The Agency

A creative entrepreneurship programme that enables young people from some of the most underserved places in the UK to promote lasting change in their communities.

Creativity and Mental Health

Project Overview

The Agency is a creative entrepreneurship programme enabling young people aged 15 to 25 from some of the most underserved areas in the UK to generate social change projects based on the needs they identify in their own communities. The Agency was originally developed by the Brazilian theatre maker, activist and journalist Marcus Faustini in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro.

The programme was brought to the UK through a partnership between Battersea Arts Centre (BAC), Contact Theatre in North Manchester and People’s Palace Projects (PPP). Instead of asking what they can do to help young people through the arts, they thought about how they can pool their resources, knowledge and expertise to foster change based on the desires of young people.

As creatives developing a project on their own right, The Agency supports them by funding their participation and project costs, developing skills and networks and creating an environment where young people can lead the delivery of their projects, businesses and events.

Since 2013, participants have developed socially engaged projects in fashion, gaming, music, sports, health, gastronomy and many other areas while being supported by a vast network of key local and industry professionals, artists, politicians, researchers and civil servants.

Emerging from an international network developed through PPP’s Points of Contact programme, The Agency had its implementation and first two years funded through the Participatory Performance Arts Award 2012 (Gulbenkian Foundation). The Agency has been run in Belfast and Cardiff in collaboration with FabLab Belfast and The National Theatre of Wales, as well as The Kiln in Brent, and Blackhorse Workshop in Waltham Forest as part of the Mayor of London’s Borough of Culture Programme. A version of The Agency has also piloted in Feltham Young Offenders Institute for boys aged 15-17, in 2019-20. The Agency continues to grow nationally with Energise Me in Southampton joining the network in 2021, and more partners ready to start.

The Agency seeks to be truly representative of the local area, working with young people who are driven and ambitious with lots of ideas, as well as those who may not think they have anything to contribute to their local area, in order to drive social innovation from the ground up.

This project is currently funded by National Lottery Community Fund and Kristian Gerhard Jebsen Foundation.

The Agency Brazil – Agencia de Redes para Juventude

The Agencia de Redes para Juventude was conceived by Marcus Faustini in Rio de Janeiro and its methodology transferred to the UK.

On the video below from 2017,  Marcus Faustini describes his journey and gives insight into what inspired him to create the methodology at the heart of The Agency.

Pilot Community Research

Between April and August 2022, The Agency embarked on a pilot community research project led by People’s Palace Projects. We gathered data and experiences from two communities, working in partnership with Battersea Arts Centre in South London and Contact Theatre in North Manchester,  to continue to support the communities that we work within.

Do you have an idea that will make positive social change, but not sure how to make it a reality?

Please send your enquiry to Battersea Arts Centre or Contact Theatre.

If you would like to support The Agency, including by being part of its network of advocates, please email [email protected]