Inspiring future arts engagement through Arts Award Discover days

This week on the blog, 2015-16 Good Practice Centre Nonsuch Theatre share with you the success they’ve had with delivering Arts Award Discover in just one day…

Background – working in partnership

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Over the past four months, we have delivered over 25 Discover-in-a-day Arts Award experiences with over 600 young people across Nottinghamshire. Working in partnership with our local Bridge Organisation, The Mighty Creatives, we’ve reached out to primary schools and young people from all backgrounds to share a day of joint discovery; experiencing arts and learning exciting skills to develop in the future.

We were thrilled to be invited to further develop our offer, to boost the number of young people across Nottinghamshire engaging in high quality arts experiences and also begin to establish a programme of engagement that could see a young person work with us throughout their whole Arts Award journey from Discover to Gold.

Delivery – themed days

In order to make sure we placed quality at the heart of our Discover programme we decided to theme the days. We had done this previously, but with a larger budget came the chance to be more adventurous and provide more resources for the young people taking part.

We selected the themes of Jungle Adventure and Space Expedition for the days and young people used their discovery of multiple art forms as tools for exploring these environments. They then focussed their exploration on an artist (Henri Rousseau and Roy Lichtenstein respectively) which stimulated a creative task that was shared with friends and family.

Tips for success – preparation

Rawlins_College 046Working intensively with such young artists can often be a challenge. We found that splitting the day up into sections which focussed on the different parts of Arts Award Discover allowed the young people to fully understand what was expected of them and how to complete their Arts Award. By focussing closely on the parts of Arts Award Discover, this helped to build their understanding of how the Awards work and sow the seeds for them to complete their Explore Award.

On a practical level, working with up to 60 children at a time meant that preparation was crucial. We created customised workbooks for the day that provided a clear sense of cohesion for the young people. This is also an easy format for allowing teachers to support students because the context of the day is provided alongside illustrations, games and toolkits to aid memory of the different art forms. Themed pop-up banners helped set the scene quickly and craft tasks such as mask making enabled young people to create their own scenography that can also be kept as a memory on display in their classroom.

What next? Embedding Arts Award…

As we look to the future we are developing our Discover programmes even further by embedding the day within a six-week scheme of work. This will be created in collaboration with teachers to ensure that the day-long Discover experience doesn’t get lost as just a one-off, but instead forms the foundation of an intensive and creative artistic exploration.

We’ll also be growing the number of themes for the day from 2 to 8 and making our resources available for other centres to use and spread the word of Discover-in-a-Day, helping to ensure children all over England get the best arts experiences possible!

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