ART evolution – supporting youth arts in the visual arts in Scotland

Engage champions children and young people’s engagement and participation with the visual arts and supports the visual arts sector to deliver this. ART evolution was a collaborative and responsive programme developed in 2021 by Engage Scotland to support young people aged 16 – 25, freelance artists, creative educators and visual arts organisations/galleries as we emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Three organisations participated in ART evolution:

Highland Print Studio, Inverness;

Rumpus Room, Glasgow

Soulisquoy Printmakers, Stromness, Orkney.

Each organisation proposed a different way of working and co-producing with young people. The programmes engaged with young people aged 16-25 and included an associated paid youth traineeship and fairly paid opportunities for freelance artists/creative educators.

What were the outcomes for young people?

As a result of ART evolution:

  • 44 young people were engaged, along with six young people who received paid trainee opportunities.
  • 10 freelance artists undertook paid work through the project.
  • 58% of participants reported increased confidence through taking part in ART evolution.
  • 100% of participants agreed that ART evolution had given them the opportunity to learn new skills.
  • 40% of young people responded that collaboration was in their top two most enjoyable aspects of the project.
  • 100% of the youth trainees surveyed reported an increase in confidence and developed new skills.

Feedback from young people included:

‘Being here made me feel relaxed not stressed, the process helped me to be calm.’

Highland Print Studio participant

‘It improved my confidence in things that I am not usually comfortable in – interviews, meeting new people and working in unfamiliar spaces.’

Soulisquoy Printmakers participant

‘…art doesn’t have to be a hobby, it can be a job – you can take an idea and express yourself – nobody is judging you.’             

Highland Print Studio participant

‘I didn’t like that Covid ended up holding back our sessions so much, but I feel it was also a part of the project and the way we chose to handle the delays helped us learn to be more adaptable.’                               

Soulisquoy Printmakers participant

What were the outcomes for organisations?

  • The team at Rumpus Room reflected that COVID-19 brought new positive challenges in the group dynamics of getting used to working together again, having the confidence in building connections with new people and collaborating and discussing ideas.
  • All three projects had a positive experience of having trainees involved and were pleased to be able to pay them to participate. Rumpus Room had previously begun to look at paying young studio members and this project enabled them to do so.
  • All three organisations are committed to continuing to develop co-production with young people.
  • All of the projects demonstrated new models of working for their organisations from paying young people to creating steering groups and developing a study looking at the impact of youth arts activity on mental health and wellbeing.

Feedback from organisations and artists included:

‘The ART evolution project has opened up a window of creative opportunities which enriched my printmaking skills and encouraged further research and self-development within the discipline, this was made possible with the professional support and advice from the leading project co-ordinators and the Soulisquoy Printmakers group; the project has enabled an inspiring, creative collaboration between the artists and the steering group, and provided me with the necessary support to deliver the sessions.’

Soulisquoy Printmakers artist

‘You’ve got groups of young people who have never accessed the place and you can see the increase in confidence they get from finding themselves comfortable in a different environment. Just getting them out of school and into an environment like this accessing the facility among Joe Public – they realise that others there using the equipment are just real people.’         

Alison McMenemy, Highland Print Studio

Our ART evolution partners have blogs where you can follow their projects progress.

ART Evolution was supported by Creative Scotland. The Highland Print Studio project was also supported by The Fleming Collection.

About The Fleming Collection and the Fleming-Wyfold Art Foundation

The Fleming Collection is considered the finest collection of Scottish art outside public institutions comprising over 600 works from the seventeenth century to the present day. It remains a living collection with an active acquisitions policy.

The Foundation furthers an understanding and awareness of Scottish art and creativity across the UK and beyond through exhibitions, events, publishing and education. Its Museum without Walls strategy uses the collection to initiate touring exhibitions of Scottish art, such as the Glasgow Girls and Boys and the Scottish Colourists, through partnerships with public museums, art galleries and institutions.

Find out more about the work of the Fleming Collection and the Fleming-Wyfold Art Foundation here.