I have to admit that when I first started doing Arts Award about seven or eight years ago, I found it difficult to fit in around the art practice. It seemed like a separate entity.
I have to admit that when I first started doing Arts Award about seven or eight years ago, I found it difficult to fit in around the art practice. It seemed like a separate entity. Now, though, I realise that it can be a tool to help plan and properly understand and record the stages that a participant goes through to create a piece of work and their engagement in a programme.
Especially in a mental health support setting, but also generally, we, as workshop providers and teachers, encounter young people who are unsure of their own achievements or skill levels. We meet people who put themselves down, having low self-esteem, and do not recognise how far they have come. Arts Award is a brilliant way to help someone to recognise all that they can do and see a clear record of their personal progress.
Little and often is definitely the key to integrating Arts Award in to your sessions. I sometimes use a PowerPoint template as this can help people to integrate the photographic, aural and video evidence that is collected. This also allows the young people to record themselves talking or drawing pictures if they feel they want to communicate in different ways other than a standard written response. The folder or digital portfolio that they produce is very often a piece of art itself and something that the young people can be proud of. The flexibility of how you present your evidence is the main benefit to Arts Award as it is a more inclusive way of presenting achievements.
I start by helping people to set a clear plan of what they want to achieve and then simply keep adding diary entries about what you have done together in each session. They can support this by adding in ideas and any work that they have done at home. This is a simple way to build the evidence needed regarding their participation in an arts programme.
I talk to them about who their hero/ heroine is and get them to write or talk about their life and why they inspire them. It is the ‘why’ not the facts that are the most interesting. This can lead to inspiring them to write some music in a specific style or on certain topics.
If possible, take them to see art and music that inspires them in some way. This can be difficult to arrange with participants but these other elements of Arts Award will often lead to discoveries about the person you are working with or ideas that can be fed in to their work.
Getting them to share their work, lead a part of a session or share a skill is a great way to boost somebody’s confidence and for them to gain feedback is a great way to develop their own reflective skills.
Assessing their work and writing the conclusion at the end often leaves people pleasantly shocked by how much they have achieved and having a certificate celebrating their involvement is a tangible reward at the end.