This week’s blog comes from Laura Shepherd at Queen Elizabeth School in Cumbria, a Good Practice Centre for 2015-2016. Laura has written about how Queen Elizabeth School have built connections to their local community, and how this will support their Arts Award delivery.
How can a group take Arts Awards further? Who knows what Arts Awards actually is? What benefits can we get from reaching out to others in our community?
Since becoming a Good Practice Centre (GPC) last year the young people and I at Queen Elizabeth School have been thinking of fun, exciting and engaging ways of taking Arts Awards further: out into our local community. Because we are all so passionate and LOVE our Arts Awards so much we want to shout from the roof tops about just how fantastic it is to be involved with.
Unfortunately at first, trying to think of practical ways to get ourselves out there brought us many questions, difficulties and problems. Not only can we only work outside of school timetable, we have found that not many people know exactly what the award is, and may not be wiling to engage with us. Plus our moderately rural setting can at times work against us…So what to do what to do? How can we get involved?
As part of our role as a GPC we were planning an event to raise Arts Award’s profile in our area. We decided to use this event to find out where exactly Arts Awards sat within the community and how we can get involved locally. Our group brainstormed the most attractive way to engage with others, ways that people would be willing to give up their time for, and decided afternoon tea would be the best way to get busy people involved.
Armed with a relaxing space, tasty home made sandwiches and a well planned out pitch to convince even the grumpiest of Dragons, we opened the doors to all artists, youth leaders, teachers and councilors from our area.
And…SUCCESS!!! 15 members of the community joined us to talk about our Arts Awards. The young people involved explained what the award was, why we wanted to be involved with community, how it could benefit us all and generally shared the passion for the award they have with others.
It was a very proud moment seeing the young people leading discussion topics and articulating exactly the value Arts Award holds for them. I think if I am honest this was the unique selling point to the people that turned up. Seeing the fire ignited in these children’s bellies developed a little passion and interest for themselves.
Into the Future
So after much chatting, cups of tea and sharing of ideas we reached the end of our evening, buzzing and ready to make things happen. It turned out that not many folk were award of what Arts Award was and many admitted that this is the reason they have been reluctant in the past to engage with it.
We decided on a number of initial possible events such as:
- Arts Awards Week – sharing of all the work created for Arts Awards
- Hiring a stall in the local market day – Running arts and craft activities
- Award in a week – inviting local primary schools to engage with works shops to complete their Discover and Explore awards
- Band nights – held at rugby clubs and to be given venues for free
- Window dressing – as part of Kirby Lonsdale Festival, use local shop windows to display art work from young people
Our next step is a meeting with our whole school to see if any new recruits are interested in taking part, and help bring to life as many of the community links as possible. It feels a really positive place to be and we are desperate to get going with the projects!
Taking Arts Awards into the community could potentially be a really tricky thing but so far we have been received positively and people seem willing to give it a go. We shall see what the coming months bring and how we can bring to fruition the community links formed so far.
Watch this space…