The sun may have been a bit reluctant up in Scotland this summer, but that has not stopped some fabulous Arts Award centres from delivering great projects. With the Scottish schools returning for a new school year mid-August, See Think Make, the training, support and development agency for Arts Award in Scotland, has been out and about finding out about some inspiring local Arts Award centres.
These centres have really different models; from how they use the Awards in their work to how they’re funded - demonstrating just how flexible Arts Award can be in any creative learning setting.
First up is Outpost Arts in Langholm in the Scottish Borders. Their first Award, which they completed just before the school summer holidays, was an Explore Arts Award with a group of S1 to S3s (ages 11 to 15) from Langholm Academy. They used Arts Award as a vehicle to tackle social issues in creative ways, looking towards the arts and creativity as both a way of connecting with a difficult subject and also, by promoting creative knowledge and skills, developing tools to escape potential poverty.
Their second Arts Award was very different - a 'Discover in a day' which was delivered as an 'artventure nature trail', working with local partner organisations Wild Eskdale and Muckle Toon Adventure Festival. The trail created opportunities for young people and families attending the summer adventure festival to explore creativity in nature and also visit two exhibitions they organised in Langholm's High Street (one of which was by their Explore Arts Award participants!)
Lucy McLeod, Creative Director said,“Arts Award offers a cohesive template that allows for flexibility in delivery and content. It offers real and tangible results which helps focus participants. A nationally recognised qualification adds real value to a young person's CV and can give them a strong feeling of accomplishment which boosts confidence. The Award also connects young people to artists and arts organisations, museums and galleries, which creates opportunities for them to learn about the creative industries through different lenses.”
We asked if there was any advice Lucy would give to other Arts Award Advisers, “Don't feel scared of contacting Arts Award directly for support as you plan or deliver your award - we found them very accommodating and helpful. Take time to explore the Arts Award Voice website when planning, to see the award from a young person's point of view.”
Next up is Toonspeak Young People’s Theatre in Glasgow, which is one of the longest standing active Arts Award Centres in Scotland. They have recently moderated at Gold making them the only centre up here to have delivered at every level of Arts Award!
Most recently they have helped four young people work towards achieving their Arts Award - two at Silver and two at Gold. Participants began working on their Arts Awards in the context of helping to create their large-scale theatre production TELT! They then worked on additional bespoke projects in order to complete their Awards.
Toonspeak deliver Arts Award because they feel young people are attracted by the opportunity to achieve a nationally recognised qualification.
General Manager, Alan Govan’s advice to other centres is, “Before you begin, make sure you have a clear system for collating and organising evidence. The Seesaw app is great for this. Get this right from the offset and your future self will thank you!”
They are currently gathering evidence on behalf of more than 50 participants from across Toonspeak's programme in order to help them achieve Arts Awards Discover, Explore & Bronze.
Finally, we spoke to Glasgow Kelvin College who have been running a Bronze Arts Award programme for around 5 years.
They have been working with vulnerable young people who attend college as an alternative educational placement to school, the most recent cohort completing their Bronze Arts Award at the end of term. The young people were given opportunities to sample different arts activities such as; clay modelling, screen-printing, song writing, performing and recording. Working either with college teaching staff who deliver the Art & Design curriculum or getting involved with larger-scale projects by linking with partner organisations.
Fiona Templeton, CLD manager said, “Arts Award is used to recognise creative achievement alongside a range of other youth awards and certificates. We appreciate the flexible and non-prescriptive nature of the Awards to frame a young person’s achievements as they try new activities and develop creative skills. Creative activities can be a wonderful opportunity for these young people to express themselves, many of whom have experienced trauma and adversity in their lives.”
Her advice to other advisers would be that “the young people’s planning and reflection on the different sections/criteria of the Award are the key components to show they have taken ownership of the process.”
If you are a centre based in Scotland and you are delivering or thinking about delivering Arts Award, you can contact Sarah Longfield at See Think Make for support, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, if you are a centre delivering Arts Award in Scotland and working with young people for whom access and inclusion is an issue, you can apply for an Access Fund grant of up to £1,500. Access Fund is now open to any centre based in the UK and the next round opens on 16 September 2019. For more information click here.