In 2018, Patternmakers will be working with the Museum of Contemporary Art to research the impact of their GENEXT program on young people now, and later in life. 

GENEXT is a peer-led, festival-style event, programmed by the MCA’s Youth Committee exclusively for young people aged 12–18. It’s inspired by the artists, works and ideas that shape the MCA’s exhibition program throughout the year. You can read more about the program here.

The program has been running since 2005 – and has seen over 26,948 young people through their doors (but who’s counting!) from across Greater Sydney and beyond – from as far afield as Wollongong, the Blue Mountains and Newcastle. 

Because of this reach, we’re really excited to hear what impact attending GENEXT has in the short term, and over the long. Think: self-expression, confidence, empathy, cultural and social awareness, friendships. Also think: challenging conversations, visual literacy, and diverse careers inside and outside of the arts, all influenced by the program. 

GENEXT is all about peer-led engagement, and so we knew we would need a bespoke methodology for the project. It would need to be owned by young people, and combine rigorous research techniques with creative processes to make it as engaging and meaningful as possible. 

In April we met with MCA stakeholders to co-design the evaluation, including Young Creatives Coordinator Jo Higgins, artist educators and past and present Youth Committee members.

Co-designing the evaluation: Jo Higgins, Dylan Mighell and Jodie Whalen

Co-designing the evaluation: Jo Higgins, Dylan Mighell and Jodie Whalen

Some key features of our approach from here are:

  • Providing opportunities for Youth Committee members to learn and take part in the research process, and a couple will be joining us in the field: collecting data and conducting interviews
  • Collecting data in creative ways: in addition to depth interviews, focus groups and an online survey, we are working with the team to hear from attendees through workshop activities at some of the GENEXTs this year.

On a side note: If you ever attended GENEXT in your younger days AND like filling out user-friendly, accessible surveys, let us know. We can make sure you get on the list.

Strengthening, growing and sharing the different ways arts and culture organisations engage young people is very close to our hearts – especially with two new little Patternmakers born into our team in the last year. And we’re thrilled to be working with the MCA on this project.

Keep your eyes peeled early 2019 to hear about the findings. 



If you can’t wait until then, but are passionate about the arts and young people, check out our report on the impact the Australian Theatre for Young People is having on the mental health and wellbeing of young people here.


About the Author

Brooke Boyce
Research Manager

Brooke is experienced in delivering complex quantitative and qualitative research projects, and is our in-house expert on all things methodological.