Blog: Arts Award and family learning - Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

29 July 2017

Blog: Arts Award and Family Learning - Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

Arts Award and Family Learning – Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

By Clare Smith, Learning Programmes Manager

“Help people determine their place in the world and define identities, so enhancing their self-respect and their respect for others.”  

Reflecting our mission statement is at the heart of our Arts Award programmes. This is the intent to encourage young people not only to engage with arts and culture, but to also discover and explore their own individuality. 

Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums nine venues which comprise museums and galleries, along with the historical archive; each have their own identity. These provide a rich resource to inspire research and creativity for Arts Award, from Discover, all the way to Gold. The programmes we’ve developed for Arts Award aim to provide an engaging experience that enables the young person to explore the objects and collections they’re most interested in, and respond in unique ways.

Our programmes for young people provide the opportunity for personal development through Arts Award. The Laing Art Galleries programme for Arts Award includes a summer Art School for teens and pre-teens, as well as an Art Academy for seven to 10-year-olds.  Young people participating in these activities can complete a Bronze or Explore level Arts Award. Working with an artist over the course of the week, and exploring collections, participants are encouraged to interpret the work through their own creations. Building Arts Award into our existing programmes has become a core part of our planning processes.

After-school activity provides young people with the time to develop their interests with their friends, and we‘ve been working with a number of after school Art Clubs in primary schools to deliver Arts Award programmes. The Shipley Art Gallery and the Discovery Museum have both been involved in this area of work; the staff involved have highlighted the increased involvement of parents and carers during the projects. The children are set tasks to work on at home, providing greater opportunities for families to get involved, and in most cases families have really supported the programme. These programmes raise awareness of local museums and galleries for children and parents alike, and seem to have encouraged visits by some families after the project has finished.

An Award for the whole family

We see Arts Award as a real opportunity, not just to develop our programme , but to engage with the families that visit us. The need to move beyond the museum or gallery-led sessions raised a question back in 2015, ‘How do we get our family audiences participating in Arts Award while visiting our venues?’ 

Our research into developing our Arts Award for families, led us to look at the work of Oxford Museums in creating an Arts Award logbook for families. Here was a model through which families were encouraged to visit multiple venues, discover art forms and artists, and participate in a longer term engagement with their service through activities being delivered to families. Our development of the Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums Discover Arts Award Booklet began here. Our booklet is available for purchase in every venue shop across our service. It guides visitors through their journey into the appreciation of, and participation in art, encouraging them to visit our museums and galleries to discover new art forms, and take part in fun activities that will help them complete their log book.

The bigger picture

There’s a bigger picture. All venues, when planning their family activities, must think about whether children will be able to complete the assessment criteria needed for their Discover Arts Award by taking part in the activity. Museums and galleries offer such a wealth of activities to get involved with, particularly during school holidays, much of which could support children to achieve their family arts award. These are promoted through our website to encourage families to explore a variety of venues in achieving their Arts Award. A group of young carers worked with the Great North Museum: Hancock to complete their Discover Arts Awards. They not only enjoyed their chosen activity, but received acknowledgement for themselves too. The booklets have also given our learning staff an additional, structured resource to draw upon. 

A reward in itself

So it isn’t that we ‘think’ Arts Award is important; it IS important. The fact that skills young people gain taking part in things they enjoy can be officially recognised, not just by us, but by family and friends, schools, universities and even employers, as being transferable to other areas of life and study (even at Discover level), is powerful. Being able to see a child show adults their work with such enthusiasm and pride is very special.  

If you’re planning your Arts Award family offer, know before you even start that you’re giving a young person the opportunity to be an individual, making their own choice outside school or their home environment. No matter what level they complete, their place in the world of arts and culture will become more grounded in their deeper understanding, their ability to identify their own likes or dislikes, and they’ll learn to respect the opinions and views of others in shaping their identity.