Case study: EOTAS1 Northumberland
BY: Alan Lynch
05 Sep 2018
EOTAS1 Northumberland works across North and South East Northumberland to deliver arts activities to young people who are not attending school. The young people they work with are mostly 13 – 16 years old and have often had difficulties attending school due to chronic illness or long-term mental health issues. EOTAS1 Northumberland have been delivering Arts Award for over 3 years and so far 49 young people have achieved awards.
The centre's approach to Arts Award is based on the varied needs and circumstances of the young people they work with. Arts Award may be delivered at home to someone who has had surgery, but more often it is offered to small groups in a range of community venues across Northumberland. These venues provide a hub of activity where young people are encouraged to experience different arts events and activities.
Another key aspect of EOTAS's provision is to enable young people in areas of social deprivation or rural isolation to experience the arts. They select appropriate projects and activities to increase young people's skills and awareness of the arts industry.
A recent Silver Arts Award project involved young people creating books of stories, which they also animated. This included the production of models, backdrops and props, a soundtrack and editing the finished animations. As part of this project, students worked with an illustrator and created their own paper for the books. The project was cross-curricular, incorporating literacy skills of writing for a specific audience.
Working with the illustration practitioner enabled the students to investigate some of the ways of working in the arts. The students also investigated courses in animation at colleges and universities around the country, and local arts events which they attended and reviewed.
The leadership aspect of the award was completed through an animation workshop that students ran for family and friends. The young people prepared a gallery of photographs and illustrations to demonstrate the progress of their work and then they developed some workshops to teach others how to animate.
Lead Arts Award adviser Hazel Stewart finds that being organised and teaching organisation skills to young people is an essential part of the Arts Award process. This includes monitoring evidence regularly and encouraging young people to keep their portfolios up to date.
EOTAS1 Northumberland have worked with the filmmaker Corrie Greenop, artist Anna Turnbull and Northern Print in Newcastle over the years they have been offering Arts Award. Professionals offer the opportunity to work with industry standard equipment and have the benefits of expertise in an art form. In addition, working with arts practitioners enables the young people to find out about working in the arts first hand.
The centre plans to grow their Arts Award offer to ensure that every young person has access to the award. Staff are being trained to deliver Arts Award Discover and Explore and they aim to increase their capacity to deliver Gold Arts Award in the future.
Arts Award has had a large and positive impact on the young people who have taken part. Hazel Stewart, lead adviser, describes it as 'unlocking potential' of young people suffering a lack of confidence or with difficulty engaging with the curriculum. Staff have seen young people who were afraid to leave their homes flourish working towards an Arts Award through small group activities. Hazel explains: 'It gives some control and personal autonomy to the young person and it also enables them to experience the possibilities of what they may do in the future. It is a demanding process for them, but they seem to flourish with the experience of it. Watching a young person who has suffered massive anxiety attacks running an arts leadership workshop or creating their gallery space to show their work speaks for itself.'
Nearly all of the EOTAS1 young people have experienced some form of adversity. One particular case stands out as an example of what can be achieved. A young person with complex physical disabilities and learning difficulties who had been in hospital for some time created an art gallery in his garden and invited his local community in to view his work, evaluate it and enjoy tea and cakes.
The centre sometimes works with young people who have foreshortened lives. One young person with a very serious illness was able to be supported through a Bronze Arts Award. She chose stop motion animation as her main art form and completed a really interesting Bronze project. In the darkest moments, Arts Award offered her a creative outlet and a sense of purpose.
'I became an Arts Award adviser because I could see the potential for the pure enjoyment of working in the arts with young people who did not have access to the enrichment this can bring. I have never been disappointed. I am always amazed by the talents and skills of the young people we see on a daily basis and the potential they have being unlocked before me. It is one of the best frameworks I can think of to deliver so many positive aspects of cross-curricular work and the other experiences of giving young people a sense of autonomy and greater self esteem.' Hazel Stewart, Learning Manager
'Personally I think I have come very far since my first lesson. I have a lot more confidence in myself.' Amber, Silver Arts Award achiever
'Our workshop went really well, it was great being able to show others our work and I felt really confident about the animation.' Amelia, Silver Arts Award achiever
'Overall, I have learnt to work better with others. I have also learnt that planning and presentation are very important. I have become better at communicating with others and I have become more confident.' Fiona, Silver Arts Award achiever
'This has given Josh so much more confidence in himself. So much so he has actually joined a group to be lead guitarist!' Parent of Silver Arts Award achiever
‘Over the years we have been delivering it, Arts Award has given the EOTAS1 Service in Northumberland an accessible ‘hook’ to engage many young people who have been referred to us because of a range of difficulties. It has allowed us to tap into their creative strengths. The results in most cases – both in terms of the work they have produced and the increase in their self-esteem – have been hugely worthwhile.’ Chris Farley, EOTAS1 Northumberland Manager