15 years centre stories | Potteries Museum & Art Gallery
BY: Guest Writer
12 Oct 2020
Continuing with our series of posts highlighting the work of organisations who have positioned Arts Award as an important part of their provision, we are excited to turn to Arts Award Supporter, Potteries Museum & Art Gallery who are part of Stoke Museums. Education Assistant, Lisa Joyce explains the impact of becoming an Arts Award Supporter on the museum’s work with schools and the community, and how they have adapted their approach over recent months.
The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery became an Arts Award Supporter in 2018 and almost immediately had our first 60 budding young artists. A fantastic result and so easy!
The opportunity arose to work with Arts Council England, to build relationships with local secondary schools and engage them with the museum and our collections. We partnered with BCB (British Ceramics Biennial) to develop and deliver free cross-curricular clay workshops with the museum education team and local ceramic artists. A requirement of our progress reports was to record how many pupils we help to achieve their Arts Award so we became a supporter. We already had a successful, strong schools programme which immediately supported the Arts Award criteria so it was just a matter of a few alterations to our website so we could shout out to our visitors. We found that although some of our visiting schools were aiming to achieve their Arts Awards, they didn’t realise we had so much to offer to support them.
After revisiting our workshops with a different perspective, we realised we could fully support Arts Award levels Discover, Explore and Bronze and also aspects of Silver and Gold. We have a flexible approach with our support and will always do our best to accommodate the requirements, be it guidance on which workshops best suit their needs or to offering a bespoke tour or activity.
Not only do we support schools but also individuals in the community with our creative family learning activities and events outside of term time. We strive to keep the museum as a free attraction so families can visit us to discover our collections and also keep our activities as low cost as possible.
Arts Award has provided the opportunity to develop relationships with our local schools and their pupils. We have noticed an increase in repeat visits from secondary school age pupils, visiting in their own free time, bringing friends and relatives.
It is an ongoing struggle for secondary schools to visit museums but from our experiences now with Arts Award, we realise that it is not our offer that doesn’t appeal but the fact that teachers and pupils cannot afford time out of their increasingly busy school life for external visits.
It is important to listen to your audience, be flexible and to keep evolving our offer. We are avid supporters of the Kids In Museums manifesto, including taking part in their Takeover Days. I had informal chats with visiting pupils to find out their favourite museum exhibit and what they would like to see displayed in their ‘dream museum’. The responses were amazing and really rather surprising in some cases. Our huge Ephesus jar and Minton vases proved to be very popular (we talked about how many children we could fit inside them and how much of their favourite cereal they could eat from them). They were interested in seeing more sports memorabilia in the museum and obviously, a computer games room, but what really made me jump for joy, was the fact that many pupils were repeat visitors and mentioned previous exhibitions they had enjoyed (eg our Apollo 50 exhibition to celebrate the 50 years anniversary of the Moon landing). They were also very well informed on the disappearance of our Spitfire and were all looking forward to it ‘coming home’ to its brand new gallery.
Recent events have meant that the museum has been closed to the public so in response, we immediately developed a new Family Learning section on our website which features some fantastic new activities to support families with home schooling inspired by the museum’s collections. Through our Clay Museum partnership with BCB, we helped almost 300 pupils to achieve their Arts Award. To enable pupils to still achieve their qualifications during lockdown, we adapted our resources so they could be used with our virtual gallery tours and made them available online. We have received feedback, from both parents and teachers, stating that they have used these resources. Schools have also submitted work that their key workers and vulnerable children have done in response to the museum’s collections. We’ve created an online gallery especially for community responses. We have ensured that we display the Arts Award logo on these pages to support Discover At Home.
Arts Award offers a wealth of help and tools to assist you with being a Supporter. Use Voice Mag – it’s a brilliant way to share your activities and stay informed. I would encourage anyone considering becoming an Arts Award Supporter to go for it!