Spotlight on University for the Creative Arts: Delivering visual arts programmes online

Spotlight on University for the Creative Arts: Delivering visual arts programmes online

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BY: Guest Writer
06 Jan 2022

Holly Rogers and Louisa Clements are lead Arts Award advisers for the Kent and Medway Collaborative Outreach Programme (KaMCOP) at the University for the Creative Arts (UCA), a creative specialist university with campuses in Kent and Surrey. UCA is a Trinity Champion Centre for Arts Award and, at the start of the pandemic, they adapted their Bronze Award programme so that it could be delivered entirely online. They share with us an overview of the programme and their top tips for delivering Arts Award digitally.

At UCA, we aim to increase the number of young people from under-represented groups who progress into creative progress into creative pathways. Through a variety of outreach activities with young people aged 13-18, we promote social mobility, widen access to arts and culture, and realise the aspirations of young people from targeted areas in Kent and Medway.

We started delivering Arts Award to give young people the opportunity to achieve an arts qualification and develop their transferable skills, supporting their progression into future study and creative careers. Since 2018, we have supported over 440 young people to achieve Arts Award at all levels (primarily Bronze).

Our Bronze Arts Award programme typically lasts for four days during the school holidays. Previously we delivered these in real life, with young people visiting us at one of our campuses and being supported by advisers in person.

Moving to digital

The pandemic brought new challenges and a pilot programme for Bronze Award was delivered in August 2020 via Blackboard Collaborate, an online classroom platform. Since then, we've delivered many successful online Bronze programme, covering the criteria virtually:

Part A Explore the arts as a participant: We deliver live creative workshops using simple materials which have been posted to young people at home. We also upload a selection of tutorial videos and guides to a share area, which young people can use to learn further creative skills.

Part B Explore the arts as an audience member: We often take young people on a virtual tour using Google Arts and Culture. We have also reached out to local galleries who have delivered virtual tours or asked young people to watch online plays and movies (animations or musicals are especially great for identifying multiple art forms).

Screenshot of a Google Arts and Culture gallery tour. The young people are discussing Van Gogh's Sunflowers in the chat to the right-hand side of the screen.

Part C Arts inspiration: The lends itself well to virtual delivery and we encourage young people to use good quality online sources for their research. This is a great way to introduce online libraries or artwork banks (we love the National Portrait Gallery's).

Part D Art skills share: Encouraging young people to involve their families and friends has worked well. Being able to skill-share through online platforms has allowed young people to show us some amazing new things - we've seen TikTok tutorials and visual instruction guides on Instagram!

Virtual Arts Award delivery - our top tips for delivering a visual arts-based award online

  • Icebreakers are great to get the group comfortable in the virtual classroom - we play Pictionary on the shared whiteboard!

  • Screenshot of how Padlet has been used to share evidence with each otherA shared upload space such as is a great way for resources to be hosted and accessed online, for attendees to share their work, and to foster a sense of community. We enable the comments function so that young people can feed back to each other, which we've found motivational.

  • Virtual exhibitions are fantastic for students to share their work. You can create them for free on of a young person's online gallery created in Artsteps.
  • Independent study time is key to allow young people to work on their portfolios. We normally host a voluntary drop-in session during this time if anyone has any questions or would like feedback.

  • Encourage young people to document everything and take lots of screenshots so that they have enough evidence for their portfolios. We also take a lot of screenshots of group activities and keep a log of any chat messages which show the young people's development.

Looking forward

We're continuing to deliver online Bronze programmes and have expanded this to also include Discover. Feedback from young people has been fantastic with many preferring an online platform as it eliminates barriers like travel in rural areas.

Find out more about UCA's Arts Award provision on their website.

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