Comber Grove Primary School. Photo: Roger Brown for A New Direction
As a freelance arts consultant, I’m lucky to work with a number of fantastic arts organisations, schools and communities delivering theatre and music education and outreach projects across London. At A New Direction I support delivery of the Artsmark programme, including Artsmark Partners, the Arts Council’s new programme for cultural organisations to engage with schools through Artsmark. It’s a role that combines all the best bits of my job!
A New Direction is the Bridge Organisation for London. The organisation’s role is to help connect schools and young people to high quality opportunities in the arts and culture, with Artsmark being one component of this. The Artsmark Award is a nationally recognised quality standard for schools that supports them to develop, celebrate and strengthen high quality arts and cultural provision.
The Arts Council recently announced a brand new programme aimed specifically at the cultural sector – the Artsmark Partnership Programme. It’s an exciting development which helps to connect and develop partnerships between schools and arts organisations, with the overall aim of creating inspiring, authentic and engaging opportunities for children and young people in school.
In my experience, arts organisations are often very responsive to the challenges and opportunities of working in school settings, and this new programme aims to give the two partners a shared language through the Artsmark Award. To achieve their award, schools must evidence that they can demonstrate the value of working with a diverse range of partners to provide high quality arts and culture education, so part of the purpose of the Artsmark Partnership Programme is to help schools easily find partners to help them fulfil these criteria.
The programme will help Artsmark Partners to build new audiences. Arts organisations who join the programme will be able to use the Artsmark Partners logo on their website and marketing material. This shows schools that the organisation has an offer that supports schools on their Artsmark journey, as well as demonstrating that they have a good understanding of the Artsmark Award and what schools engaged in the programme are doing.
Once signed up, each Artsmark Partner can design a bespoke offer for Artsmark settings based on their own expertise, or build upon their existing offers. Schools have told us that they are interested in a range of offers from one-off workshops focusing on a particular theme, longer-term projects that culminate in performances, and CPD (Continuing Professional Development) opportunities that help teachers develop skills and confidence in creative approaches to teaching and learning.
How can you join the Artsmark Partnership Programme?
Joining is free! All you need to do is contact your local Bridge organisation and book onto one of their Artsmark Partnership Programme briefing sessions. The Arts Council will then send you an Artsmark Partner logo and a Code of Practice, outlining expectations of how Partners will engage with settings.
Find out more at http://www.artsmark.org.uk/artsmark-partnership-programme
Lancasterian Primary. Photo: Roger Brown for A New Direction