mailout arts and youth justice 13
Summer arts colleges
Over the past five years a national arts initiative has quietly been developing significant momentum within the youth justice system. Growing out of the strategic partnership between Arts Council England and the Youth Justice Board, the Summer Arts College programme has to date worked with nearly 900 young people, providing them with the opportunity to work with a unique combination of artists and youth justice practitioners. Starting small (in the pilot year there were only a handful of Colleges) the success of the programme has meant that this year funding has been secured for over fifty projects across England and Wales, creating a real demand for quality participatory artists. The scheme is co-ordinated by Unitas, a national charity that helps young people access, participate and progress in mainstream education and training.
Summer Arts Colleges are intensive arts based educational projects designed for young people between fourteen and nineteen years of age who are on high tariff sentences &#x2013; Detention and Training Orders (DTOs) and Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Programmes (ISSPs). Many have difficulties with literacy and numeracy and most have experienced detachment from mainstream education and training. At times they can be a challenging client group who have little interest in the arts; working intensively with
them over a period of several weeks requires patience, focus and real tenacity, but evidence from the last five years shows that the results can be stunning and rewarding for everyone involved.
Responsibility for direct delivery of the Colleges in most cases lies with Youth Offending Teams (YOTs); the YOT then work closely with artists to develop a programme and whilst there is a national specification, each College is unique with its own arts focus, timetable and curriculum. The model demands that each College provides a structured, full-time, arts based programme that combines arts enrichment and arts appreciation activities, and explores possible routes into employment, careers and training within the arts. Inevitably, once arts organisations respond to the College specification they bring with them their own particular approaches, leading to the rich and diverse range of projects that appear under the Summer Arts College banner: Serendipity Arts have worked with Kirklees YOT to develop a short film; the work of the young people on the Tees Valley YOT College was incorporated within a large scale music piece -The River &#x2013; that was performed at the Take to the Tees Festival; Unity Arts in Stoke worked with the YOT on the development of a large scale mural at Port Vale FC&#x2019;s ground and Rolling Sound, working with several YOTs in the London area developed a programme that
Simon Ruding on opportunities for participatory artists to get involved with the youth justice system.
&#x201C;At times they can be a challenging client group who have little interest in the arts; working intensively with them over a period of several weeks requires patience, focus and real tenacity, but evidence from the last five years shows that the results can be stunning and rewarding for everyone involved.&#x201D;
featured computer games design and musical composition. These are but a handful drawn from the 90 Colleges that have run over the last five years, but they serve as examples of how open the model is to creative programming.
Each College has to work with the arts to improve literacy and numeracy skills and to achieve an accreditation through the Arts Award. The model has developed significantly over the last couple of years and last year several Colleges helped a number of young people achieve Silver Awards; consequently this year some Colleges will run for three weeks (with a focus on attaining Bronze Awards), others for six (aiming for Silver Awards).
As the number of Colleges has increased, so has the demand for artists and Unitas have developed an online registration scheme for those wishing to get involved. There will be a large number of projects rolling out this summer and if readers are interested it is important that they register with Unitas, as from 2010 YOTs managing these projects at the local level will only be able to commission those arts practitioners or organisations who are on the Unitas Artists&#x2019; Directory.
Simon Ruding is the Director of TiPP and acts as consultant to Unitas. TiPP have run Summer Arts Colleges in West Manchester and Wrexham.
The Artists&#x2019; Directory will become the primary referral resource for organisations running an Arts College and will help to forge enduring partnerships between these organisations and Artists and Arts Organisations wanting to work in this field. Details can be found at the Unitas website &#x2013; www.unitas.uk.net/ArtistsDirectory
. So if you are interested in becoming involved it is worth having a look at the site and registering your details.a