One of Arts Council’s five long term strategic goals is focussed on children and young people. A key priority within this is 'raising the standard work produced by, with and for children and young people'. This is inherently challenging, it raises many issues such as ownership, authenticity, purpose, and who defines ‘excellent’.
To progress this priority, we are working with and though the sector, to tap into the wealth of experience and expertise that abounds, using the Arts Council as a facilitator and convenor. Working with the sector we have developed a 'roadmap' to provide us with key milestones and are taking a number of practical steps including definition of some emerging quality principles.
We began to tease out some quality principles through a national stakeholder conference in Birmingham in December 2011 and you can read about these and more on our Quality update page. From the very outset, we recognised the need to engage in debate with practitioners, partners, and young people. As part of this we are sharing widely the results of our initial research proposing seven ‘quality principles’ and looking for ways to encourage practitioners to experiment with them to find out how they might be put into practice. In case you haven’t seen them, the proposed quality principles are:
- striving for excellence
- emphasising authenticity
- being inspiring, and engaging
- ensuring a positive child-centred experience
- actively involving children and young people
- providing a sense of personal progression
- developing a sense of ownership and belonging
We have made good progress, with many important questions still to be debated, and are delighted that this week marks the start of the most exciting step on our quality journey so far, with another national event to be held at Sage, Gateshead as part of the city’s wonderful Juice Festival. This quality event has been designed by, led by, and is aimed at, young people and seeks to discover what young people think are the issues and challenges around improving quality. We see this as the essential counterpart to last December’s event and informing the next phase of development.
This week we are also aiming to re-kindle the quality conversation we began this time last year. Through this blog and any other online spaces where there is interest, we hope to generate ideas about how quality principles can be put into practice to drive improvement and excellence. In the New Year we will hold another national event for practitioners (of all ages) designed to stimulate practitioner-led debates and practical experimentation, using the quality principles as a starting point.
So whatever your interest in the issues around quality of art for, by and with young people – please join the discussion by posting comments, publishing ideas on your own blog or webpage, by joining the conversation using #cypquality on Twitter, and keeping an eye out for our next quality event in the New Year.
Posted by Laura Gander-Howe, Director, Children and young people, Arts Council England on 29 October 2012