Working together to identify & create cultural learning opportunities
Through Connected London, Bruce Castle has sought to work with other youth organisations and arts providers in Tottenham to work together to identify and create quality cultural learning opportunities as well as a model of working with young people.
12 August 2014
(Photo: Clay workshops at Bruce
Grove Youth Centre - inspired by Haringey’s past pottery industry, and given a
modern-day ‘cool’ twist!)
Bruce Castle Museum lies within the historic heart of
Tottenham. As the museum and archive service for Haringey, Bruce Castle is the
local provider of heritage education for the borough. Its unique position in
the community has nurtured cultural educational links and opportunities for all
ages and for its diverse communities, especially with local primary schools and
In the aftermath of the riots in Tottenham in 2011, combined
with the economic challenges in recent years, Bruce Castle’s role of a cultural
provider in the area was more critical than ever to ensure it was able to
continue to provide a range of opportunities and positive cultural activities
to engage young people in Tottenham.
Immediately following the riots, there was considerable
surprise within the media that some people in the Tottenham community spoke
highly and protectively of the area – that there was a sense pride and of
something to “belong to” in Tottenham. But what young people from
Tottenham - especially the 14 – 24 year old age group - feel about where they
Reports analysing Tottenham and its communities following
the riots, highlighted there were those from this age group who might have felt
they ‘didn’t belong’ or felt ‘disconnected’ from their locality. The
stereotypical response to create a sense of belonging for this age group has
often been achieved through being part of a “gang” or “a postcode”. These
reports also pointed to the few opportunities for cultural engagement in
Tottenham, particularly for young people.
And so, here lay the challenges not only for youth services
and organisations already operating in Tottenham, but also for those working in
the cultural sector – like Bruce Castle Museum.
Through the opportunities of Connected London, Bruce Castle
has therefore sought to work with other youth organisations and arts providers
in the area to work together to identify and create quality cultural learning
opportunities as well as a model of working with young people. At the heart of
this work, - It has been important to give young people a voice on what cultural
activity they would like to see in their area - It has been a chance for young
people to explore this idea of ‘belonging’, through exploring their local
culture, enabling an opportunity to feel more connected with the world around
them - From the museum’s viewpoint, we have been keen to see how we can develop
learning programmes that hit the right note for young people to see how they
might use, view or be inspired by our local heritage.
Central to creating this model and improving the way we work
has been partnership-working. Supported
by the Innovation Unit and AND, staff at Bruce Castle Museum have actively
revisited and refreshed past working relationships as well as sought and built
up relationships to create new working partnerships. On that course of action,
it has been important to ensure enough time and space has been given to work on
partnerships. Building in enough time has meant we have been able to listen to
and to analyse the expectations and needs more effectively of partners so that
we can identify ways of moving forward together for the future. We have also
been able to use each other’s experience in order to trial and test new ways of
working with one other, and with young people.
The result has been the making of a ‘cultural community hub’- for Tottenham in particular, and for Haringey
generally, with Bruce Castle at its core; its network of partnerships all have
a focus for creating quality cultural projects and learning opportunities for
young people in the area, inspired by Tottenham / Haringey’s local heritage.
Bruce Castle itself has become a strategic broker or
facilitator within that cultural community hub. We have been able to offer
advice, given space and resources to other local organisations, and been
actively cultivating new partnerships.
There have been also opportunities for the museum to be able
to position itself to help influence outcomes in creating cultural / heritage
projects to support young people. This has involved being part of regeneration
projects that can link to pathways to employment for young people and / or raise
achievement in their education.
The main aim of all our youth engagement work has been to
build a ladder of participation for our local young people. This has also
included offering alternative ways or means for young people to engage with us,
including skills development, awards, volunteering, and opportunities for
Some exciting projects as a result are in the pipeline, with
others already on its way or successfully completed including:
There is more work to do – aside of delivering current and
future projects – about signposting for young people about cultural activities
aimed for them in the area. How do young people find out about activities
available to them? This is a common them for all partners – and something we
all wish to crack.
In the meantime Bruce Castle Museum will continue its
programme of delivery – at the moment there are plans for a piece of work with
a small group of Tottenham primary schools on engaging younger children in
understanding their past and then designing the future of Tottenham – so watch
To find out more about Haringey's work through Connected London go here
About Connected London
A New Direction's action research programme and strategy for
local areas in London. 'Connected' is a three-year programme (2012-14) with two
years of action-research investment and one of transition or development
funding. It is led by A New Direction, in partnership with the Innovation Unit
and a number of London Boroughs and other cultural partners.