Writing your Arts Award
BY: Alan Lynch
19 Jun 2017
National Writing Day is approaching, which will see events across the country celebrate writing of all kinds. We thought this would be a great time to consider how writing could be used to complete an Arts Award, and share examples of centres who have done so successfully. You’re reading our blog, so it should come as no surprise that we’re big fans of the written word here at Arts Award. Writing is a varied, accessible art form which can link into both young people’s own interests, but also their education and career prospects. What’s not to love?
There are opportunities to include writing within Arts Award at all five levels. Young people could use their writing for Part A in Discover, Explore and Bronze as evidence of taking part in an arts activity. There’s also opportunities to develop writing: for instance, as part of an arts challenge at Silver Unit 1 Parts A & B; or when extending practice in Gold Unit 1 Part A.
And that’s if we focus on writing as a standalone art form – there are plenty of other ways that writing can be utilised in a portfolio or log book. Discover and Explore Part B can see young people writing what they’ve found out about artists and arts organisations, and in Bronze, Silver and Gold, young people often write their reviews of arts events. Gold Unit 1 Part D is another great place to embed writing, as it asks young people to form and share a view on an arts issue. This is ideally suited to a written opinion piece which could be published online, or in a school newspaper.
We’re not the only people who think that Arts Award and writing go well together!
English PEN are a free speech and literature charity who have delivered Arts Award alongside their existing programmes. They offered young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds opportunities to develop their creative writing skills, with participants turning their own slang into poetry. By speaking with and working alongside professional writers, young people were also able to discuss career pathways.
South Tyneside Libraries weaved writing throughout their Bronze delivery. Young people focused on authors and their work, using this as a starting point to writing their own stories and creating visual art pieces in response to what they’d learned. This shows how writing and stories can lead onto other art forms.
Tameside Cultural Services and The Lowry Arts Centre teamed up to deliver an Arts Award project which included writing, but not as the main focus. Both centres worked in collaboration to produce a bespoke Explore log on the National Theatre production of War Horse. Young people experienced performance, visual arts, and watched the play itself before working on Part C (create). Here they created a performance in response to War Horse, a key aspect of which was writing their own script.
Try it yourself!
The case studies above show the degrees to which writing could be included in your own Arts Award project. There’s scope to build a whole award around writing, perhaps as part of a creative writing club or it can be a springboard to other art forms or creative responses, with a piece of writing being used as inspiration. Why not use our mapping resources to see how your existing writing work can count towards the criteria?
In a recently-launched series of articles, SecEd are promoting an approach to teaching English and literacy across the school curriculum. Cross-curricular work with Arts Award is something that we’ve promoted previously , one of our Good Practice Centres wrote about it last year. We know that Arts Award and writing can both bridge a range of curriculum subjects, because we’ve seen it done! If young people are writing in History, or Science, or Geography then how can you channel that?
Take an example from our Arts Award and KS3 English and History resource: young people studying the First World War took that research and used it to write poetry that they later performed live. History, writing and performance, all linked together under an Arts Award umbrella.
The National Literacy Trust have found that young people write at a higher level if they enjoy it. Arts Award offers a flexible framework for young people to take control of their writing, enabling them to take ownership of their creative output and gain a qualification for it! If you find yourself or the young people you work with inspired this Wednesday, why not use that as the first step on your Arts Award journey?
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