Blog: 8 September 2016 - Developing Plans for Arts Award

08 September 2016

Developing Plans for Arts Award

By Eileen Atkins, CBNE Area Manager for Tees Valley & County Durham

Arts Award is a unique qualification in many respects. There are no entry level requirements, no time limit for completing the award, and no set rules on how to present final work as long as each of the criteria are met. It can sit alongside and complement work already being carried out in schools and other settings or it can be a way for young people to get recognition for something they do independently. The definition of art forms and art organisations that can count towards Arts Award is vast and can also include activities like curating, behind-the-scenes work and event management.

Because of the flexible nature of Arts Award it can be delivered in lots of different ways. I have been involved directly as an adviser and through bridge work for a few years now. In my experience, the longer you leave it between doing your adviser training and doing your first Arts Award delivery, the more daunting it can become.

Arts Award is a recognised accredited qualification from an international examinations board, the cost of Arts Award reflects this. The adviser training is a one off cost and it does not need to be renewed. Arts Award Advisers are qualified to take young people up to the moderation stage and at Discover level, their sign off is the last stage, so receiving correct and recognised training to do that is important. Once you have done the training there are multiple ways of accessing free guidance and support. At Culture Bridge North East, we run CPD sessions around topics advisers have told us they would like extra support in, we run initiatives and projects they can get involved in and we also hold an annual Arts Award conference. Trinity College London fund regional Arts Award Support Surgeries for advisers, you can phone them for one-to-one support and they have a comprehensive adviser hub section on their website.

You can use Arts Award to enhance existing workshops, activities, courses, and work experience opportunities as well as one off projects or new initiatives. You can deliver it intensively over a short period of time like a summer school, an off-time table week or a family fun day or you can stretch it out if you see the young people less frequently. You can also choose to involve different practitioners in the delivery and utilise your local arts and cultural organisations' expertise you already have on your staff teams and resources you have to hand. Trinity College run the Arts Award Access Fund too which is worth looking at for additional funding.

It can be time intensive, both for the advisers and the young people involved. The best advice for this is to go into it with eyes open. Base the Arts Award level you are going to work towards on the timescales you know you can manage. Work backwards from when you would ideally like the moderation to be completed and remember it can take up to eight weeks between booking the moderation to the day itself at Bronze, Silver and Gold level. Particularly at the higher levels, plan out the timescale with the young people right from the start so you can identify mile stones, check-in points and fit it around their other commitments as well as yours.

There are guided learning hours for each level, time that the young person will have access to support and guidance. At every level the guided learning hours given are ‘recommended’ so if you are able to work with them more intensely over a shorter period of time that may reduce, if you have a long term project or the individuals you are working with require more support it could increase. I have seen Discover delivered in a quality way in a day but it is good to have space to do it over a few days.

Explain the Arts Award process to people you will be working with, don’t think you have to do it alone. You don’t have to be the all singing all dancing practitioner and the activity provider as well as the adviser. You can work alongside other colleagues and professionals and the young people can do independent learning too. If you are a cultural organisation working with a school, some of the delivery could happen in the classroom with the teacher pre and post visit. If you are a school using a cultural organisation, let them know you are doing Arts Award as they may be able to support you in other ways. Gather evidence as you go along and encourage other people involved to do the same, have a camera handy to capture moments of activity and video and audio recordings can also be useful. You can buddy up with another adviser to share out the time commitment, this works well if you are working across more than one organisation or school. If you don’t have a trained adviser on staff, find a partner organisation that does or a practitioner who is trained. If you are working with a small group, see if another centre wants to do a joint moderation to share costs.

Check out our events page for local Arts Award events and CPD opportunities, we are always happy to talk through ideas and offer advice and support where we can so get in touch anytime.