Arts Award Case Study: BFMAF

13 October 2022

BFMAF and Arts Award

Hello, I’m Chloë and I’m the Communities Programme Coordinator for Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival (BFMAF) based in Berwick-upon-Tweed. I’ve been working as a freelancer for the festival since 2016, and I’ve worked in this particular role since 2019. As part of my role, I coordinate and often facilitate our work with children and young people, and this includes delivering Arts Award Discover.

To deliver our Arts Award Programme, we work in two phases. The first phase, which extends beyond the pupils doing Arts Award, is that I curate a film programme for local children which is shown either in person at The Maltings, or through a private online screening platform. Alongside the films, I create worksheets to accompany the films that can be completed back in class.

The second phase, which is just for those doing Arts Award, is that we work with South Shields based animator Robin Webb who runs a fantastic one day stop motion animation workshop in schools. I go into schools with Robin, partly to observe the children, but mostly because Robin’s workshop is just so brilliant that I want to join in. The children interview Robin about his life and work as an artist, and we record these answers.

A week or so after Robin has been in school, I go back into the class with the Arts Award logbooks, and the children and I work through the questions together. We discuss the wide variety of creative disciplines that being an artist covers, their workshop with Robin, and I introduce them to the life and work of another artist (most recently Yayoi Kusama). 

I used to leave the logbooks with the schools, but found that it was much more effective and easier for the teachers if I returned to school and went through the books with the children. This ensures that I fully cover all the areas, and it also adds to the children’s experience of taking part in Arts Award.

We usually deliver Arts Award to children in Year 3 and Year 4, and last year we worked with two classes in two different schools, with 63 children completing Discover. I find that this level works well for us. It allows us to focus on the activities we are providing, without too much admin.

Our work with children and young people is really important to us as an organisation, especially in a town where access to cultural activities is limited, and Arts Award is a key part of our programme. It allows us to work in a targeted way with the children and spend time in the classroom with them. We get consistently strong feedback from both the children and teachers about the workshops with Robin, and the children are always so proud when they receive their certificates. 

During COVID, our work with children and young people all moved online, and whilst this allowed us to engage with a wider range of participants, I found that I really missed the depth of engagement that we experience with in person work, and I was particularly pleased when we could return to this way of working. 

Overall our experience of Arts Award Discover is a positive one; it allows us to facilitate high quality workshops that we offer to schools for free, it reminds children of the range of activities that make up the arts, it provides information on the cultural spaces in the area, the pupils learn about an artist that is new to them, and it allows them to reflect on creative work they themselves have taken part in. Most importantly, it creates an environment for them to realise that the work they’ve taken part in and made is something to be proud of. 

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