This evening saw another review meeting for the REcreative Yorkshire project I'm working on, as previously mentioned on gear talk the other week. I'm really happy with the brief as well as our plans for the project, which I have no doubt will be a success.
But as we were discussing our arts events today, I started to wonder about how and why such a brief has been predominantly funded by Louis Vuitton. Backing from such an internationally renowned corporation has certainly given our project a lot more credibility, but what interest does an established fashion house have in art for young people in regional Leeds? I was curious to learn more about how the project that I'm currently involved with came to be, so did some research.
The Louis Vuitton Young Arts Project was originally set up in 2010 to celebrate the opening of the New Bond Street Louis Vuitton Maison. Its aim was (and still is) to open up opportunities to young people across the art world, and as a result of the project, REcreative was devised in the same year. As an online platform and community for young people to share their work and events, REcreative is a brilliantly useful website that has certainly informed me a lot over the last few months.
Both the Louis Vuitton Young Arts Project and REcreative have thus far been securely set in the art scene of London, mostly working in partnership with a great list of institutions (Hayward Gallery, South London Gallery, Royal Academy of Arts, Whitechapel, Tate) . However, the REcreative Yorkshire project (which hasn't yet been documented on the REcreative website) acts as an initial outreach by the online platform, as an investigation into how such a project might work in the regional areas of the UK. The reason Leeds has been chosen for the project lies most predominantly in the fact that there is a Louis Vuitton store in the retail heart of the city.
Despite learning a little bit about what I'm involved in, I remain curious as to Louis Vuitton's engagement with art development in this way. The Young Arts Project press release (found here) claims that such a scheme 'embodies the brand's creative spirit and its long tradition of arts patronage, as well as its ongoing commitment to corporate social responsibility'. I cannot and do not argue with such a claim; the involvement of a fashion institution in the arts makes sense in many ways. I do however, find it interesting that Louis Vuitton as a brand are interested in investing a lot of money into art for young people and by young people. The positive implications that must arise for the brand as a result of supporting the arts must be very highly valued by Louis Vuitton - as indeed they are highly appreciated by people like me. LV's supportive and committed participation in major exhibitions (Kusama at Tate Modern - and everything that went with it - springs to mind) illustrates an awareness for the importance of cultural funding, which I certainly think is worth acknowledging.
More information about REcreative: here
More information about Louis Vuitton YoungArts Project: here