Police take on first ever artist-in-residence to tackle youth violence in new City of Culture project - The Coventry Observer

17th Aug, 2022

Police take on first ever artist-in-residence to tackle youth violence in new City of Culture project

ACCLAIMED filmmaker, poet and playwright Kay Rufai has been signed up as the force’s first ever artist-in-residence to tackle youth violence in Coventry, police have revealed.

The 37-year-old British-born Nigerian – creator of the Smile-ing Boys project in South London – will explore the role that arts and culture can play in breaking down barriers between officers and younger members of the city’s communities.

As part of the new Barriers to Bridges project – funded by the Coventry City of Culture Trust and the PCC – he will split his time between young people in Coventry, who have been in contact with the police, and officers in a bid to find real solutions to youth violence in the city.

This will involve running 10 workshops for young people and conducting 10 days of in-house research with the police, observing day-to-day policing and interviewing officers in different roles.

A presentation summing up his experience will be showcased at the CVX Festival co-produced by Coventry rapper JAY1 taking place from August 12- 15.

Kay said: “I’ve delivered residencies with various communities before, from young people in gangs to undocumented young people navigating their livelihoods across the San Diego and Tijuana border, to refugees and formerly incarcerated people. I’ve never worked closely with the police like this before so the prospect excites me.

“I’m someone who loves to embark on challenges to improve my growth, both personally and professionally. When I came across this opportunity to take on a creative residency and work with young people it stood out as a perfect opportunity to learn more about the structures and practices that already exist and use my creative skillsets to bring about care-based approaches to policing.

“I’m looking forward to getting the opportunity to learn – from both the young people but also through engagement with the varied team within WMP. I’m also looking forward to co-creating some artistic outputs as a result of my residency.”

Chief Inspector Helen Kirkman, Coventry 2021 City of Culture policing lead, said: “This is a really exciting opportunity for us to build bridges with young people in Coventry by getting them involved in art and culture.

“We want them to be able to trust us and engage with us and we’re really looking forward to seeing what Kay comes up with.

“It’s an exciting venture and wouldn’t be possible without funding from the City of Culture Trust and the PCC so we’re really thankful for their belief in the initiative.”

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