Creative youth program

A Creative Youth Perspective

The Creative Youth Program aims to provide a paid opportunity for local youth that are exploring a creative discipline and to contribute to the local creative sector. The successful artist showcases a piece of their creative discipline monthly in the City of Kelowna’s Cultural Services e-newsletter. The Creative Youth Program is intended to tap into the skills and perspectives that young people bring to cultural organizations and the community as artists, decision makers and volunteers.

If you are registered for the Arts & Culture E-updates, each month you will read a piece by a creative youth in Kelowna to share their talent, words and news about youth in our arts and culture community.             

Call for Submissions

We are currently seeking applicants for two separate start dates. One will start in the September 2023 newsletter, and another will start in the March 2024 newsletter, both for a 6-month commitment.  For more program information, read the Creative Youth program guidelines.        

Apply Now

Learn about the current youth creative

Introducing Alex Xiao!

Alex is an inspiring young musician in his final year of high school at Okanagan Mission Secondary School. His love of music began 10 years ago by learning to play piano, then Alto Saxophone for the last 5 years.

He draws his musical experiences from all over. Playing in the school concert and jazz program, working with commercial music bands, managing marching bands, performing solo piano, and much more.

While struggling to find something to do during lockdown, he realized his ability to compose music. Since then, he has composed for Sea Cadets and the Kelowna Community Music School.

Alex has performed before concerts for the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra and volunteers his time in the community through his music. To recognize his talent and volunteer contributions, he was a finalist for the Teen Honour in the Arts Award with the City of Kelowna Civic and Community Awards in 2022.

Alex will be contributing a column to the e-Update for the next six months from the view of youth in the arts.

Previous youth creatives

Dryden Bennett

Born and raised in Kelowna, Dryden Bennett is a graduate of Rutland Senior Secondary School and has been playing the trombone with the Okanagan Youth Symphony Orchestra (OSYO) for 3 years. Dryden started composing music at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic to keep in touch with music while rehearsals were on hold. 

When the OYSO resumed their season, Dryden joined their composition program. Rosemary Thomson, conductor for the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra (OSO), fell in love with one of Dryden's original compositions, Tangerine Trees. In the fall of 2021, the OSO performed Tangerine Trees live, its professional and public premiere. 

After having multiple original pieces performed by both the OSO and the OYSO, Dryden was in April 2022 nominated for and named recipient of the Teen Honour in the Arts Award presented by the City of Kelowna. 


Julia Laurenne Chambers

Born and raised in Kelowna, Julia has always loved to sing but she only sang in secret until the age of 10. She first found her voice at an    Elementary School talent show. Gaining confidence, she decided to try voice lessons. That lead her to classical singing with the group Candesca, under the direction of Alexandra Babbel. When she was 15, the group travelled to New York City and Julia saw her first Broadway play, Phantom of the Opera. Ever since that day, she was instantly hooked on musicals.

When she returned home, Julia successfully auditioned for the role of Maria in West Side Story at the Kelowna Actors Studio and so began her journey of musical theatre. She eventually returned to New York in 2018, this time as a drama major in the New Studio on Broadway at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Now, Julia continues her drama studies in New York in method acting at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute, while also double majoring in journalism. She is honoured to have the opportunity to share part of her journey and her passion for storytelling with her hometown community.

John Forbes

John Forbes is a young professional photographer from Peachland,B.C. who now resides in Kelowna. John’s love of photography started as early as high school when he started hiking. He wanted to capture the views from each hike to show his friends and family and to remember the beauty. As he developed his skills, he started seeing photography as a form of art. It was from there he committed to further study digital media. John completed his Diploma in Digital Media in 2021, focusing on photography.

John now works as a freelance photographer shooting portraits, products, and dining/food. His passion lies in capturing the best that nature, people and commerce offers. Aside from landscapes, he enjoys photographing people by capturing a moment that can speak an entire story about them or simply an instance in their life. His latest project is photographing the talent of local band, “Broke Down Trucks”. Learn more about John and his practice

Amelia Brooker

Amelia Brooker is a young writer from Kelowna BC pursuing her passion for literature and artistic creativity. She is a student at the University of British Columbia, studying English Literature and Business Management. With a love for telling stories, Amelia has experience in multiple areas of work and a special interest in creative writing and theatre. In the past, she has written for the All Things Broadway blog, and has done dramaturgy work for MissionMainstage Theatre Company. 

She is currently the senior editor for Motive, Word & Pen, a youth non-profit writing collective. She has also produced two short plays, at both the Goodwill Shakespeare Festival in 2019 and for the UBC Players’ Club in 2020. She draws her literary inspiration from her favourite books and plays, including Little Women, Macbeth, and Mother of the Maid. Amelia is excited to continue telling stories of youth in Kelowna who share her same passion for the arts.

Having completed her role as the Creative Youth, Amelia shares her testimony to the success of the program:

"Having grown up in Kelowna for the last ten years, I have developed and fostered a love for the arts through my experiences within the community. Being able to share that love back into the community as well as develop my professional skills has been a wonderful opportunity. As a young person trying to break into the professional world, chances to highlight youth experiences are few and far between. The opportunity to share my experience and uplift the stories of other local youth has been an amazing one.

I am very lucky to have had Cultural Services put their faith in me. Especially during the pandemic, artists of all ages have felt the effects of their artistic voices being suppressed. It really does mean a lot to have their support, and to know that my role in the community is valued. By showing the youth of Kelowna that their voices matter and their work is important, it uplifts us all and inspires us to continue our art."

Program FAQ's
Is there a deadline to apply?

Applications are being accepted until June 30, 2023 

Is any form of art considered?

Yes! Any artform is able to participate in this program, including but not limited to, interdisciplinary art, social practice art, digital or electronic art, installation, visual art, performance art, music or literary arts.

Please note that along with providing photos of your work (if you are not a writer) you will be required to include a short write-up about the piece and your experience developing it as a youth in the Central Okanagan.

What is the typical timeline for the program?

We are seeking a commitment of 6 months.

It is estimated that it would take the artist 2-3 hours per month to prepare their article.

Your article will be due on the 22nd of each month.

 How/when do I receive payment?

Payment is distributed by cheque and will be sent directly to your mailing address, as provided in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

When will I hear back about my application?

Applicants can expect to receive information about their submission one month after the application deadline