Creating opportunities for young people through Silver Arts Award

8 May 2014

Rachel Crofts, Young People's Programmes Manager, talks about creating more opportunities for young people through Silver Arts Award.

Subscribe to our newsletter

(Image credit: The Geffrye Museum)

The Geffrye Museum explores the home over the past 400 years, from around 1600 to the present day. Our focus is on the living rooms of the urban middle classes in England, particularly London. We aim to show how such homes have been used and furnished over this period, reflecting changes in society and patterns of behaviour as well as style, fashion and taste.

The Learning and Engagement Department’s aim is to encourage active learning and participation. We aim to maximise opportunities for interaction, discussion, thinking aloud, making, creating, questioning and for hands-on, multi-sensory enquiry. In recent years we have developed ways in which people can take an active role within the museum: through work-based learning and volunteering programmes, the contribution of memories and stories to our archives, by joining an advisory panel or steering group or by producing learning resources, film, events and exhibitions and helping us to re-interpret our collections.

Historically, museums have often seen ‘young people’ as a difficult audience to attract and with which to work. The Geffrye has invested in youth participation since 2006. Today we offer young people aged 14-24 a plethora of one-off or long-term volunteer, paid and informal engagement opportunities, which can emphasise creative or technical skills development, encourage CV enhancement and provide an opportunity to gain nationally recognised-awards such as VInspired awards and Arts Award Bronze. This has all been achieved in consultation and engagement with young people themselves.

Staff have previously supported young people to gain their Bronze Arts Award. This has always been an add-on to the creative project and largely required the young people to achieve their award outside of the museum. In September 2013, the Geffrye was invited to participate in a new initiative led by London’s lead Bridge organisation, A New Direction (AND) to enable staff to create a framework to deliver Silver Arts Award to young people work with us on longer-term programmes. Our aim was to embed the Award within programmes where we met and worked with young people on a monthly basis. By doing so we hoped to make Silver Arts Award a sustainable accreditation offer to young people volunteering on the Young People’s Programme in the future.

Since November 2013, we have been working with 18 young people to achieve their Silver Arts Award. Over the last few months they have been predominately working on Unit 1, and developing their own unique arts practice. Most of the young people have used upcoming opportunities at the Geffrye for various aspects of their unit including: their individual arts challenge, writing an arts event review, and interviewing staff to help them think about future career avenues. This has meant the young people are able to achieve the award simply by attending various aspects of the Young People’s Programme, ultimately making the accreditation more embedded within our everyday programme.

"I've really enjoyed visiting museums and plays for my arts event and then writing about it. Exploring other arts and thinking about art careers/how to incorporate art into daily life has also been really useful as I’m starting to think about my future career". Silver Arts Award participant feedback on Unit 1

To ensure the programme can be sustained and embedded in the future, staff have devised Unit 1 and 2 template packs for the young people to complete. This has been an invaluable resource – not only do the young people gain their Arts Award by completing the templates, staff are able to set monthly worksheets to complete, which map the young person’s progress and highlight what aspects of each unit still need to be achieved.

"I’ve found the template packs very useful as they simplified everything we had to do and made it easier to organise the portfolio. They’ve helped me organise my time, plan the events and activities I need to do. They’ve given me clear and simple guideline which meant that I wasn’t confused at all". Silver Arts Award participant feedback on the template packs

Staff also offer monthly ‘support surgeries’ to provide individual support and advice time for each young person participating. Although these meetings have often taken place outside the usual days/times of our regular workshops/meetings with the young people, what is clear is the young people have benefited from this support.

"I’ve found the ‘support surgeries’ extremely useful. The guidance is just what I needed, it’s been helpful for keeping me on target and staff have been very useful in giving advice as to what to do/add/improve on for my portfolio. It’s also helped me stagger the work I was doing for Unit 1 so I didn’t have to do it all at once." Silver Arts Award participant feedback on the ‘support surgeries’.

As we move in to the next phase of the programme, young people will work in teams to take over the regular Holiday Activity Programme for 11-16 year olds. They will receive training from artists, work on risk assessments, plan, market, deliver and market their workshops. This is the first time young people will deliver workshops and staff hope that through the Silver Arts Award programme this can happen on a more regular basis.

For more information on our Young People’s Programme or how we are delivering our Silver Arts Award please contact Rachael on rcrofts@geffrye-museum.org.uk / 020 7749 6016, or visit our website, join The Geffrye’s Young People’s Pages on Facebook or @GeffryeYouth.


Harrow Arts Centre, Tomorrow’s Warriors, Geffrye Museum, Tricycle Theatre, Tiger Monkey and Almeida Theatre are working together to explore innovative ways in which the delivery of Silver and Gold Arts Award can be embedded within the organisations. The programme runs from Sept 2013 to June 2014. The learning from this will be documented and disseminated at the end of the programme. Further information about Arts Award can be found here.

Like this blog?

We send out a monthly digest of all our blogs, news and updates - sign up here to receive straight to your inbox - www.anewdirection.org.uk/newsletter

You can also follow us at @A_New_Direction