MPower exhibition showcases new partnership project for vulnerable men as part of Brighton Photo Biennial


A new partnership project between Brighton Dome, Photoworks, A Band of Brothers and The Connected Hub, focusing on vulnerable young men from Brighton & Hove is to be showcased in an exhibition, as part of the Brighton Photo Biennial (BPB). The exhibition, On the Level, runs from Saturday 28 Oct – Sunday 6 November at Brighton Dome.

The project and exhibition will launch with a performance (28 October, 8pm-9pm), created and performed by a group of young men aged 15 – 16 from Brighton & Hove. Working with writer and performer Sean Mahoney and photographer Ania Dabrowska the exhibition will reflect the group’s thoughts on male representation, investigating the transitional journey from adolescence to manhood, and the risks boys face as they struggle to fit in and prove themselves as adult men.

National figures show men are disproportionately likely to be involved in crime - men account for eight out of ten people cautioned by the police, nearly nine out of ten people found guilty for indictable offences, and are responsible for 92% of violence against the person. Young men are also particularly at risk of suicide - it is the second most common cause of death amongst men under 35. The MPower project will seek to address these issues by creating bespoke learning opportunities using photography, creative writing and performance as powerful, transformative learning tools.

For BPB’s seventh edition understandings of identity and representation and how photography can inform and reflect socio-political issues takes centre stage. This project is part of Photoworks commitment to learning and participation; an intrinsic characteristic of all BPB16 projects and something that is extended throughout the programme, to ensure opportunities to take part are embedded from the commissioning through to delivery.

Juliette Buss, Learning and Participation Curator at Photoworks and BPB said: “The MPower project is an important part of BPB16. It will develop skills and improve the self-confidence of those taking part, through the creation of photography and performance.”

MPower will also build on the successful community work that Brighton Dome has been engaging in for the past few years through its flagship project Miss Represented, a collective of vulnerable young women aged 13-21 who face challenging life situations such as homelessness, exclusion from school, and mental health problems and are supported to produce multi-art events.

Rebecca Fidler, Creative Learning Manager at Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival said: “Seeing how the girls of Miss Represented have transformed and flourished over the years, we are delighted to be working with Photoworks to pilot this project for young men. It is an important opportunity for us as a community to engage with and hear the voices of the young men involved who will have a safe space to explore issues and develop creative skills for self-expression. We know the arts can play a significant role in shaping the lives of young people and helping them access new ways of seeing themselves and the world them. This project presents a fantastic opportunity for this and for us to connect with these valuable but rarely heard voices.”

The project will be delivered by Photoworks, a national development agency for photography in partnership with Brighton Dome; the Connected Hub, a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) for yr 11 students; and A Band of Brothers, a charity established by men committed to positive social change through personal development and community building. Funding comes from Big Lottery through the Awards For All programme and Arts Council England.