Festival Cities exhibition on show at The Forum in Norwich

From youngsters lined up with their saxophones to a concert in an historic Norwich church - photographs by young people living in the YMCA have been on show in The Forum this week.

The Festival Cities exhibition is the culmination of a three-month project where participants explored Norwich's cultural and architectural heritage as well as visiting the Norfolk and Norwich Festival.

One of the people taking part was Simon Devine who is living in the YMCA after he lost jobs in the catering industry.

One of his photographs sold for �25 and the money will go towards YMCA projects.

The 24-year-old said: 'I have really enjoyed it. It has really blown out of proportion from when we first started. Somebody said there was a photographic course so I signed up and now we've got a full blown exhibition. It is really exciting being in The Forum. It was great fun to take pictures.'

He said that he was now hoping to find a job in photography.

'Photography is quite hard, but I've given it my best shot. This is brilliant. It's quite surreal being in The Forum.'

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He is now hoping to volunteer at other Culture Works workshops including at the Jelly Festival.

Elli Chapman, director of Culture Works East, said that people on the course had gone on to find jobs or would continue with volunteering.

She said the professional photographers who had been on the course had said that they wished they had taken some of the pictures that the participants from the YMCA had captured.

'These people have quite chaotic lives. This is a really good example of a way of using art for engaging.'

She said that many of the people taking part had not been to the Norfolk and Norwich Festival before.

Each week of the project the people taking park have been doing workshops with Culture Works East and professional photographers, broadcast journalists, historians, international performers and sound designers.

It gave them hands-on experience of using professional industry-standard equipment, provided them with the skills to design, create and exhibit a digital media exhibition.

All the course participants have had the opportunity to gain a Level 1 or 2 Arts Award as part of the project which is a nationally recognised qualification.

• Have you taken part in an art project? Contact reporter Annabelle Dickson on 01603 772426.

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