Tuesday, 12 June 2018

The Pitt Rivers Kicks Arts again!

Hello! I'm Kelly and I am the maternity cover for the Secondary Education, Further Education and Young People role here at the Pitt Rivers Museum during 2018. I am very lucky to have been part of a brilliant, dynamic project called Kick Arts, which has just finished under its HLF funding.
Preparing for the celebration event © Pitt Rivers Museum

The Kick Arts Flexi School programme has run for three years, in a partnership between the OYAP Trust, and the Pitt Rivers Museum. Both organisations are passionate about working with local young people to make a real change in their lives, and the Kick Arts programme has been really successful at bringing together a new concept and making a tangible difference to the lives of everyone involved. 

Preparing the animation scene © Pitt Rivers Museum

Kick Arts offers a whole day alternative to a classroom setting. It targets young people who may not be reaching their full potential in a classroom setting, for various reasons. The sessions are totally bespoke, responding to the energy, interests and dynamics of each individual in the room. Charlie Henry, who heads up the sessions, is a trained Psychotherapist and multi-platform artist. She holds intuitive qualities of working with young people to support and nurture an environment where young people are free to express themselves through producing artwork. In 2018, she was supported by Beth McDougall from the Pitt Rivers Museum. Beth offered a sensitive approach for young people to engage with the Museums vast collections. Her knowledge and enthusiasm for the collection allowed for a diverse range of interests to emerge from the young people during the 10-week programme. Young people created unique responses to the collections, including animations, rap music tracks, felt working, lantern building, photography, splatter painting, and even sock painting (!).

Celebrating the participants success © Pitt Rivers Museum
In each session, the young people arrive to a series of quick-fire warm up activities. As a group, they decide and write up a plan for the day, and then they get exploring! Small groups can wander into the Pitt Rivers Museum with Beth to find inspiration, some stay in the Museum annexe, where they explore artforms, and other curiosities. Each young person has a tailored programme, including varying levels of structure and outputs. During their 10 week session, young people get to complete an Arts Award. Most have achieved a Bronze Award, but one young person has used her Kick Arts work towards a Gold Arts Award. The award is administered by Carmen Hoepper, who works as the project Manager for Kick Arts on the OYAP Trust side. 

The Project has been funded under the HLF Young Roots grant for the past three years. In this time, there have been three, different, but equally amazing programmes. On March 26th 2018, the final programme came to a close with a celebration event. This was a chance for friends, family members, and participating young people to reflect on the amazing work they achieved. Here are some of the comments from the event....

Please continue, please expand. This work is invaluable to children who are talented and amazing, yet don’t always fit the box of the mainstream

Thank you for believing in x. thank you for showing her she can be herself and thrive. Thank you for a lovely social environment in which to learn and give.

She has a depth of talent and imagination that as I parent I did not have the skill to help her with. She has been inspired and liberated.

Xxxx is proud of his artwork and believes he can do- and that it is important HE is pleased with his work and feeling valued. 
Socks and friendship © Pitt Rivers Museum

Over 50 people attended this celebration event, including stakeholders from the wider sector (Oxford University Museums, GLAM partners, Oxford City Council, County Council, Arts Council England and HLF representatives). The young people had worked with Modern Art Oxford Curator Emma Ridgway to present their final artworks in a thoughtful and artfully constructed space. VIP guests to the celebration event could then view this artwork as part of the celebration event. Beth, Carmen, Charlie and other organisers gave short speeches on the importance of this work, and the digital pieces of art were shown to the attendees on a projector. 

The celebration event received press coverage by the local BBC Regional news, and a piece was aired on the 6 O’Clock news on the 27th March. 

Participant talking to the director of the museum about the inspiration for his work
© Pitt Rivers Museum
A unique aspect to the Kick Arts programme are the opportunities for emerging artists and art educators. Every session involved local young Artists (18-25) who want to gain experience in participatory arts projects like this, so they have the experience and skills to take forwards in their chosen career path. The young artists are also closer in age to the young people, demonstrating an achievable and aspirational angle for young people who are inspired to do work in the Arts sector. The high ratio of artists, facilitators, young artists also means the participants often get 1:1 support during the day. 

Charlie Henry talking to the BBC © Pitt Rivers Museum
Another highly successful aspect was the flexibility with which the sessions were run. The young people were able to follow their own interests, and take control over their own learning. This sense of empowerment was important for these young people, as they gained confidence to take on new challenges and be inspired by what they could achieve. This resulted from the high ratio of staff to young people, and also due to the flexibility and responsiveness of the way each session was run. 

The Kick Arts concept was incredibly successful. Its strengths were in its leadership, its staffing, its bespoke approach, and its legacy.

Kick Arts may have completed its last session under the HLF funding, but its future is still looking bright. The Pitt Youth Action Team is another feeder outlet for young people who have completed the Kick Arts programme and still want to continue a relationship with the museum. The Kick Arts concept will continue in the future, with both OYAP and the Pitt Rivers keen to maintain and progress their relationship and partnerships. The Pitt Rivers Director, Laura Van Brockhoeven is hugely supportive of continuing this important work with young people in the future.

I am really pleased that the momentum built during the Kick Arts programmes is still continuing, and that the Pitt Rivers Museum is sustaining its relationship with OYAP Trust, and supporting the running of this amazing project.

Kelly Smith
Secondary, Further Education and Young People Officer

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