Arts Award and the Family Arts Festival

Arts Award and the Family Arts Festival

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BY: Guest Writer
26 Oct 2015

Our latest guest blog comes from Charlotte Convey at QUAD.  Charlotte tells us about how Arts Award was used in their Family Arts Festival activities and what they learned ahead of this year’s delivery.

QUAD is a gallery, cinema, café bar, digital resource and workshop that anyone can use.  We are a creative hub that connects people and businesses to art and film and create opportunities for entertainment, education and participation.

arts ward deda 061Our aim for the Family Arts Festival was to encourage our Q Club families to become more actively involved in the creative activities that their children take part in (in Derby) and for those children to achieve a Discover Arts Award.  The project included group activities and suggested go and see performances not only at QUAD but also at Déda.

Arts Award as part of the Family Arts Festival

Q Club is a group that aims to encourage socialisation and independence of all participants.  For the 2014 Family Arts Festival we designed a programme of arts activities and events to help participants complete their Discover Arts Award through Q Club.

Using Arts Award log books, and having lead artists and a trained adviser at QUAD to guide them through the process, we decided to encourage all family members to participate in a supportive and structured programme of work. This programme could be adapted to suit the needs of each family, and in some circumstances provided the incentive to complete a project with focused activities.

DSCF1348QUAD’s programme included:

  • An Exhibition Interpretation with Artist Helen Jackson introducing two activities relating to our ‘Supernatural Season’ and the exhibition ‘An Answer is Expected’ by Susan MacWilliam in the gallery, and ‘Beyond’ on the stairs and corridors
  • A dance related workshop with Alice Vale at Déda exploring the genre of Circus in Performing Arts
  • Tickets to ‘Go and See’ film screenings, performances and Family days at both QUAD and Deda
  • ‘Derby Feste’, the popular post-summer annual festival of free city-wide live performances and breath-taking acts
  • Independent research about an artist or arts organisation
  • An opportunity to share with the rest of the group what you have found out about the arts in Derby, or arts and artists internationally

We also invited families into an introductory session meeting the lead Arts Award adviser, having a tour of QUAD and looking at how the parents would be involved as active participants with an introduction to documentation using predominantly cameras, led by Artist Angela Terris. 


The majority of our Q club families had had little engagement with QUAD and Déda.  Siblings would have their own individual creative interests including music, dance and some digital media, but these were experienced independently of each other and their parents.  As families they might visit National Trust sites or local museums and spend holidays engaging in local and cultural activities.  Participants had heard about previous projects and were interested in finding out what else QUAD could offer, especially in regards to supporting the needs and access requirements of individuals.

Inclusion in the project was seen as a positive way to introduce families to QUAD and Q Club.  For families this was a great opportunity to engage with the arts together. As part of their award each child developed their own focus and interests, whilst being actively supported by their parents and reflecting on experiences alongside their families.

DSCF1337Through participation families enjoyed the opportunity of a ‘behind the scenes’ tour of QUAD, finding out about a much broader programme of activities then they were previously aware of.  The programme exceeded families’ expectations. They enjoyed the positive challenge of collaborating and the experience of working and enjoy something together.  For both parents and children it was an opportunity to work with others and get to know families, sharing experiences and knowledge of further support and cultural activities in the city.

Parent participation was key to the delivery of this project.  They enjoyed the challenges, some of which were out of their own comfort zone, as well as participating alongside their children and supporting their creative development.

Discussions between parents and coordinators were ongoing. Feedback from this particular project has highlighted that to support young people with individual learning needs, clear structure, instructions and suggestions are invaluable to parents. This enables them to support their children, as well as have an understanding of what is expected and what they are aiming to achieve for their award.

One family identified that this structure and clear end goals encouraged parents to remain involved, even though they struggled to engage with the led sessions due to the needs of their family.  As a family they looked at alternative approaches to achieve the aims, continuing to participate and enjoy the activities.  Notably, the relationship between siblings was enhanced as they supported each other and experienced creativity together.

This project has highlighted the importance of involving families in projects that support vulnerable young people.  They offer the opportunity for parents to be involved and also include siblings in a creative experience providing an opportunity for them also to achieve and develop new skills and interests.

DSCF1330Q Club has taken this experience and embedded family inclusion into future projects.  We have also identified that this can link to achieving Arts Awards within our sessions – through supporting our Q Club participants, but also providing the information and guidance for parents to further support young people.  The result is whole families being able to experience the arts together, whilst supporting each other to pursue their individual interests.

Family Arts Festival 2015

We are developing a series of child and family friendly resources at Discover and Explore levels, and will pilot these resources through a facilitated programme of family engagement.

The resources will:

  • Signpost participants to our activities, classes, exhibitions, films and performances
  • Explain how these activities can help them to achieve each section of the award
  • Provide tips and space for participants to record their visits and participation
  • Provide space for creative responses 

Q Club is for children and young people aged between the ages of 8 - 13 years, from the Derby City area. Q Club provides a structured and developmental participatory arts workshops for children who have communication difficulties, behaviour problems, special educational needs and disabilities, with 50% of the places at Q Club targeted at children from the autistic spectrum. 

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