Blog: Artsmark Partnerships – ‘Playing out Together’

10 October 2018

Artsmark Partnerships – ‘Playing out Together’

By Helen Green, Children and Young Peoples Lead, Live Theatre

Most nights there is a knock on the door or a yell from the back yard; children from up the street asking if my children ‘want to play out’. *Sigh of relief – can crack on with the tea.

This concept of ‘playing out’ resonates with a piece of work Live Theatre, Baltic and Sage Gateshead are currently developing together. This happened almost accidentally. All three organsations have recently become Artsmark Partners and in parallel all three organisations were involved in the Great Exhibition of the North. Looking at these two things, Artsmark Partners and Great Exhibition we found ourselves wondering what could the three organisations do as a combined offer on the quayside for Artsmark Schools?

We decided we would ‘play out together’, do a test project, create a free Artsmark offer that combines the unique work of Baltic, Live Theatre and Sage Gateshead to enhance the cultural and creative experience for Artsmark schools. Over the course of a year we are working with eight schools currently on their Artsmark journey to understand their relationship with the Artsmark process and how three organisations geographically linked together can offer an enhanced experience for schools.

At the beginning of the summer term Culture Bridge North East put a call out to new Artsmark schools to see if there was interest in getting involved. The three cultural organisations and the Headteachers/SMT met for a scoping session. This session explored thematic connections across the 8 individual Artsmark plans – asking schools how they might benefit from a combined offer between Sage Gateshead, Baltic and Live Theatre.

It is important to highlight that the three cultural orgniastions involved are NOT generating new offers / programmes / products for this pilot project. This was a conscious decision from the outset, acknowledging that resources, both fiscal and human are stretched, and the schools work developed as individual cultural organisations serves a broader market beyond Artsmark. This does however present us with an opportunity to put it all in a pot and stir it up, an exciting prospect.

The other thing to acknowledge is that the artistic focus of our three organisations Music (Sage Gateshead) Art (Baltic) and Creative Writing (Live Theatre/Live Tales) are all subjects that remain in the curriculum…just…

Thus far one of the most exciting outcomes of this work by far, has been the opportunity to consider and co-curate a cultural offer with exceptionally knowledgeable and skilled education specialists. They are fighting for their children to have access to the best arts and culture offer available. ‘Playing out’ with them has been and continues to be incredibly rewarding.

Over the summer, staff at Sage Gateshead, Baltic and Live Theatre have taken the teacher's ideas, and worked these up considering how our current individual offers can be re-hashed or glued together or turned inside out in order to deliver for these Artsmark schools.

This has resulted in ‘Nooks & Crannies’ a programme of work that will be delivered between January and July 2019 to support these eight schools on their Artsmark journey. It includes a combined CPD programme, school trips which will visit all three cultural venues during the day, distinctive venues but thematically connected and a programme of work to continue to develop back in school.

If this works (and it might not) – it is our intention to do this again and make this offer available to other schools involved in Artsmark. And it’s okay if it doesn’t work. That’s because all of us, even though still in the relatively early stages of this work, have benefited from knocking on the door and playing out together.