Blog: Your Arts Award questions - answered and animated

21 August 2017

Blog: Your Arts Award questions - answered and animated

Throughout the Arts Award support programme, a few questions have cropped up more than once. We’re keen to share these, and our responses with you.  So Elizabeth Kane, Learning Officer at The Customs House, will now share the story of how our Animated Experts project aimed to do just that.

How to create a resource to answer your Arts Award questions

When planning this year’s Arts Award support programme, we wanted young people to contribute in a meaningful way. We decided to work with a group of looked after children, some of whom have completed Arts Award with The Customs House, to create an animation that answered common questions we receive from Advisers.

I recruited the young animators from South Tyneside Fostering Services, and appointed artist Lesley-Anne Rose to lead the project. Lesley-Anne, who is also an arts educator, works across photography, animation and sculpture, and has a special interest in stop-motion animation and model making.

As a first step, Lesley-Anne and I talked through the skeleton script. Animation is a time consuming process, so we worked out what would be possible in five sessions over the summer holidays. I picked questions that had been raised more than once, that are relevant to a range of contexts. We wanted the film to be useful whether Advisers were new or perhaps hadn’t delivered a project in some time.

The young animators were each given a draft script and I explained the brief. The team was happy the film would help others learn about Arts Award. One young animator said: “Arts Award is like an award for doing art and knowing what you’re good at. I like being imaginative. It lets you find out things about people, artists, and different places.”

We talked about the different places where people lead Arts Award projects, like schools, heritage sites, libraries, museums, schools and youth groups. The children were ready to take up the challenge.

The process

The children first created their animated characters (experts): Cloud Head, Diamie, Vampy, Glamour Face, Octopus and Sprite, as well as some props they’d use. The team then took turns recording extracts from the script, using software to view the shapes the mouth makes to create different sounds. This let the children draw and animate their chosen characters’ lip shapes quite accurately. Animation would be a great tool for helping children with speech development.

There was some tricky language to tackle. Some of the answers were tweaked into child friendly language. One particularly challenging phrase that we kept unchanged was ‘Certified and moderated by Trinity College’. This sparked a conversation and we talked about how this means you get a certificate after your work is checked. We couldn’t lip sync every character due to time constraints, but we’re pleased children had the opportunity to try something that’s used in the industry.

By the third session, our young animators were operating the camera and laptop independently. We ran this session in the Executive Director’s Office as the production team needed quiet for such an important job. We’d been working in the Upper Fusion Gallery, where Angie Effard from the fostering service paid us an unexpected visit. We sat together as the children got on with their project, guided by Lesley-Anne. Everyone was impressed by their excellent communication skills and teamwork.

We have two sessions to complete the film before Lesley-Anne and I carry out some post production. James Nicholson, a local musician, also volunteered to create an original piece of music inspired by Arts Award, which you can hear at

Project outcomes

Our young animators are doing a fantastic job bringing your questions and answers to life. As an Adviser I’ve found it really interesting to explain the process from my perspective to the children, and decipher some of the ‘official’ language.

One animator was interested in Trinity College’s role as an Awarding Body; there was quite a role play about working at Trinity and taking phone calls on paper mobiles! I’ve always found the helpline just as friendly and informative as our role play session was.

At the moment we’re deciding how best to share this with you all. When the film is complete, we’ll put together an informal presentation event at The Customs House, although the film will be made available online.

To find out more about Lesley-Anne, visit

A reminder

The Learning and Participation Team at The Customs House leads the Culture Bridge North East Arts Award support programme. Learning and Participation Manager Fiona, and Elizabeth, have enjoyed hearing about people’s Arts Award experiences, all the way from Discover to Gold, across a wide range of contexts.

Remember, you can share your Arts Award Experience using our Wow templates. We created these PowerPoint templates with you in mind, so we trust you’ll find them easy to fill in and showcase your work with children and young people. We know there’s fantastic Arts Award work happening across the region and we need to share these stories nationally. Email the completed document to

·         WOW case study template

·         Case study example

And if your question isn't answered by our ‘Animated Experts’ film when it's finished, visit, or call the Arts Award help desk on 020 7820 6178, between Monday and Friday, 09:00 to 17:00.