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Engage is the lead advocacy and training network for gallery education.

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Engaging with young people in Wales

Summer Arts Colleges

“The Artists brought in a focus and helped the young people achieve good results” (Education Manager, Hillside Secure Unit)

“He (young person) made a powerful piece of work….you could see his sense of pride and achievement” (artist, Parc) 

In August 2016, Engage Cymru worked in partnership with Unitas supporting 14 children and young people from Parc Prison Youth Offending Institute and Hillside Secure Unit to achieve Bronze Level Arts Award. These pilot interventions were generously funded by the Foyle Foundation.

Wales based artists Tom Goddard, Anna Barratt, Pip Lewis and Simone Bizzell-Browning devised innovative, intensive visual arts interventions using the young peoples’ interests as the starting point encouraging them to engage in a wide range of creative activities aimed at raising motivation levels, increasing self-esteem, developing research, numeracy, digital and literacy skills.

The learning for the young people, the artists, the Unit staff and others is extensive. Engage Cymru will publish an evaluation report in March which will be available in the resources section. This work builds on the successful Engage Cymru Reach the Heights and Momentum projects.

In September 2017 Engage Cymru will deliver ‘Unlocking Potential’ – an ACW funded training event in partnership with Denbighshire County Council and Helfa Gelf, along with a toolkit aimed at artists working with young people in secure environments and those at risk.

Ways of Living

“We were offering ways of living, informal lessons on how to cope with life outside by building interests, concentration, powers of perception while widening inspiration” (Thomas Goddard, artist, engage Cymru arts intervention 2016)

These reflections resonate loudly with the underlying principles of the recently published Taylor Review which advocates the importance of engaging young offenders in meaningful, enjoyable, motivating and productive activity to help them reach their potential and break cycles of re-offending.

The arts have the power to do this. For three weeks in August 2016, funded by the Foyle Foundation and managed by engage Cymru in partnership with Unitas, 6 young people at Hillside Secure Unit, Neath and 8 young people at Bridgend Parc Prison YOI were engaged in intensive visual arts interventions - ‘Summer Arts Colleges’ - led by four exceptional Wales based artists. Literacy, numeracy, digital and research skills were innovatively woven into a wide range of stimulating activities inspired by the young peoples’ interests, which motivated them to turn up for sessions, even when external factors seemed destined to prevent this.

Without exception and against a hugely challenging backdrop, all the young people achieved Bronze Level Arts Award. The overwhelming sense of pride and self-esteem displayed by the young people was tangible and life affirming. The learning from these projects is now available in a final evaluation report.

Download the Summer Arts Colleges evaluation report.




Images: Tom Goddard/Anna Barratt

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