Youth-led Step into the Arts fund awards £65,000 in grants to young people

Grant programme launched by Youth Scotland and Creative Scotland funds 45 youth-led creative arts projects.

A group of young people and a youth worker stand smiling for the camera. Several give the thumbs up sign.

Step into the Arts, a youth-led fund launched in partnership by Youth Scotland and Creative Scotland last March, has awarded £65,000 of funding to young people across the country to pursue creative arts projects and experiences.

Designed entirely by a team of young grantmakers ages 14–25, the fund was created to encourage young people to get involved in the arts, particularly those who face barriers to accessing them.

Since its launch, the fund has been met with great excitement and received more than 100 applications, with young people ages 5–25 from across 22 Local Authorities enthusiastically pursuing both its First steps into the arts grants (for young people with little or no experience in the arts who wanted to explore them further) and its Next steps into the arts grants (for young people with experience in the arts looking to improve their practice).

After careful review, the programme’s young grantmakers awarded funding to 45 unique creative projects (with 22 First Steps grants and 23 Next Steps grants), focusing on supporting those projects that would most help young people break through barriers to the arts and that would make a meaningful difference to the artists and their communities.

For some young people, the grants will support them to take lessons to explore or develop their skills in all kinds of artistic expression, from fine-art painting and fashion design to drumming and special effects makeup.

For others, grants will provide equipment or other practical support to get them started with specific projects, including everything from an educational film about bullying, to a podcast about the experience of being an immigrant in Scotland, to a Wild West-style play promoting positive masculinity.

Living in poverty has seriously affected my ability to access art in its many forms...(my mother) had no support and could not send me to classes like my peers...It is important to me that I can prove my own worth, be valued as a young artist.

Young person who received a Next Steps grant to showcase their work in an exhibition about women and inequality

It will enhance my life, give me a creative outlet where I can celebrate the things that make me different. Being autistic means I can struggle in some environments but with theatrical people I feel like I fit in really well.

Young person who received a First Steps grant to attend theatre workshops

Thank you so much for selecting me as one of the candidates for this funding. I’m really looking forward to expanding knowledge and improving my digital art and photography skills. With the lens I am now able to purchase, I will be able to capture the beauty of people and their emotions. I am incredibly thankful for this and with your support I can now pursue my dreams of photography.

Young person in response to receiving their grant

The diversity of the projects funded directly reflects the desire of the young grantmakers to be broad and inclusive in their definition of creative arts. During their initial meetings to design the Step into the Arts fund, the grantmakers reflected on what ‘creative arts’ meant to them and again and again returned to the idea that it was not about how the art was created, but that it allowed young people to express themselves.

Creative arts means expression, mentally, physically, spiritually and creatively.

Young grantmaker on how to define Creative Arts

With this in mind, the funded projects celebrate creativity in all forms, from graffiti and sculpture to dance and performance. Most importantly to the young grantmakers, each will create an opportunity for other young people to access the arts, especially those who faced barriers to them.

Reflecting on the project, Colin Bradie, Head of Creative Learning at Creative Scotland said:

‘We’re grateful to all the young people involved in the creation of this fund. Involving young people at the heart of decision-making ensures that they’re listened to and respected, making the opportunities more relevant to other young people. They’ve created a vital opportunity for many more young people across the country to step into the arts. Not only will they be able to realise their creative ambitions but they’ll also be making friends, creating communities, and having fun along the way.’

Jo MacDonald, Head of Programmes and Business Development at Youth Scotland said:

‘Youth Scotland was delighted to be able to deliver the Young Grantmakers programme for the Step into the Arts fund. Youth participation is core to our work, and through our iLead training programme we were able to support the young person panel to feel confident and competent to make decisions around the fund. Our inclusive approach ensured we had a group of young people on the panel who represented a diverse range of experiences, all with different creative interests. Each of them brought their own perspective and worked with the others to design a fund that would truly support young people’s creativity, and that they were proud of.’

Learn more about the Step into the Arts fund

Learn more about the Young Grantmakers programme

For editors:

About Youth Scotland:  

We are the largest national youth work organisation in Scotland, supporting 97,018 young people, 1,999 youth groups and over 10,775 youth workers. Youth Scotland has been around since the early 20th century and has a diverse membership network – from small rural youth groups to large urban projects. The common goal that we all share is better outcomes for young people.

Our membership network is made up of local youth groups of all sizes, Area Associations and Youth Scotland staff who can provide support and training on a range of youth work topics. We are proud of the varied, universal youth work our network delivers and the innovative solutions our members create in an ever-changing youth work landscape.

About Creative Scotland

Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland distributing funding provided by the Scottish Government and The National Lottery. Further information at Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Learn more about the value of art and creativity in Scotland and join in at


Media contacts:  

Youth Scotland
Kevin Turner
Senior Communications, Youth Scotland