About the Project

Generation ART: Young Artists on Tour was an exhibition of children and young people’s artwork with associated learning programmes, supported by Arts Council England’s Strategic touring programme and the Garfield Weston Foundation.

Run by Engage, the exhibition opened at Turner Contemporary, Margate in June 2015, and toured to New Walk Museum and Art Gallery and Soft Touch Arts in Leicester, and Quay Arts on the Isle of Wight in 2016.

Goals of Generation ART: Young Artists on Tour

The idea behind Generation ART was for children and young people to be involved in a high quality exhibition at every stage, as curators, artists, audiences and champions. By profiling high quality artwork by children and young people, Generation ART strives to raise the aspirations of schools, teachers and of children and young people, and inspire them to create excellent artwork.

Launch of Generation ART at Turner Contemporary, June 2016. Image: Jane Moorhouse

Generation ART also sought to get new art visitors stepping over gallery thresholds and being inspired to make their own art. The exhibition toured to three areas where there is low engagement with the arts or a shortage of high quality touring exhibitions, and was accompanied in each area by tailored audience development programmes which connected with children and young people, new audiences for the visual arts, and local communities.

The collaboration between the partners involved in Generation ART was designed to build capacity in the sector, creating more venues able to host touring work and crucially, with the experience and expertise to engage with new audiences. A partnership approach ensured that the legacies of the exhibitions were built upon through local and regional strategies, and learning was be shared through the Contemporary Visual Arts Network (CVAN)The Mighty Creatives and Artswork Bridge Organisations, and Engage.

Families enjoying Generation ART at Quay Arts on the Isle of Wight. Image: Jane Moorhouse

Background to the project

In 2013, Engage invited visual art venues in England to express interest in hosting Generation ART in 2015-16. In selecting venues, Engage considered their location, in areas of high deprivation, or low cultural engagement and/or which are isolated; commitment to working with artists and commissioning new work; strong strategies for working with children and young people; commitment to professional development and sharing practice, and capacity to host the exhibition, and work across the whole organisation to engage and sustain new audiences.

As a result four organisations were selected:  

  •  Turner Contemporary in Margate, which serves an area of high deprivation.
  •  New Walk Museum and Gallery and Soft Touch Arts in Leicester who serve a multi-cultural area of low engagement with a young population and high levels of youth unemployment. Soft Touch Arts also specialise in work with vulnerable young people including those who are learning disabled, have offended or are at risk of offending. New Walk Museum and Art Gallery and Soft Touch Arts will work with the Spark Festival.
  •  Quay Arts which serves the Isle of Wight, an isolated area with a lack of high quality touring exhibition.
Visitors adding their own masterpiece in the actvity area at New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester. Image: Jane Moorhouse

Project delivery

Children and young people aged 4-18 were invited through promotion in schools, venues, NSEAD (the National Society for Education in Art & Design), and through Engage’s extensive networks, to submit work created in and outside of formal education settings. A selection panel was appointed, comprising artists, curators, experts from the education sector and young people. A core selection of work by children and young people was made for the touring exhibition. Each exhibition venue was responsible for work included by established artists, and this work emphasised the continuum from art made by children and young people through to professional practice.

Owen by Matthew Craven-Griffiths. Image: Jane Moorhouse

At each venue the exhibition was accompanied by an appropriate audience development and engagement programmes — in this way Generation ART adapted to the surroundings and audiences of each venue in a way that was unique and fitting to each location.

A freely available digital resource has since been launched, which documents the exhibition tour, acts as an inspiring resource for teachers, artists and visual arts educators, and provides a legacy well beyond the life of the project.