The Future Is Ours Festival 2021

Author: R. Coughlan

Welcome to the second year of our The Future is Ours festival celebrating youth creativity!

The Future Is Ours festival celebrates young people’s creativity, voice and action in 2021 and features original artworks by over 130 young people shared at an exhibition, online and on billboards and street posters across Manchester. During the festival 22-28th October works were launched online and now a selection of the amazing artworks, interviews, video performances and literature are available to enjoy in your own time below.



Ten young people had their artwork and poetry displayed on electronic billboards and street posters all round Manchester during The Future Is Ours Festival.


Emotional Bandwidth

Exploring technology and mental health, through nostalgia and glitch aesthetics, @emotionalbandwidth was the project of our artists in residence Henry and Michael. Watch their film here.


It's Just A Flower

Ali worked with artist @mernywernz to create designs that they heat press printed on hoodies, T-shirts & totes as well as creating a zine and sticker sets.

This work is about changing your perspective on life. It begins with reference to the ‘he picks me he picks me not’ game that we played as kids and how when this didn’t land in our favour we would say “it’s just a flower”. Whereas the back references how, after numerous attempts, if it were to land on the ‘he picks me’ we would then change the way we see it and believe it was meant to be. So my aim for this work was to highlight this change to other people in hopes of them reconsidering their outlook and see how we can create meaning in life. Watch Ali's film here.



Gabby said; ‘This project began with a desire to explore themes of domestic abuse and all that follows it. I worked with @rachaelelwellartist to create small 3D corsets from book pages. Snippets of my own personal experience of an abusive relationship are wrapped around every corset; each one can be read as a mini fragment alone or together to form a bigger picture. Across all but one of the corsets I’ve highlighted words in red to reflect ideas and feelings surrounding PTSD, depression and anxiety. The untouched corset at the beginning of the work symbolises the moment before starting a journey of exploring domestic abuse: its story is unwritten and plain at a glance.’ Watch Gabby's film here.


Watercolour Triptych

Discussing his piece Randolph said…

‘This watercolour triptych shows the story of Campbell, a half-man half-frog being whose world degrades around him. Each scene shows part of Campbell’s wider story and world in which he is trying to overcome the difficulties of environmental challenges.

Each painting shows different a time period. The first one shows the time when things were sustainable, clean, flourishing and harmonious. It represents an idyllic past with Campbell’s parents frolicking and enjoying the lily pad lake – his human mother reclining on the belly of his frog father.

See the full series of painting here.


Diversity Is Different

Talking about the artwork and process of creating it Aingel said, ‘My piece of art is focusing on diversity. As soon I poured the resin I saw the wide range of colours and patterns meaning you can be anything you want to be in life. Be bright and colourful. I think that viewers can look at this in any way and think what the story behind it is, yet I will never know what they thought. It’s exciting to wonder about others’ wide range of ideas. This is my art and my vision. Art is a creative activity that expresses imaginative or technical skill. Art is a diverse range of human activities so make it what you want.’ See more here.


Go With The Flow

Discussing their period zine Georgie said ‘I created ‘Flow’ - a pack for people with periods a project about how menstruation impacts our mental health.’⁠

It has little tips for people on when’s the best time to socialise etc. It has information about all the different types of people who menstruate, as inclusivity is important so I’ve acknowledged and educated on the fact it is not just women who bleed. It is also to connect people who haven’t menstruated to those who do, by providing more understanding. ⁠

In the pack, there is information on the different seasons that we get during our period. Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn. The information is about the specific scientific ways the hormones produced as each point of our cycle impact our mental health and the ways we can work with our bodies. There seems so little information for young people about the effects of menstruation on mental health I thought it could be really useful to have this as an easy to use resource.⁠ Read the full zine here.


My Mind is a Garden

My Mind is a Garden is a collaborative mural by artist @tasha_whittle and poet @shannonwestacott that you’ll soon be able to find in the courtyard here at 42nd St! Whilst we wait for a pause in the rain so that painting can begin, here are some glimpses at the poetry being used for the piece, which explores the idea of looking after your mind long term rather than seeing mental health recovery as a finish line to be crossed as quickly as you can.


It’s Not Me, It’s You

‘It’s Not Me, It’s You’ is empowerment. The project was born of a desire for vindication, and was propelled by the mirth felt at the vilification of mine and others’ bodies. Through the design process, however, I decided to recall the anger aspect of the artwork, as I felt there was already enough of that in the world. Instead, the image shifted towards healing, intending to remind the wearer of the strength that resides within us all through the use of a flower motif paired with bones.

The Dahlia is symbolic of inner strength, resilience and elegance. Having it appear to bloom from the ribcage – that which protects the heart – is a visual representation of true beauty: the treasure that can never be stolen, growing within all of us. The phrase itself (‘it’s not me, it’s you’) is classically familiar: it’s a spin on the common ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ used when ending a relationship. This piece, however, is intended to encompass the beginning of a new relationship – a relationship characterised by support, kindness and acknowledgement of oneself. Read and see more here.




Thank you to everyone who joined today’s #TheFutureIsOursFestival symposium both virtually and online. We discussed the importance of creativity in mental health support with experts and young people. Looked at the scientific proof behind using creativity to improve mental health and even had a go at a few creative prompts including free writing and collage. If you missed it you can watch the live symposium on our YouTube and you can see story highlights from the day saved on our Instagram stories and grid.