By exploring creative processes, this PhD critically examines what it is about participation in arts activity that holds social and cultural meaning for young people. Focusing on the explorative and expressive rather than the instrumental value of creativity, the study will shed light on the role of participatory arts in the development and negotiation of young identities. The study adopts a social constructionist stance, understanding both ‘the arts’ and ‘youth’ as socially and culturally generated and therefore seeks to explore how this knowledge is sustained by structural processes that invite particular forms of action. Combining ethnographic and visual methodologies, my research highlights the young participants’ perspective, using the artistic outputs generated by them as important data. This is a collaborative project with the Culture Bridge programme, hosted by Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums (TWAM). The study will be located within the arts-based work of Culture Bridge’s network of arts organisations, schools and youth groups, working throughout the North East region.