Making a difference with Arts Award volunteering

Making a difference with Arts Award volunteering

Picture of Annabel Thomas

BY: Annabel Thomas
07 Mar 2022

At it’s core, Arts Award is all about authentic arts opportunities for young people. This might take the form of attending an arts event, or meeting an artist to find out what it’s really like. Or, especially at higher levels, this can include work experience, or work-based volunteering opportunities. We believe that by young people having the chance to be embedded into an organisation they not only get a much greater understanding of the work of the sector, but are able to find out about career opportunities and jobs that otherwise they may not discover.

On the flipside, we know that many organisations use volunteers to support their learning, engagement and outreach programmes, and that this can be an incredibly enriching experience for both volunteers and young people. In the blog today we explore both sides of volunteering and Arts Award and hear from innovative organisation Tempo Time Credits on how your adult volunteers can get even more out of their volunteering.

Volunteering to gain your Arts Award

At Silver, while we don’t ask for volunteering or work experience explicitly, we know that some young people may do this for their Unit 1 Part D. Volunteering can be a great way to explore arts careers and discover what they enjoy – or don’t – about the sector. This could be a one-off opportunity to work alongside a practitioner, or to shadow another member of staff to help get a flavour of what it is like to be a professional artist or worker in the cultural industries.

Once young people reach Gold we are more explicit about requiring some work experience or volunteering. Unit 1 Part B of Gold is all about career development opportunities in the arts, and providing the chance for authentic engagements with organisations. Young people can also choose training or workshops for this part of Gold, but we know that many have undertaken volunteering and/or work experience and gained a great deal from it, as Gold achiever Sienna James explains in her case study.

At both Silver and Gold we are interested in young people having the chance to try something new, and to dig a bit deeper into what it would be like to work in the sector. We hope that this helps to broaden horizons and encourages young people to see careers in the arts as being viable and achievable to them.

Volunteers supporting Arts Award delivery

Aside from young people volunteering to gain their Arts Award, we know that many organisations rely on the generosity of volunteers to support their work. Volunteers can take on a huge range of roles with Arts Award delivery, depending on the requirements of a project or organisation and the interest and skills of the volunteer. For example, volunteers can:

  • Be Arts Award advisers (as long as they meet our person specification and have undertaken adviser training)
  • Support with the delivery of Arts Award projects or one-off events such as a family or open day
  • If volunteering as a steward or in a similar role support young people to make the most of their visit or engagement, which can lead into their reviews
  • If they have a background as an artist or practitioner they can be someone that is interviewed by young people – suitable for all levels of Arts Award

Simply by providing a warm welcome to cultural organisations volunteers can make a huge difference to how young people perceive them. Making young people feel like these organisations are as much for them as they are for anyone could help to solidify the next generation of arts makers and consumers.

Maximising volunteering opportunities

Tempo Time Credits is a way to recognise the time volunteers give – be they young people working towards an Arts Award or organisational volunteers. Run by We Are Tempo, people earn Tempo Time Credits by helping out in a community group or service that is part of the Tempo network. They use Tempo Time Credits on a wide range of fun activities.

Tempo Time Credits recognise the value of volunteering in the arts community and have been working with arts and cultural organisations for many years across the UK. Tempo Time Credits help to sustain volunteering among young people and help arts organisations to retain their volunteers. Over 80% of volunteers report an improvement in their quality of life. Volunteering contributes over £200bn to the UK economy.

Mark Froud, Tempo Time Credits CEO

Find out more about Tempo Time Credits at

Regardless of how volunteering contributes to your work with young people, we hope this blog helps to demonstrate the many ways volunteering can contribute to Arts Award achievement.

Check out the Arts Award Voice site for young people
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