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Arts Award five years on and growing fast!

Five years on from its launch, Arts Award, the national qualification that develops young people aged 11-25 as artists and arts leaders, has reasons to celebrate. Over 25,000 young people have achieved awards and 2,500 centres have registered to run the qualification. And the good news is that Arts Award is growing quickly within non-formal learning and community arts works – as well as gaining credibility in schools and higher education.

Co Lab Arts, Shoreditch Festival 2009 © Richard Eaton

What is Arts Award? Arts Award is run through a partnership between Arts Council England and Trinity Guildhall. It sits on the National Qualifications Framework, accredited at levels 1, 2 and 3. Arts Award recognises young people’s development through the arts rather than accrediting specific art form skills. It encourages high levels of achievement both in creative projects and leadership work, as well as building transferable skills which help prepare young people for further education and employment.

Any organisation that runs arts activities with young people can register as a centre by linking with a trained adviser or by training their own staff as advisers. Advisers are key to young people’s success, acting as mentors and assessors.

> Arts Award is an accredited qualification at three levels (Bronze, Silver and Gold) offered at Levels 1, 2 and 3 on the English National Qualifications Framework (NQF) and is open to all young people aged 11 – 25.

> Launched in 2005, the Arts Award is run though a collaboration between Arts Council England and Trinity Guildhall.

> Young people work with a trained Arts Award adviser who supports them to achieve their aspirations. The adviser will usually be a professional artist, teacher or youth worker.

> Young people take part in the award at an Arts Award centre. Any organisation which supports young people’s arts activities can register to be a centre e.g. schools, arts organisations, youth groups, young offender programmes, community projects.

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And what young people say… Emrys Green (19) ‘I have found the Gold Arts Award invaluable to my development as a young artist moving into the professional world. The drive it gave me to seek and access opportunities allowed me to enjoy the arts in a new dimension and meet many new people countrywide.’

Emrys achieved his Gold Award while playing a key role within the Young People’s Participatory Theatre project and the two programmes confirmed his commitment to working in participatory arts. Emrys set up his own theatre services company, and is now an Associate Trainer for Participation Works and has trained as an Arts Award adviser so he can help other young people to gain the award.

As Emrys’ story shows, Arts Award provides structure and focus for young people’s learning and helps them to recognise when they have made steps towards their development and to find a clear path towards the career they wish to pursue.

Gloria achieved her Silver Arts Award as part of the Plymouth Barbican Theatre’s Collective Voices project, a multicultural group of young people who use the arts to make their voice heard. As part of her award she project managed a successful multi- faith exhibition project performed in a Malaysian cultural festival. Gloria contracted the artist, co-ordinated the involvement of different faith groups and organised a flyer design for the project. She also helped to organise and run workshops for primary school children who visited the exhibition, explored the themes and met people from different faiths.

Gloria used Arts Award to increase her communication skills and self- confidence in leading her own work and has gone on to complete teacher training. She now plans to lead her own youth arts project in the future.

How can Arts Award help community arts organisations? For arts, community and media organisations Arts Award helps

develop a quality-assured and structured approach to their work with young people. Arts Award complements skills-based qualifications for talented young artists and offers an alternative accreditation for those working outside an established art form. Young people can work towards an award in any art form from visual arts to carnival to break dance to rock music.

Every young person doing an Arts Award attends and reviews arts events and works closely with arts professionals. Getting involved as audience members, volunteers and practitioners opens their eyes to creative opportunities and career pathways.

Arts Award Welcome! To support young people on their creative journeys and to help them find out about arts opportunities on offer in their area Arts Award has introduced a badge scheme called Arts Award Welcome.

125 organisations across England have been ‘badged’ Arts Award Welcome, with many more applying regularly. To apply for the badge organisations must design a special Arts Award offer which is promoted to young people working towards an award and the community of advisers who support them. Offers can include workshops, events, resources, access to artists and arts professionals.

Brighton Dome, Norwich Playhouse, York Theatre Royal and Wolverhampton Grand Theatre and many other theatre venues offer post-show discussions, behind the scenes experiences, and placements as well as discount tickets. Geese Theatre Company offers drama workshops for young offender institutions and youth offending teams. Sound It Out offers young people the opportunity to shadow a professional musician, mentor other young musicians and volunteer in their office. These are just a taste of what is on offer to young people working towards Arts Award. a

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