Local Online Art Project Wins O2 Think Big Award

22 year old Jonathan Fellows from Seacroft has been awarded a £300 cash grant by O2 Think Big to support his innovative idea of creating an urban art website which will showcase the artistic talents of local young people and encourage local businesses to use these talents for their own creative needs.

The award was presented to Jonathan by UK Digital Champion Martha Lane Fox who was in Leeds as part of Go ON Leeds, an initiative which aims to unlock the interests of the 136, 951 offline citizens of Leeds and encourage them to explore the possibilities of being online for the first time. Go ON Leeds is driven and supported by volunteer ‘local digital champions’ who will aim to inspire, encourage and support 35,000 new Leeds residents to get started with the internet by June 2012

Jonathan’s project, Seacroft Urban Art, harnesses the power of the internet to showcase the talents of local young artists and potentially allow them to make money from their talents from local businesses. Through Seacroft Urban Art, Jonathan aims to bring young people together to create new friendships across the estate, help tackle issues around gangs and provide learning opportunities for urban artists.

The O2 Think Big award will be used by Jonathan to buy paint, painting materials, marketing collateral and to register a domain name for the website.

‘I wanted to bring my friends together on the estate and show that young people can do positive things in the community,’ said Jonathan. ‘I wanted to give an opportunity for my friends and other local young people to be creative and to show off their talents.’

‘Digital know-how is now a fundamental life-skill ‘ arguably as vital as knowing how to read and write. Jonathan is a fantastic local digital champion and his exciting project is a testament to how the web can help unleash the creative talents of young people,’ said Martha Lane Fox.

‘This is a fantastic project from a very motivated young man,’ said George Mudie, MP for Leeds East. ‘Seacroft has many challenges and initiatives like this are a vital outlet for young people that live in the area.’

Helen Parker, Community Manager at O2 said, ‘We believe in young people and we believe that they can make a difference. Through the Think Big initiative, we are giving young people cash, training and support so that they can make a positive change to their areas. Seacroft Urban Art is a perfect example of how nurturing a young person’s idea can create genuine social action and also help overturn negative perceptions around young people.’

Jonathan is a member of the LS14 Trust, a community owned and led organisation working with residents and businesses in Seacroft to bring about positive change in the area and restore a sense of pride as well as community ownership. One of its initiatives involved transforming an empty office into a Digital Lounge to provide local people with free internet access.

O2’s Think Big programme aims to bring about positive change in local communities by championing the ideas of young people. Young people between 13 and 25 can apply for an award for their projects and benefit from a package of training, support and mentoring; from project management to communications, and from presentation skills to networking. After the initial grant, they will also have the chance to apply for £2,500 to further boost their project.

To find out more about Think Big, or to apply for an award, visit www.o2thinkbig.co.uk