Becoming an Artsmark Supporter

Lifelong Learning Manager Kate reveals her team’s Artsmark journey to help inspire and empower the next generation!

Can I tell you a story? Are you sitting comfortably, then let’s begin…
In this situation, most people have an expectation of what will follow next. There will be a story set out and told to an expectant audience. But what if the storyteller said ‘I haven’t written the story yet, would like to help me?’ Would that be exciting, or unnerving? Would it walk the fine line between the two?

Becoming an Artsmark Supporter

Earlier this year, Leeds Museums and Galleries was selected by Arts Council England to take part in a pilot project for becoming an Artsmark Supporter. Artsmark is a quality standard for schools who inspire young people through arts and culture. By giving children access to their cultural heritage through every classroom, we build fully rounded young people who are prepared for life, have creative problem-solving skills and artistic outlets and broad horizons. We build a creative society, and we build the audiences and the professionals of the future.
Our Artsmark Supporter journey has been rather like an unwritten story: an expectation altered and a shared journey. Our role in the pilot was to test what kind of support the schools would need through the two years of the Artsmark process. 
The schools we worked initially said a tiered approach of low, medium and high support packages would work on paper. It’s an easily explainable and promotable and would attract them to make an initial contact with an arts organisation. However, as one teacher said, “I just want someone to talk it through with, can you help?” The answer was, “of course!”

Museums + Schools = creativity

We found we both wanted a mutually beneficial ‘phone a friend’ relationship, where schools get the benefit of a friendly, quality assured, better-than-Google option for sourcing arts engagements and seeking best practice, and we get the opinions of a set of schools and a way into what formal education is thinking and feeling right now to help our wider programmes.
The first stage of the Artsmark process is for the schools to write their plan for what they want to do, called the Statement of Commitment. We helped the schools write the Statements and found we could gently question and challenge their definition of arts and culture (visual art is not just drawing!) and give the Statement robust artistic best practice.

We wanted to encourage experimentation and expression and the best way to do this is to give Heads and Arts Co-ordinators better information and confidence at using artistic processes.

But, writing the Statements of Commitment is just the start of the two year journey, so where the story will end, who knows? Shall we go on the journey together?

Watch this space for further updates on Artsmark and posts from the Learning Team!

By Kate Fellows, Lifelong Learning Manager, Leeds Museums and Galleries

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