Oh that's so artsy

Last year as part of our ‘One Mic, One Life’ pilot project we delivered Arts Award Silver Level, working with 8 young people to help us develop, plan and deliver and awareness event for the whole community. Without blowing our own trumpet, after producing a fabulous report we were asked by Arts Award if we could write a blog piece about our experiences delivering the Arts Award and any advice we could offer organisations and advisor planning on delivering them.

Why did you decide to start delivering Arts Award? What levels do you deliver?

In 2017/18 we had four knife and gang related fatalities among young people we worked with. We wanted to start a dialogue with young people and empower them to create, inspire and make their community stronger, that’s at the heart of everything we do.  Working on their Arts Awards Silver together to inspire their peers and deliver a knife and gang awareness event for the whole community.

How did your partnership with Arts Award come about?

We wanted young people to become real leaders and learn and develop skills that could make real changes to their local community. The Access Fund gave us the opportunity to work with local young people to develop fun and exciting workshops designed to engage and prevent them from getting involved in crime. We challenged them to become real social warriors and plan, deliver and review an awareness event, which encompassed everything they learned through their Silver Arts Award.

Talk about your delivery of Arts Award – what do you do for each part?

·Throughout the year we delivered 10 Street Dance workshops which would formed the basis of their Arts Challenge in PART 1 and delivered 12 Mentoring/Leadership, 12 Music Production and 4 IT workshops to help them plan, deliver and review a major event, which formed PART 2 of their Arts Award.

PART 1: Young people learned choreography that formed the final routine, which was performed at the ‘One Mic, One Life’ awareness event.  Apart from learning a new routine young people gained new skills in organising and putting together a dance routine, understanding how themes can influence the final piece and what research is needed to follow a theme.

We used these sessions to have wider discussions about becoming future leaders, being confident and loving their body no matter what their shape or size. They really understood by the end of the 10 week programme that street dancing is about building core strength, balance and trust in the team; with an overall message of being and feeling strong, not just in body, but in mind. Students learned that working in a team can be a force for good and that their voices can be combined if they have a problem or issue. As well as building long lasting friendships, developing new techniques and skills that they will use for the rest of their lives.

What impact has your delivery of Arts Award had on your organisation?

Being able to empower young people, giving them the tools to become real leaders and a force for good has been fundamental to how we continue to work in the heart of local communities. It builds a trust and connection with the local people, who truly have been inspiring and real supporters of the project and our work.  You can’t buy that kind of passion and loyalty; it’s what makes OUR communities stronger. Evangelical, absolutely; but for us empowering young people to plan, deliver and review an awareness event for the whole community, was a phenomenal feat and something we are hugely proud of. Their work has far exceeded the reach we had originally intended and has born a new ‘Web Crime Reporting Portal’; developed and managed by our young people and something we continue to develop further with them to make it Nationwide.  You see the possibilities are endless!

What impact has delivery of Arts Award had on the young people you’ve worked with?

It’s impossible to do this blog without the voices of our wonderful Arts Award students.  I wanted this to be a joint collaboration and I wanted you to get a sense of their passion for their work and a true understanding of the impact their Arts Awards had.

Jasmine: “For me I’m not gonna lie I’m ambitious, but I’m not blind.  I have to live here, so yeah I’m striving for better, but I want to make it better.  I probably stay in my bubble and I’m not really a people person, but I’m smart and funny with an inner confidence that I probably get from seeing mum do it all.  So I was thinking a; it would look good on my CV and b; it would help when I’m applying to uni’s. But I didn’t think I’d actually love it so much, meeting new people blah, blah, but I really enjoyed the work, planning, making bookings, asking for quotes, tasting food!!!! Like everything, I really loved it!

 I’ve been dancing my whole life but there’s life in expressing yourself to music you actually listen to and love. Learning new dance styles and passing that on to someone else as well as performing, which I love; the whole cycle is pretty cool. OMG your side eyeing me (I’m doing the interview), ok now not necessarily that simple, but isn’t that pretty much what we’ve been doing? Well that’s how I see it and that’s what it’s been for me. I like all the different parts and how you actually achieve something at the end of each one. It pushed me as well to think outside the box and I realised that we need more money from government to do more of this work. Now that’s something I’m super pumped about!

Did you experience any challenges in your delivery of Arts Award?

We don’t want you to think it was all a bed a roses.  We were lucky; we had young people who were actively involved in local youth services.  And in a way we still have a way to go in reaching those that aren’t. The subject matter was serious and had serious implications for some of our young people, so there were many challenges.

 If you are planning on delivering a knife or gang related project (I hope you are, we could do with more social warriors), then think how and who you will engage with? Where is the best place to deliver your Arts Award? Stick to neutral venues, close to where young people live or hang out, but not solely on one particular estate.  It goes back to what we were really trying to do, which was bringing all the community together.  You can’t do that if a group of young people won’t go on another ‘turf’.  So chose your locations wisely. Finally make learning fun!  I know it sounds simple but always do something that young people want and love to do.  We chose street dance and planning an event with music, poetry and art, with an overall social message that they could really champion.  Your students should be at the heart of your delivery. 

 Oh and timekeeping, all I will say is be patient!

 Lisa: “Ok I know, I know (giggles) I’m really bad with being on time.  The thing is I didn’t realise how annoying it is for everyone else.  Basically I’m proper selfish, but getting DRAGGED by practically everyone was ****” I had to beep out the word so we’re going with rubbish.

 “So yeah my timekeeping and I’m dyslexic as ****, that was a little embarrassing at first, but Miss you really helped me, didn’t show me up, just took a bit more time with me, I noticed that.  That’s way I would stay after cus I knew you would help me more. It made me feel special Miss. Not like the teacher’s pet, but nice. You know what I mean? Are you still recording? One more thing I never in a million years thought I’d be at college until you told me I could. It’s June and look where I am, started from the bottom and now I’m here!” That’s Drake lyrics if you’re wondering.

For more information about running your own Arts Award contact us directly.

Rasheeda Graham