The importance of making 'a statement of commitment to arts and culture' with Artsmark

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The Bridge organisation for Yorkshire and the Humber, CapeUK, is dedicated to making the arts and cultural offer to children and young people more accessible and better joined up. This role is replicated around the country by nine other Bridge organisations. Artsmark is an important tool in the Bridge kit, and CapeUK is maximising its use.

Artsmark is the Arts Council's programme, delivered by Trinity College London, that helps schools, colleges and youth justice settings to evaluate, strengthen and celebrate their arts and cultural provision. From CapeUK's perspective it supports our work by advocating the value of the arts and culture and enhancing access, quality and progression for children and young people.

Take advocacy. When a school decides to put its energies into Artsmark, it makes a statement of commitment to arts and culture. Many teachers describe how working with colleagues on the process has raised the profile of the arts within their school. Getting down to brass tacks - one of the Artsmark criteria specifies the proportion of time that schools and other settings must allocate to the arts. That's particularly important given the trajectory of current curriculum and qualification reform. Going beyond the walls, Artsmark focuses attention on how arts provision reaches local communities, how schools and settings support each other and, importantly, on the quality of interactions with professional artists and arts and cultural organisations.

This isn't a sales pitch! CapeUK knows of schools with excellent arts and cultural practice that have chosen not to apply for Artsmark. Cliché alert! All schools with Artsmark have excellent arts and cultural practice, but not all schools with excellent arts and cultural practice have Artsmark.

The passion and commitment of schools, and of the arts and cultural organisations that support them, is truly something to celebrate. That's what CapeUK did in January when we brought together many of the 138 Yorkshire and the Humber schools and settings that achieved Artsmark in 2012. For those who couldn't make it to York Theatre Royal, we provided a live stream. To ensure we captured achievements from right across our large region,  we incorporated video footage and a live link up. The event made a big statement about the achievements of the schools and setting in Yorkshire and the Humber and an even bigger statement about the value of arts and culture to the lives of all children and young people. And it's those children and young people who are the creators and audiences of our future. The story of the event is captured on our website, or you can watch the highlights below:

'Believe in what you’re doing, and shout loud about it!' implored Cath Lennon, Headteacher of Brigshaw High School and Language College, of the audience. Let's do that! A new group of schools and settings is, or could be, starting their Artsmark process. Individual artists and arts and cultural organisations are, or could be, working with them. Let's tell those stories, share the progress made and the frustrations we encountered, reflect on what it means to be doing this in the current climate....  and shout very loud indeed about why it's important and what we achieve.

This post was written by Rosie Marcus, Director of Programme, Partnership and Quality at CapeUK.

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