Develop your learning offer with Arts Award

Arts Award offers unique nationally recognised qualifications that support children and young people to grow as artists and arts leaders, inspiring them to connect to and take part in the arts and cultural world. Although it’s called `Arts’ Award, the flexible framework develops young people’s art form knowledge so can be offered by any organisation that has arts, cultural or media activities as part of its offer – and a growing number of museums and heritage organisations are getting involved. Arts Award is managed by Trinity College London in association with Arts Council England working with 10 regional Bridge organisations.

‘Arts Award offers great opportunities to museums, as through it young people get the chance to explore and enjoy the richness of museum collections. As museums we are uniquely placed to use this award to the full.’ Melissa Hawker, Learning Officer, Ancient House

Museums are perfectly placed to embed Arts Award: where else will you find such an inspiring range of creative work from across the world, made by craftspeople whose names are forgotten as well as designers and artists known across the world? The stories behind museum objects and historic buildings also lend themselves to a wide range of creative activities: drama, storytelling, drawing, writing….

‘Arts Award has brought a new audience into the museum. We picked up ideas for workshops, and it encouraged us to think about how our collection can be a great arts resource.’ Tegan Bennett, Learning and Engagement Officer, Kingston Museum and Heritage Service

Arts Award is available at five levels, four of which (Explore, Bronze, Silver and Gold) are accredited. The introductory level Arts Award Discover is designed for ages 5 upwards. Through Arts Award Discover, children find out just how much just how much the word `art’ encompasses and how it’s part of their everyday world. It encourages children and young people to try out creative activities, find out about artists and makers behind art works, objects and buildings, and share what they’ve done, logging their creative journey along the way in any format – from drawing to photography.

‘My favourite part was going around the museum and spotting all the different art forms. Sometimes there are lots in one object. I also learnt a new art form – architecture – it is everywhere!’ – Arts Award Discover participant, aged 8, at Ancient House Museum of Thetford Life

You don’t have to have an arts based collection to offer Arts Award: Essex Police Museum recently ran a very successful Arts Award Explore project that used objects from their unique collections, including a death mask, hand-cuffs and photo-fit image archives, as the starting point for a variety of arts activities. The museum also made full use of the creative skills of staff, enlisting outside work interests from illustration to drama!

Young people at the British Museum with adviser Shauna-Aine O’Brien during Camden Summer University’s Bronze Arts Award
Young people at the British Museum with their adviser during Camden Summer University’s Bronze Arts Award

Each level of Arts Award builds on the base of developing creative skills, research into and response to the art and cultural world, sharing skills and, at Silver and Gold, leading projects. As well as gaining art form knowledge children and young people develop their communication, creativity and leadership skills.

Arts Award Explore, Bronze, Silver and Gold are accredited on the Qualifications Credit Framework. Young people don’t have to complete one level before moving on the next and can start at whichever level suits their age and skills – or the activities and opportunities your museum already offers.

`Give it a go! Discover is not difficult to achieve and can be worked around existing work and projects quite easily and can be delivered without spending a lot of extra time on it.’ – Kay Topping, Haslemere Educational Museum

Why should we get involved?

If your museum has a school, family or outreach programme the chances are you already offer activities that fit with Arts Award! Arts Award is a framework rather than a curriculum, and what you offer within that framework can be decided based on the resources and opportunities you have available.

Students from Thomas Estley Community College visiting the Pitt Rivers Museum for inspiration for their Bronze Arts Awards
Students from Thomas Estley Community College visiting the Pitt Rivers Museum for inspiration for their Bronze Arts Awards

Arts Award brings in new visitors: museums that have worked in partnership with other organisations, such as youth services, have found that once children and young people have taken part in activities at a museum they return with family and friends.

Working with young people brings in new voices and ideas that can help you build on existing work or kick-start something new. Running Arts Award is rewarding, both for young people who get new skills, a qualification and a certificate; and for museums, who can use it to show the impact of their work.

How can we get started?

There are two ways to get involved in Arts Award: becoming a centre and Supporter.

To become a centre and offer Arts Award a member of staff or volunteer needs to train as an Arts Award adviser. You can decide which levels of Arts Award suit your audience best, and there are several training options available: half-day Discover and Explore adviser training, and full-day Bronze and Silver adviser training. If you have completed Bronze and Silver adviser training, you can book onto a Gold Arts Award course. Public training courses take place throughout the year across England and will be available in Scotland later this year. Another option if you work closely with other museums, libraries or schools is to book in-house training, where the trainer comes to you and tailors the training to delivery in your organisations. For more information and costs click here.

Children doing Arts Award Discover at The Holburne Museum studying a cabinet of curiosities
Children doing Arts Award Discover at The Holburne Museum studying a cabinet of curiosities

Once you have an adviser you can register as an Arts Award centre and get started! There’s support and advice available on the Arts Award website and from regional Bridge organisations.

If your museum doesn’t have the capacity to run Arts Award but you have activities and opportunities that children and young people could use for Arts Awards they are doing elsewhere you can becomes an Arts Award Supporter, Becoming a Supporter is free and all you need to do is register, with a brief summary of your Arts Award offer.

You can find out more about how your education and outreach activities fit with Arts Award here.

‘I’ve enjoyed working with the museums and looking at ways both museums and artists can work collectively to highlight different collections and get young people connected to history, making and being open to looking at the world a little differently.’ – Amy Pennington, project artist for partnership project between Orleans House Gallery, Fulham Palace, Kingston Museums London Transport Museum and PM House and Gallery.