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Discover Family Arts Award

23 June 14 -- jsuess
This post was contributed by Miranda Millward, Arts Award Coordinator

Inspired by a pilot in summer 2013 at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, the Oxford University Museums and Collections (OUMC) received an ASPIRE Innovation Fund grant to design, create, conduct and evaluate a pilot programme to see if it was viable to deliver the Discover Arts Award via the existing Family Friendly Fun programme.

The Discover Arts Award comprises of 3 key areas which are briefly summarised below:

  • Discover (identify a number of arts forms and participate in arts activities)
  • Find out (record what was found out about artists and their work)
  • Share (share what was enjoyed with others)

Our thought process in deciding to pilot this approach came about for a number of reasons:

  • Families make up a huge part of our audience and have a big appetite for participating in creative arts activities.
  • Our collections have lots of art works and other objects that inspire creativity.
  • Families and Family Friendly Staff have often noted the need for some sort of sketchbook or creative journal that worked across all the OUMCs to be developed. Designing a logbook with Arts Award as a key element worked really well.
  • We run a very well attended and well-resourced Family Fun programme at weekends and during school holidays – this is happening anyhow and is funded so why not include this as part of an Arts Award Discover?
  • Running Arts Award in this way gives us another way to measure our reach and impact and also enables us to work within a nationally recognised context!
  • The Discover Arts Award is really flexible and it allowed us to create a logbook and programme that worked well for us and for our family visitors.

Object handling Family Friendly Fun session

The Logbook:

The Family Friendly representatives from each museum and the Arts Award Coordinator (who works across the museums and collections) worked together to develop content for a bespoke designed and illustrated A3 colour logbook. The logbook needed to contain a number of key contents in order to ensure children could achieve their Discover Award with the support of their parents and carers. We needed to include a page to support children identifying all the different art forms the museums contain which range from painting through to taxidermy! Each museum has its own page which contains a creative activity linked to an object or theme from that collection. We developed a number of pages which enable young people to record their attendance at up to 3 Family Fun sessions which always contain an arts activity. In order for children to gain their Arts Award they need to attend at least one Family Friendly Fun session. These sessions happen at the museums every weekend and throughout the school holidays. We included various other flexible pages which allowed young people to record visits to other museums and galleries or just demonstrate their creative skills by drawing, painting, photographing, collaging etc. The final page gives a structured opportunity to record how young people had decided to share their logbook and record who they had shared it with. We were very lucky to work with fantastic illustrator Sarah Hoyle and an equally fantastic graphic designer Nick Wood, who helped us to create a beautiful and easy to navigate logbook.

The logbook in action...

The pilot:

Creating the logbook was only one part of the process. We aimed to recruit up to 30 children between the ages of 5 – 11. The pilot costs were all covered by the ASPIRE Innovation Fund grant so we were able to offer it for free. We did this by creating fliers which were on display at each museum and given out during Family Fun sessions. Equally important was the word of mouth recruitment that happened between families. Once families expressed an interest they were sent a more detailed outline of what the pilot process would involve and more importantly were warned that the pilot needed to take place within a very tight 8 week time frame. Families collected and returned their logbooks to a central point located within the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. We had no face-to-face contact with families prior to the pilot – all arrangements were made via email and online!

The pilot began on 18th of January 2014 and we had 31 children signed up from 21 families. We hoped to have a 50% completion rate. The pilot finished on the 14th of March 2014 and we were delighted to have a 77.4% completion rate and we were delighted to see that all the logbooks met the Discover Arts Award assessment criteria. Of the families that were unable to complete the main reason cited was a lack of time. The Family Friendly staff who are all Arts Award Discover trained worked together to assess the logbooks and then apply online for the Arts Award certificates.

A crafty Family Friendly Fun session

The evaluation:

The evaluation was conducted via a short 10 question survey monkey. We asked parents and carers to give us honest feedback about all areas of the process such as the design of the logbook; provision of Family Friendly sessions and also how much they might have been prepared to pay if we hadn’t offered the logbook and certificates for free… We also allowed parents and carers a chance to suggest how we could improve the process or make any other helpful suggestions they felt might enable us to make the process better in the future. 

On Sunday May 11th we held a celebration event to bring all the families together, return the completed logbooks and, most importantly, present the Discover Arts Award certificates. It was a real party with creative activities, music, object handling, face painting and food and drink for all. We were delighted that Caroline Bray (Museums Lead at Arts Award) was able to come along and present the certificates and it was great to finally meet all the children and their families.

Caroline giving the kids their certificates

Next steps:

We are currently working on making some improvements to the logbook and developing web based support in preparation for a wider roll out of the programme later in 2014. We are hoping that the logbooks will be for sale within the museum shops and to develop dedicated website pages to support families and children who are working with the logbooks.

The Discover Arts Award cohort with their certificates

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