Marsh Awards 2015

On Thursday 19 November 2015, the fifth annual Marsh Awards for Excellence in Gallery Education celebrated the hard work and dedication of colleagues working within the sector of gallery, museum and visual arts education. The Awards are funded by the Marsh Christian Trust and run by engage, the support and advocacy organisation for gallery education, whose mission is to increase access to the visual arts.

This year five individuals received awards, presented by Stephen Allen, Head of Learning & Programmes, National Museums Scotlandand Brian Marsh OBE, Chairman of the Marsh Christian Trust, during the annual engage International Conference in Glasgow. The Awards are open to colleagues working in galleries and visual arts organisations, and colleagues are invited to nominate deserving co-workers every summer. The winners receive £500 to spend on their professional development, and this was the first year that the Awards were open to colleagues outside the UK. Feedback from previous awardees has been overwhelmingly positive – colleagues were delighted to receive recognition for their work and have reported increased confidence and opportunities as a result of winning the awards, as well as benefits for the organisations where they worked.

This is the fifth year that engage has celebrated the achievements of colleagues through the Marsh Awards for Excellence in Gallery Education, and we are delighted to introduce a new award in 2015 for colleagues outside the UK. As ever the panel were extremely impressed by the quality of nominations received from individuals at all stages of their careers, working as freelancers and employees across the UK and internationally. We are proud to work with the Marsh Christian Trust to mark the valuable contribution made by colleagues in making the visual arts more accessible.

Jane Sillis
Director, Engage

The 2015 winners were

Georgia Close, Manager, Student and Teacher Engagement, MCA, Sydney, Australia

Georgia Close, 2015 Marsh Award winner.

Georgia is the first international winner in the history of the Awards, and was nominated by Gill Nicol, Director of Audience Engagement at MCA. Georgia works with a large team of artist educators, program coordinators and a Teachers Advisory Council in the development of creative learning programs and resources for schools audiences at MCA.

In nominating Georgia, Gill said:

She (Georgia) creates a safe space for everyone – for participants in the wide-ranging program, and for the teams who deliver. People feel safe to voice their ideas, experiment and take risks, resulting in rich creative learning experiences.

Gill Nicol

Georgia proposes to use the funding from the award to pursue an opportunity to engage with representatives from Project Zero, Harvard University and provide a collaborative professional development workshop for MCA Artist Educators and Creative Learning Coordinators, which would not only benefit Georgia in her leadership of creative learning programs but also provide a unique opportunity for the broader learning team to have access to international leaders in education and creative and critical thinking.

Beth Frazer, Community Engagement Initiative Trainee, Mid Antrim Museums Service, Northern Ireland

2015 Marsh Award winner, Beth Frazer, being presented with her award by Brian Marsh OBE. Image courtesy of Nikki Grout.

A museum practitioner with experience in national and local government museums and visitor attractions, Beth was nominated by Elaine Hill, Heritage and Development Officer at Mid Antrim Museum. In her nomination Elaine referred to Beth’s project, Ways of Seeing, A Sense of Place, which used the collections of council museums to engage audiences through exhibitions with community group contributions, art condition survey and conservation and community engagement with museum artworks and local built heritage. Elaine said,

Beth went above and beyond the brief to create a full and rounded experience for all involved. She has demonstrated how new technologies can improve the visitor experience and established new audiences. She has used her initiative and developed new skills to enhance the project and delivery.

Elaine Hill

Beth plans to use the award to attend professional training and progress her knowledge and experience in education and engagement within the museums and galleries sector.

Victoria Mayes, Head of Learning, MK Gallery, Milton Keynes

2015 Marsh Award winner, Victoria Mayes. Image courtesy of Nikki Grout.

Having joined MK Gallery’s team in 1999, Victoria has worked as both artist and educator, building a wealth of skills and experience relevant to the arts sector. She recently completed the Extend Leadership Programme and transitioned into a new role as Head of Learning, taking on further responsibility as engage South East Area Rep and Co-chair of The Milton Keynes Creative Learning Network.

In her nomination Director of MK Gallery Anthony Spira referred to the range of successful large scale projects that Victoria has initiated and led, and said,

Victoria feels passionate about the role arts can play in our everyday lives – opening up a range of opportunities and enabling creative dialogue and personal discovery. At the heart of Victoria’s aspirations remains the desire to inspire participants, to empower and to open up creative and cultural possibilities.

Anthony Spira

Victoria proposes using the award to work with a mentor alongside MK Gallery’s imminent capital expansion, with a focus on the development and scaling up of the Learning Programme, long-term strategy development, independent advice and personal peer support.

Daniel McCabe, Learning Assistant (Contemporary Exhibitions), Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea

2015 Marsh Award winner, Daniel McCabe, being presented with his award by Brian Marsh OBE. Image courtesy of Nikki Grout.

Daniel joined the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery team in 2013. He programmes workshop activities for children and young people and leads the Gallery’s expanding digital engagement.

Daniel was nominated by Tom Goddard, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery Learning and Participation Officer, who highlighted his work with Saturday Family Art Club.

Daniel shares the gallery’s principles of involving all participants in the development of our programmes and their own learning. Enabling them to take ownership and become engaged and empowered. Daniel’s dedicated and flexible approach has inspired children, young people and families collectively while admirably overcoming and taking in his stride the tricky task of off-site working during the Gallery’s redevelopment.

Tom Goddard

Daniel plans to use the Award to develop his digital skills in either programming or coding to enable him to effectively inspire young people to engage with digital technology.

Caitlin Page, Learning Programme Manager, The Fruitmarket Galley, Edinburgh

2015 Marsh Award winner, Caitlin Page, with Brian Marsh OBE. Image courtesy of Nikki Grout.

With twelve years experience of working in arts education, in her current role Caitlin programmes workshops for young people and community groups, produces resources for teachers, community leaders and family audiences, and has developed the gallery’s current Equalities Policy.

Caitlin was nominated by Dr Stacy Boldrick, Curator of Research and Interpretation at The Fruitmarket, who said,

Caitlin is an inspirational colleague who has changed the way I think about gallery education and the wider world through her work with young people and audiences with disabilities. Her dedication to social inclusion and equality of opportunity led her to develop Art Works, a year-long project for young people aged 16-19 who were not in education, employment or training, which later developed into Fresh Fruit, a peer-led programme for 16-25 year olds. Her steadfast, quiet but radical work has made an enormous positive difference to young people at a critical time in their lives.

Dr Stacy Boldrick

Caitlin will use the Award to travel to the Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo to investigate their internationally acclaimed work with deaf young people.