Arts Award Success!

Our Arts Award Administrator talks about our recent Arts Award success!

When I started back working at The Drum Arts Centre as an Arts Award Advisor working for Work in Progress, I found that Arts Award was not very popular. In fact, we often only had one young person attend the sessions that were scheduled for a Saturday daytime running alongside drama, dance and photography sessions at YGB. This was almost a year ago now. A few months into my new role at the Drum and I had managed to raise the profile of the Arts Award a bit by talking to young people, tutors, and parents about the accredited scheme. More and more young people would show up at Arts Award sessions and were interested to hear about what it was all about. But then they would disappear when sessions began taking place upstairs or in other areas of the venue.

In August 2014, the Drum Arts Centre held a Summer School which included Arts Award provision. This was my first real experience of the Arts Award in a very compact and intensive set-up. Previously, I had assisted Ruth with Arts Award delivery and it was always an hour or two a week and felt quite relaxed. With the Summer School, Arts Award was offered for about 3 hours a day! 1 hour before sessions, and two hours after sessions. I had carefully planned out activities including games and workshops with a bit of Arts Award writing. All of the young people were set on Explore level. However, it began very evident that the young people were tired and did not wish to do written work in the morning sessions, so they became more focused on playing games to wake everybody up. We would briefly discuss Arts Award but not do any written work. I planned to do the written portfolios in the evening hours. However, young people were quite tired after the long days and were not as focused and productive as was hoped. So the Arts Award sessions became more about reflecting on the day inclusive of the sessions they had been involved with. This wasn’t so much of a problem as reflection is a massive part of the Arts Award. However, by the end of the Summer School, very few people had actually completed their work and so their folders would be kept until we worked together in the future.

But it wasn’t so bad. In fact, through the Summer School Arts Award, young people had began talking to each other about the Arts Award and it became increasingly popular. More and more young people turned up to Arts Award sessions on Saturdays and enquired about the scheme. I started young people on Explore level (which is the second level) and encouraged them to get involved. By the end of the year, I was seeing up to fifteen young people regularly at the Arts Award club and it was part of the routine at the Drum. With it’s growth, Elishah came on board to help out and Arts Award was offered during the week. Although the weekday evening sessions were not so popular, it gave Elishah and I some quality time together to look through the portfolios to discuss what was missing and next steps.

Meanwhile, there was another Arts Award Club taking place. Work in Progress (WiP) had another Arts Award club that ran alongside the Arts Award Club at the Drum, based at the office in Northfield. There was a project that WiP was a partner on called Our Style. Our Style saw a group of 7 young leaders lead a project which focused on upstyling recycled clothing based on the fashions of the Northfield Constituency. This project formed the leadership project for the Arts Award Club held at WiP Headquarters. 5 young leaders chose to work at Gold level, and one at Silver level. Arts Award was also offered to the young participants and so Gary came on board to help out and get them through Bronze level. Only 5 young participants opted for Arts Award, and only two completed. However, the two that did complete saw the Arts Award through and produced lovely portfolios.

Elishah left the Drum for pastures new and I continued the Arts Award Club at The Drum alone. Without much of a sense of time, young people sailed through slowly. Soon, portfolios at Explore level were becoming close to completion and young people began to work at different levels. This started to get a little tricky as the different levels require different amounts of work and different skills and levels of reflection. So Alex came on board.

A date was agreed for moderation. The D-Day would be the 9th May 2015.

Suddenly, there was a target. There was a mission to get portfolios ready for submission. Both Arts Award Clubs would aim for this important date. At all levels. There was an increase in a sense of urgency as the day drew near. Young people at all levels worked hard with Gary, Alex and myself to tie up loose ends and get things finished. Papers flew into portfolios and cutting and sticking marathons took place to get done. I would spend my Thursdays at the Drum looking through portfolios, collecting and printing evidence, and writing notes for missing sections. Thursdays became essential- fun and necessary.

4 Discovers, 16 Explores, 6 Bronzes, 3 Silvers, and 5 Golds. 34 candidates in total. Working at all levels.

We submitted the names and sent off the portfolios for Discover and Explore. Moderation Day came on 9th May for the Bronze, Silver and Gold candidates… 6 Bronzes submitted, 6 Bronzes passed. 3 Silvers submitted, 3 Silvers passed. 5 Golds submitted, 5 Golds passed. An email was received from Trinity College London on 13th May- 4 Discovers submitted, 4 Discovers passed. 16 Explores submitted, 16 Explores passed. So that means that 34 Arts Award candidates were successful in achieving their awards at all 5 levels! Very exciting!

The best thing about Arts Award from an Adviser’s point of view is seeing the young people go on a journey of personal and professional development. Seeing young people go from shy, withdrawn participants to confident leaders. Seeing young people start a piece of work and complete it, reflecting on their own practice all the way through. Being an adviser is great. It sometimes gets a bit stressful, but what job doesn’t? Being an adviser fills you with pride when you see young people complete, and achieve an arts award at whatever level.

We did good. Arts Award rocks. Here is to the next cohort- who have already started! The job of an Arts Award Adviser never ends. There are always more young people who are ready and willing to begin their journey of discovery to become an artist in their own right. All I can say is- bring it on!

Here are some quotes from the successful candidates…

“I’m so happy and proud and have been able to know that I can achieve more than A Levels and Degrees etc it’s opened my eyes to completely new things” – Lauren Jones

“I really enjoyed doing my Silver Arts Award. I loved learning a new skill and being able to explore the world of spoken word in Birmingham. I would like to thank Vicki and Gary for being amazing Arts Award Advisor” – Holly Beaumont-Wilkes

“I highly recommend doing an Arts Award to absolutely everyone. Whether you are interested in the arts or not, this journey will inspire you and help you engage with your hidden talents and creativity. You’ll meet new people and gain so much knowledge! I’m so glad I did my Gold Arts Award and would like to thank Vicki and Gary for all of their mentoring and patience” – Navi Kaur

Vicki, Arts Award Administrator