Extend Project Outcomes 2015–16

Group: Caroline Muirhead, Rowena Hillel, Heather Cassidy & Owain Rhys — Creative Leadership and Young People

Our area of enquiry focused on how strong leadership in arts, cultural and heritage organisations can engage and empower young people. We began from a shared belief that whilst many organisations are not good on the whole at engaging with young people, there are a number of organisations who we think lead the way in this type of work. Whilst we were interested in young people from all backgrounds, our particular focus was on 16–25 year olds from ‘harder to reach’ backgrounds who may be even less likely to view engagement with arts, cultural and heritage organisations as a realistic prospect for themselves. We recognised that some young people won’t engage with organisations because they believe that they are not welcome, that their opinion carries less value and that they have no real tangible impact on any decision making. In such instances, young people may say that it is actually the organisations which are ‘harder to reach’, not them. This age bracket also included new graduates and early career practitioners who were trying to gain entry to the sector.

We were interested in researching the practical application of leadership models in organisations where the value and worth of young people’s voices was evident and visible throughout the organisation, from a grassroots level right the way up to the senior management team. What role do leaders in education and learning have in ensuring this practice is nurtured, developed and sustained? At its core, our area of enquiry was concerned with the reciprocal relationship between young people and organisations and so, through our project, we wanted to find meaningful ways to bring young people’s voices and experiences in to our research. Our approach was not one of “us and them” but instead one of “we.”

Group: Alice Burrows, Natalie Cain, Caron Loudy, Lucy Shipp, Justine Woycicka — Mapping Potential

Mapping Potential aimed to explore and demonstrate the ways in which creative projects can help participants to develop leadership skills. Our final enquiry question evolved through the course of the project, though this central focus and interest ran as a core thread throughout.

Our original proposed enquiry question was ‘How can the arts and heritage sectors meaningfully develop leadership skills in participants during/through creative projects?’ As our enquiry developed we honed this broad aim in line with, and in response to our research findings. We found, following desk research, interviews and further enquiries that there was no existing, useable evidence base from which we could analyse and draw meaningful conclusions in answer to this question.

The lack of evidence in this area prompted us to refocus our enquiry, with the question ‘How can we most effectively measure the development of leadership skills in participants of creative projects?’. This revised question sought to provide a means to evidence leadership development in creative projects via the creation a tool which arts and heritage settings would be able to use.

We hope that the tool will, over time, generate an evidence base from which it will be possible to meaningfully demonstrate the effectiveness of creative projects in developing leadership skills in participants, and to provide a starting point for exploring best practice in this area.