Arts Award Blog

Celebrating the Shakespeare Challenge special edition Arts Award

Author: Alan Lynch

Date: 28 Jun 2018

Trinity College London and the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) have been working in partnership on a special edition known as Shakespeare Challenge. This has seen nearly 2,500 Arts Award special edition certificates being achieved since April 2015.

With Shakespeare Challenge coming to an end in December 2018, we wanted to celebrate the work of two centres who have delivered some terrific Arts Award projects.

The Customs House

The Customs House in South Shields believes in the power of Arts Award to have a positive, and sometimes transformative, effect on children and young people. Their Learning and Participation Team deliver an Arts Award programme project led by Learning Officer Elizabeth Kane.

Their Arts Award programme is delivered across schools and youth groups including The Treasure Group, a project for Looked After Children. The Customs House and their partners have seen how Arts Award increases confidence, self-belief and sense of wellbeing, and has also improved participants’ attainment levels.

One such project was ‘Spooky Shakespeare’ where young people completed their Arts Award Explore Shakespeare Challenge. Working with professional animator Lesley-Anne Rose, the group focused on the play Macbeth. Children learnt how to record sound, reading passages familiarising themselves with the story and language. Next, they created character designs for some key characters including the witches, their familiars, and Macbeth. Young people researched Lesley-Anne Rose and the Royal Shakespeare Company, before working as a team to create a wonderful animation based on their own designs.

This animation was screened at a celebratory event with carers and staff from South Tyneside Fostering Services. Children received feedback on their log books and demonstrated how to create a stop motion animation with a magical crown that moved along a row of the audience’s heads! Although not originally imagined as part of the project, the animation was showcased at The North East Young Film Makers Award to an audience of 400 people. The full film is available to view online.

University of Cambridge Museums

As part of an ongoing strategic partnership, Year 8 students from Soham Village College have taken part in different Arts Award Shakespeare Challenge projects delivered by the Education Department at the Fitzwilliam Museum and the University of Cambridge Museums (UCM). This relationship has allowed young people to experience cultural opportunities that they might otherwise have missed.University of Cambridge Museums 02

This project is delivered across eight sessions in the spring term, with the aim of raising young people’s aspirations and providing an enriching experience for their study of their set Shakespeare text in English. UCM works with up to 15 pupils receiving Pupil Premium funding and seeks to support their attainment in English and increasing their Cultural Capital, addressing concerns around the attainment gap between Pupil Premium students and their peers within the region.

Their innovative and creative programmes focused on Shakespeare’s World, using the museum’s collections to bring alive Shakespeare’s writing and the period he worked in. For many of the students this was their first experience of Shakespeare. They worked in art forms as varied as theatre, painting, craft, music and script writing.

One of the highlights came in the 2018 programme, where students studying Romeo and Juliet worked with musicians from the Academy of Ancient Music to create their own compositions. Students heard live music and learnt about Tudor instruments in the Fitzwilliam Gallery spaces, before working closely with the musicians to create their own lyrics and musical composition.

University of Cambridge Museums 01Many students in this year’s cohort were interested in progressing to Silver Arts Award so there are plans for UCM to return to Soham Village College to support them, as well as welcoming more Year 8 students for Bronze Arts Award in Autumn 2018.

Feedback from one parent about her daughter’s involvement sums up the response to these projects:

“Not only has it developed her understanding of Shakespeare, but it has inspired her to do more art work and drawings at home. I would like to think this has had a positive impact on her art progress. On completion of the project my daughter has transferred her enthusiasm to her school work. She even pleaded with me to take her to school after having a full set of braces fitted and being in pain so she could hand in her Arts Award portfolio! The whole experience has allowed her to grow in confidence and knowledge.”

The Arts Award project, and ongoing strategic partnership between the University of Cambridge Museums and Soham Village College is funded by Arts Council England as part of the University of Cambridge Museums National Portfolio Organisation status, the University of Cambridge Museums Widening Participation Project Funding and joint fundraising by the school and the Fitzwilliam Museum.

Adapted with permission from UCM blog posts published in 2015 & 2018

The Shakespeare Challenge special edition Arts Award is available until 31 December 2018

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