by Author Peter Shilton

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Reflections on first-time delivery of Gold Arts Award - 3 Observations


Merseyside Arts Foundation is an independent development organisation supporting engagement in the arts and creative industries. From young people who exhibit outstanding talent and potential, to early career artists looking to take their first professional steps, to more established artists ready to make an international impact, we work with a variety of approaches to identify, nurture and establish Merseyside’s creative talent.  

As part of recent Youth Music funded work, and in line with our organisational ambition of supporting young who exhibit outstanding talent and potential, we have incorporated Gold Arts Award into our model of work for the first time with eight young people successfully completing the accreditation over a six month period alongside a second cohort of young people working towards Bronze Level.  This led to an interesting insight into how Gold Level criteria could be most effectively integrated into similar future activities, informing our practice as an organisation and creating a number of example suggestions in respect of Unit 1 Part A and Unit 2 to be shared with other organisations within the Youth Music network.   

Observation One - Offering a Gold Arts Award accreditation to young people who are naturally considering taking their practice beyond their current comfort zone.

In working with a range of young people our project identified a number of examples within young people’s practice which tessellated with either Bronze or Gold Level Arts Awards.  Upon induction to the project young people were asked about their medium and long term plans and were only considered for Gold Arts Award if they were naturally considering extending their practice and demonstrating leadership in line with Gold criteria.  Importantly, the consequence of this was that our offer as an organisation would not support a young person to pursuing a Gold level award regardless of their current point of development.

Observation Two - Examples of young people extending practice in respect of Unit 1 Part A

A key focus of our project was to provide a bespoke offer to young people which was tailored to their individual needs and aspirations.  As such our project revealed a number of examples in which a young person pursuing a Gold Level Arts Award could extend their practice:

- Having used a home-based recording set-up to record a self-produced demo, the young person is now looking to work in a professional music studio for the first time

- Having previously released a debut single, the young person is now looking to elevate practice to an EP record or series of releases

- The young person is planning to release new work and seeks to create artwork for the release

Observation Three - Examples of young people demonstrating leadership in respect of Unit 2

Following on from a bespoke approach to tailoring each portfolio to each young person’s individual needs and aspirations a range of examples of how young people could demonstrate the appropriate level of leadership also arose:

-  Producing a live event including selection of venue, curation of performers, marketing of event and management or delegation of management of technical equipment.

- Creating a music video including creative direction of concept, practical planning of location, working in partnership with film practitioners and effectively managing release as part of wider career plan

- Organising a regional tour including selection and booking of venues, creating a professional development plan regarding rehearsals and performance, liaising with multiple venue contacts and marketing the tour as part of a wider career plan.