Creative campaigning: an Arts Award journey to social action

Creative campaigning: an Arts Award journey to social action

Picture of Amy Lee

BY: Amy Lee
03 Jul 2023

Wanting to expand your Arts Award work to help others in the local community and wider society? Why not consider incorporating social action into your delivery, which will give a new sense of purpose to the projects you and your young people are working on. This blog will guide advisers wanting to connect with different forms of social action, for example: fundraising, campaigning, and volunteering.

What is social action?

Quite simply, social action means taking action in the service of others. Social action should have a double benefit to strengthen both young people and their communities:

»» Benefit for the young person – developing their skills, character and life opportunities

»» Benefit to the community, cause or social problem

Social action offers a wide range of possibilities for young people to develop arts and leadership skills by taking part in creative activities and campaigns. Staging a charity drama performance that raises awareness of an important cause is just one way that young people can take part in social action and gain their Arts Award at the same time.

Great social action, as defined by the Young Foundation and the Institute of Voluntary Research, is:

»» reflective – recognising contributions as well as critical reflections and learning

»» challenging – stretching and ambitious as well as enjoyable and enabling

»» youth – led, owned and shaped by young people’s needs, ideas and decisions

»» socially impactful – with a clear intended benefit to a community, cause or social problem

»» progressive – sustained and providing links to other activities and opportunities

»» embedded – accessible to all and well-integrated with existing pathways to become a habit for life

How to explore social issues through the arts

The below table gives advisers and young people some ideas of how social issues can be tackled with different art forms. It contains handy example activities to help inspire planning for arts skills development and arts leadership projects.

As an Arts Award adviser, you may find that you’ll need to signpost young people to relevant local or national charities where they can find out more about the issues they are passionate about, what can be done to help, and support them to safely send any funds they raise to their chosen cause.Picture1-Jul-03-2023-02-59-05-8718-PM

To view an interactive version of this tool containing and full range of art form responses to many social issues, click here

Examples of Artistic Responses to Social Issues

At Rock It! Collective, Bolton Council Arts Development, a group of young people formed a partnership with a local theatre company. They learnt drama techniques and explored how to create a drama piece to perform to an audience about an issue they were passionate about. The group decided to raise awareness of bullying and trolling on social media and to raise money for the Samaritans at the same time. They sold tickets and held a question-and-answer session after the performance. Whilst their project was running, they opened an online page where friends and family could donate to the charity. They raised over £500 and gained coverage in the local press.Picture2-1

Additionally, Harry Short, who was nominated for TrinityTalent 2021 for his Leadership, planned a series of workshops for adults in care. He achieved his Gold Arts Award at Great North Museums. You can read more about his commitment to his community by engaging with inter-generational groups in Voice Mag.

Top tips for incorporating social action into Arts Award delivery

  • If you’re looking for an organisation for young people to visit such as a local theatre or drama company, check out the Arts Award Supporter site. Arts Award Supporters offer activities, events, expertise or resources which help young people working towards their Arts Award. To find your nearest Supporter visit
  • Gain the support of a local charity campaigning about the same issue, sell tickets to your performance to raise money for them, create a social media campaign to promote the performance and the charity

  • Offer your story to a local newspaper to help promote your chosen issue in the wider community. Create a social media campaign using your images/article to raise awareness of your story

  • Share your work and get feedback from other young people who love the arts by visiting You can add information about the event you are running, a review you’ve created or blog about your view on an arts issue 
We hope you’ve found these tips helpful and wish you success with your Arts Award delivery incorporating social action. Want to find more ways to strengthen your community and beyond through Arts Award? Check out other posts on our Arts Award blog, where this month the theme is Arts in the Community. 


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