MaxLiteracy 2018–19

Winners of 2018–19 MaxLiteracy Awards announced: Attenborough Arts Centre, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, Kirkleatham Museum and the Whitworth to host the Awards

The Max Reinhardt Charitable Trust, the National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE), and Engage, the National Association for Gallery Education, are delighted to announce the host venues for the 2018-19 MaxLiteracy Awards.Funded by the Max Reinhardt Charitable Trust, MaxLiteracy is an exciting initiative that develops new ways of teaching creative writing by bringing together writers, schools, galleries, art museums and visual arts venues. Funding from the Awards will allow each of the four venues to employ a creative writer to work with a local school on a creative writing or literacy project, taking inspiration from the venue’s collections, displays or building. 

The activities will lead to the development of a set of new resources for the venues, designed to encourage engagement with the venue through creative writing. These will be widely shared within the arts and education sectors to encourage the greater use of galleries/ art museums/ visual arts venues by schools for creative writing and literacy work. The Awards are run in partnership by Engage, the National Association for Gallery Education and the National Association for Writers in Education (NAWE). 

The four venues chosen have offered ground breaking ideas that provide really stimulating opportunities for children and young people to explore writing in a new environment. We are incredibly excited to be part of their discovery and hope this is the just the start of many wonderful new collaborations between schools and galleries to help more young people discover their own voices

Veronica Reinhardt, Trustee of the Max Reinhardt Charitable Trust

The National Association of Writers in Education is delighted to select these innovative, unique projects with a strong focus on inclusion, mental health, and wellbeing. These writers are experts in their field, and we are delighted to work with all the schools and venues selected.  Previous evaluations have demonstrated that teaching creative writing through the visual arts and historic collections can have a powerful impact on students of all levels and abilities: increased fluency, creativity, confidence and attainment for students across subject boundaries and levels.  This work becomes more vital each year.  NAWE has many members who work with galleries, schools, museums and heritage centres year in year out. We hope the resources and case studies produced by this diverse group of practitioners will be of immense benefit to writers, teachers and gallery educators working in these contexts.

Seraphima Kennedy, Director of NAWE

The MaxLiteracy 2018/19 awardees demonstrate a great depth of ambition through the visual arts and creative writing all of which embed a strong sense of place, the voices of young people and diversity. I am really looking forward to working with the host venues and their partners on such exciting projects and seeing the creative practices and outcomes for young people. 

Ronda Gowland-Pryde, MaxLiteracy Coordinator

Since 2014 Engage has had the privilege of working with galleries, museums, schools and creative writers on MaxLiteracy. The four outstanding hosts for this year’s awards are working with a really diverse range of children and young people on creative writing and literacy projects inspired by the visual arts. We are keen to share the resources and learning they generate through the MaxLiteracy website www.maxliteracy.org to inspire others to use the arts as a stimulus for writing. We are grateful to the Max Reinhardt Charitable Trust for both initiating MaxLiteracy and for their generous support of the programme and to the National Association for Writers in Education for co-delivering the programme with Engage.

Jane Sillis, Director of Engage

Attenborough Arts Centre

Attenborough Arts Centre is the University of Leicester’s arts centre—a venue that is open to everyone, with a studio theatre, art studios, and four purpose-built contemporary art galleries providing the largest gallery in Leicester and one of the largest in the East Midlands area. The Centre produces an all year programme of public events with a focus on exhibitions, music, theatre, dance, comedy and children’s events, with a dedicated Learning and Outreach team who create dynamic programmes to facilitate access to the arts, by creating tailored resources such as sensory suitcases, differentiated session plans for gallery visits, and tactile tours for children with complex needs.

Attenborough Arts Centre will use the Award to explore a dynamic approach to gallery learning for children and young people with the most complex SEND, using contemporary art, augmented communication technology, Makaton and poetry to support pupil’s access to exhibitions, and creative responses, whatever their learning and literacy ability. The venue will work with Ashmount SEN School to develop a new literacy and contemporary art resource for galleries. The project will also include a public exhibition, which will raise awareness of the talents of children and their lived experience of complex learning disabilities and how to support children’s creativity inclusively.

The University of Leicester is delighted to fund the AAC as a valuable community resource. Raising standards of literacy is at the core of our widening participation agenda to ensure we are providing our children with the appropriate skills for their future study and employment, and providing access to culture for all children.


Michaela Butter MBE, Director of the Attenborough Arts Centre

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery attracts around 400,000 visitors a year, with a programme of temporary exhibitions as well as displays of natural history, geology and archaeology; European Old Master paintings; Victorian Art; French Art; Eastern Art, and the Bristol School of Artists. The Formal Learning team runs a comprehensive programme of learning activities, including workshops that are co-created with teachers and aligned to the National Curriculum. Children have the maximum opportunity to engage with the collections, with real or replica artefacts to handle and access to expert knowledge. The team also runs outreach activities such as workshops and assemblies, and a limited loan box scheme for secondary history topics.  

Bristol Museum and Art Gallery plan to develop closer links with local teachers and schools and create and pilot literacy activities suitable for a range of abilities. The intention is to co-create resources with teachers and a professional writer so that all primary schools in the city could potentially benefit from them. The Award will also increase the Formal Learning team’s knowledge and understanding of how literacy is taught in schools. The venue will build on recent successful creative writing workshops that have inspired Bristol Museum and Art Gallery to make literacy the over-arching focus of the venue’s entire learning programme.  

As a teacher I often find the most stimulating learning experiences happen outside of the classroom. Immersing children in different environments is essential to widen their horizons and engage their creativity, something this project clearly puts at the core of its activity. I am delighted that Bristol Museum and Art Gallery has been selected as one of the hosts and that our local schools will have another opportunity to benefit from the excellent work our Museum Learning Team undertake.

Councillor Anna Keen, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills at Bristol City Counci

Kirkleatham Museum

Kirkleatham Museum aims to enable all people to use its buildings and collections for enjoyment, learning and inspiration, with a focus on community. The museum’s collections reflect the diversity of life in the area: from stories of the distant past captured in the unique Saxon Princess burial goods to the Victorian heyday, from the industrial strength and decline to farming and rural life. Visual art is also represented in the collections with a regular programme of temporary art exhibitions. The museum currently runs popular programmes for schools and for families, making use of both permanent and temporary exhibitions as well as the wider museum site.  

The MaxLiteracy Award will give the Kirkleatham education team the opportunity to access a new and hard to reach audience; bringing new visitors to the museum and widening access to the museum’s collection. The museum is already working in partnership with Teeside University to research and develop the Steel Stories exhibition, which documents the rise and fall of the borough’s major employer. Local students will develop skills in writing accurately, fluently, effectively and at length through writing scripts for new audio resources that will be used in Steel Stories – making use of photos, paintings and objects to stimulate questions about the steel industry and local community – leading to interviews and the creation of stories, poems, descriptive writing and re-telling of local histories   

Learning shouldn’t be limited to the classroom. True creativity takes place when we’re inspired and by engaging young people in projects at Kirkleatham Museum, learning will be fun and fruitful. Many thanks to the MaxLiteracy project for this award. I’m really looking forward to seeing the work our talented young people will produce.

Councillor Craig Hannaway, Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Children

The Whitworth

The Whitworth was established in 1889 as the first gallery in a park, for the ‘perpetual gratification of the people of Manchester,’ and this mission is still at its heart. Home to internationally renowned collections of modern art, textiles and sculpture and the largest public collection of Outsider Art in the UK, the learning team programmes holistically with the curatorial team, generating new approaches to working with non-traditional arts audiences and fostering co-productive strategies with communities. The Whitworth has a vibrant Learning & Engagement Programme, ranging from Early Years through to Age Friendly sessions, formal and informal, with extensive experience in working with schools and colleges. 

The Whitworth plan to use the Award to design a groundbreaking mental health literacy resource focused on the Musgrave Kinley Outsider Art collection. The project will allow the learning team to combine their work in arts and health with their experience of working with young people on our schools programme. The Mental Health Foundation states there is a clear link between improving a young person’s literacy and language skills and improving mental health literacy. The project will benefit the organisation by enabling the development of a ‘speak out’ resource, exploring the links between literacy, mental health and creativity. This project will be the first joint curatorial and learning venture that embodies the gallery’s ‘useful museum’ ethos; working to create an entirely user-led resource that uses the collection to address current needs, in this case, around young people’s mental health and literacy.  

The Max Literacy Award provides an opportunity for us to co-develop a sustainable mental health literacy resource for children and young people across Greater Manchester. We are excited by the possibilities offered by the Whitworth’s diverse collections, including the UK’s largest public collection of Outsider Art, to open up conversations around mental health, emotional wellbeing and creativity. Using our collection to address what matters in people’s lives, respond to current urgencies and propose solutions to the issues around us.

Ed Watts, Head of Learning and Engagement
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