University of Cambridge Museums

Projects, events and news from the University of Cambridge Museums

A look back at ‘Just Arts’ in 2015

An established enrichment programme for Young People in Care

Throughout 2015, 73 young people who were currently in care, benefited from the University of Cambridge Museums’ Just Arts programme. Just Arts aims to broaden the cultural horizons of young people, providing them with access and ownership of their local city, museums and collections.

The programme was first established in autumn 2014 in partnership with the Children’s Participation Service in Social Care, part of Cambridgeshire County Council. Now into the second year, Just Arts offers a supported learning environment for young people in museums, providing focussed visits and workshops for young people aged 9 – 18. Last year’s programme saw all the young people taking part in a range of arts activities including Arts Award, gallery talks, practical art sessions and visits to the University of Cambridge. The outcome was an increase in confidence and self-esteem within the participants, and a motivation to pursue more activities within the programme including a mentoring scheme for the younger members.

For many of the young people, Just Arts provided their first experience of a museum setting. Access to such opportunities was sometimes limited within their current living environment. Just Arts made available many opportunities across the museums’ young people’s programmes, in addition to the higher education events provided by the University of Cambridge Admissions Office.

“For a young person growing up in care, access to such opportunities can be challenging. Therefore facilitating the participation of young people in cultural activities is perceived as an important way of tackling disadvantage, poverty and social inequality.”

Extract from ‘Valuing Participation: The cultural and everyday activities of young people in care.’ By Lisanne Gibson and Delyth Edwards, University of Leicester.

In 2015 91% of the young people involved visited the Fitzwilliam Museum for the first time through the Just Arts Programme. 63% responded that they felt fairly confident in using museums as way of learning and all of these agreed that this was due to the Just Arts Programme.

“We have just completed our second year of the ‘Just Arts’ programme which has grown in numbers. This is testament to the proactive working partnership between Cambridge Social Care’s Participation team for Looked After Children and the Fitzwilliam Museum. This year’s cohorts were younger than the previous year and were recruited through other young people who had completed the first year. The Just Arts mentors promoted the award with such enthusiasm that inspired others to want to take part. When young people talk of the project it is always positive and all have recommended it to others. The fact that the young people speak so highly of completing the arts award, proves that it is a huge success. It allows Looked After young people to come together in a new environment which for some can be quite daunting. The project doesn’t just give them an arts award it helps them develop many other skills. New friendships are created; confidence grows along with self- esteem and team building skills. Next year’s programme is bigger than anything we have done in previous years which makes a very exciting year ahead for us all.”

Stephanie Killick, Participation Worker Children Social Care Participation Service

‘It’s been a real pleasure meeting and working with the young people, they’ve done some great work, have developed great confidence in using the museum, and really deserve their arts awards.”

Nathan Huxtable, Education Department (studio).

Education staff were also delighted to be awarded for their ‘outstanding achievement’, voted for by the young people, and presented at the Participation Service’s ‘Young People Awards’ last November. Lucy and Nathan have also been nominated for this year’s awards.

We are looking forward to the year ahead, with a programme filled with collection inspired workshops and Arts Award qualifications. The young people will also be invited to attend the University’s Realise Events, an event which actively promotes opportunities of higher education at the University of Cambridge.

We look forward to sharing their journey in 2016.

Lucy Sercombe, Learning Associate – Arts Award & Widening Participation, Fitzwilliam Museum

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