arts.

Punks Bands

Two punk bands were formed during the project, Spapnia (@spapnia on Instagram) and Twitchy Roadkill (https://youtu.be/n6klOkq-XhE). Practicing for 5-7 months, they worked hard on building a set list of punk inspired covers as well as creating their own original punk songs. With many of them experimenting and learning new instruments for the first time!

Their debut performances were at our opening weekend in May, and they have since continued to develop their bands, with Spapnia especially forming into a new official Leicester Punk band. Be sure to keep an eye out for announcements on future performances from both bands!

Soft Touch Arts have also delivered a series of creative projects in partnership with the following schools:

New College hairdressing group

Year 10 and 11 Hairdressing students from Leicester’s New College spent time after school exploring original punk hair techniques and experimenting with products that were available in the 70s, in order to create their very own modern, punk influenced, hair designs. These were displayed in both Leicester Museum and Art Gallery and Soft Touch Arts.

Wyggeston & Queen Elizabeth College

WQE Graphics students created fanzines and album covers, drawing inspiration from original similar punk memorabilia and using new techniques. Their finished work was on display to see at Soft Touch Arts within our Punk: Rage and Revolution Extended Exhibition.

De Montfort University

Arts Design & Humanities department

Their finished creations were on display within our Punk: Rage and Revolution Reimagined exhibition at LCB Depot from 3rd – 18th August. Different BA and MA courses in the Arts Design and Humanities and Computer Science and Informatics departments responded to an activism in design brief set by course leaders, taking inspiration from the Punk movement. During the same week the Punk Rage & Revolution Exhibition opened, selected works from the Arts, Design and Humanities students, were shown for a week at The Gallery at De Montfort University. The exhibition was titled Activision.

Curve Theatre - Young Community Company

Curve dancers watched interviews and met with punks of the time to provide inspiration for dance routines they practiced and performed at the exhibitions opening weekend. They also performed the dances at the Curve Young Company end of year show.