Arts Award for All #MyArtsAward Week

Published: 5th February 2018

This week is #MyArtsAward Week organised by Culture Bridge North East. To kick things off, Fiona Martin Deputy Director Learning and Participation, shares her experience of Arts Award at The Customs House.

Training as an Adviser and Celebrating Our First Arts Awards

I started at The Customs House in 2008. I immediately completed my Bronze and Silver Arts Award Adviser training. You can find out more about training here. Within a few weeks, I was part of a small team delivering Bronze Arts Award in North and South Tyneside.

Although the young people were in schools or alternative education settings they were identified as potentially becoming NEETs. A NEET is a young person who is no longer in the education system and who is not working or training for work. Some of the group had quite a negative attitude to learning because of their previous experiences. However, eventually they all came on board. The group all achieved their Bronze Arts Award and a lovely celebration event at The Customs House for their families.

Arts Award is for #EveryChild and can change young people’s perception of themselves  #MyArtsAward

Embedding Arts Award in Youth Theatre

This initial experience of delivering Arts Award was really useful. I was asked to start a Youth Theatre here at The Customs House. So, in 2009, the newly formed Customs House Youth Theatre began working on their Bronze Arts Awards. Soon, Arts Award was an intrinsic part of our team’s work, and we began to see the potential of using Arts Award to support young artists’ development. As an organisation The Customs House believe we have a responsibility to give our young people the best opportunities to enjoy and achieve. Gaining an accredited qualification doing something they enjoyed makes perfect sense.

Arts Award is intrinsic to The Customs House Youth Theatre developing young people’s talent  #MyArtsAward

Senior Youth Theatre Members Working Towards Their Arts Award

Senior Youth Theatre Members Working Towards Their Arts Award

We were encouraged by our board members and South Tyneside Council to accredit our work with young people where appropriate. Arts Award helps to transform a positive creative experience (like being part of our Youth Theatre) into a qualification. It raises their aspirations and helps them take their next steps in their education or career.

Arts Award means #Everychild can continue their own arts journey #MyArtsAward

I started to deliver Silver Arts Award in 2011, with a small group of our youth theatre members. Through Arts Award The Customs House were supporting them to develop their creative practice in art forms new to them. These included skills such as stage/special FX make-up, technical theatre, and physical theatre.

For their Unit 2, they made a ‘Zom-Com’ called, ‘Scott of the Dead’, each taking leadership roles (as well as acting as zombies!) to get their film made. At this point, I could see how Arts Award was a transformational process for the young people. Not only did they had learn new arts skills, their determination and self-belief grew and alongside their leadership skills, as they realised, ‘we did that!’

Arts Award is transformational ‘We did that’  #MyArtsAward

In terms of my practice as a facilitator, I was by this point fully sold on Arts Award and it’s benefits (You can see some more here). I started delivering Bronze and Silver Training in 2010, and was part of the regional pilot for Discover and Explore in 2011, before becoming a trainer in 2012 helping others become advisers. Shortly after this I supported a young person to complete a Gold Arts Award. The young person was asked about Arts Award in her interview to do Medicine at University demonstrating its transferable skills are valued across higher education!

Young Leaders Helping Inspire The Next Generation

Since then, our Gold Alumni have become an important part of our work in developing talent. They help lead activites for other young people. They direct, write plays, choreograph movement and physical theatre, and help others improvise. Despite them all working in new art forms and all the skills that the young people have learned, it is fair to say that by being a Gold Adviser I have definitely learned the most; how inspiring, resilient, risk-taking these young artists were and how committed they are to excellent practice.

The positive impacts are evident and the young people who have achieved Gold Arts Award help inspire the next generation as youth arts leaders.  #MyArtsAward

I feel lucky Arts Award has helped me to support so many young people. I have seen the impact it has had on the young people’s arts practice. If anyone has any reservations about doing Arts Award, particularly at Silver and Gold Levels, I would say to just give it a try. Arts Award is truly is a transformative process for you and them.

Get Involved with #MyArtsAward

Be sure to search twitter for #MyArtsAward to find out more and visit Culture Bridge North East news section for more news. The Learning and Participation Team will also be tweeting more about Arts Award this week from @CustomsHouseLP  Got something to share about Arts Award? Join in the conversation.