While 2021 has certainly thrown us all more hurdles to overcome, we’re incredibly proud of the work we have achieved despite these trying times. Our Bridge team have supported 243 schools and 311 arts and culture organisations in Yorkshire and the Humber through professional development, partnerships, micro-commissions and 1-2-1 support.
In the past twelve months, we’ve welcomed new staff and associates to our Bridge team. We’ve expanded our reach into Hull and the Humber by hiring a Cultural Education Manager to champion that area. We have also been joined by new associates for North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire to help us build more links within the region. Our team continues to go from strength to strength with the wealth of knowledge and expertise they bring to our programme.
At the beginning of the year, we recognised the need to support those in the creative sector who had suffered a significant loss of income and work in schools through the pandemic. We delivered a series of new CPD sessions focused on digital facilitation skills and strategies to support wellbeing. We awarded 21 micro-commissions to give research and development time to creative practitioners so they could explore new ways to work with schools through the pandemic. We’re delighted to see such a wide range of quality offers developed through the commissions, geared towards boosting wellbeing, remote partnerships and bridging learning gaps. We have recently awarded a further 15 micro-commissions to creative practitioners who want to better understand the needs and interests of a group of young people they’ve never had the chance to work with before.
Wellbeing and mental health have certainly been on the minds of everyone after a tough two years. Our A-Z Wellbeing cards have already made significant impacts on children and young people in nearly 100 settings, both in and out of school. And while schools have been grappling with a new normal, knowing where to access funding to support their creative activities can be difficult. Our continued delivery of Funding for Schools CPD this year has seen some brilliant success stories, like Becky from Beck Primary School, who secured £30,000 for her school community after attending these sessions. This year also saw the extension of our Bags of Creativity programme, where we delivered another 350 bags of arts and crafts resources for young people through five foodbanks across the region.
2021 marked Artsmark’s 20th anniversary. To help celebrate, we hosted five events and shared three guest blogs from Artsmark schools and partners, while spotlighting schools on our social media. Our Artsmark consortiums in Sheffield and Rotherham continued to meet regularly throughout the year and we look forward to the launch of Bradford’s Artsmark consortium in early 2022.
We’ve seen a huge surge in children and young people achieving one or more of their Arts Awards since April this year, particularly at Bronze and Silver level. We’ve supported many organisations and schools that were unable to offer the awards at the height of the pandemic to start back up again. Many schools have signed up to offer Arts Award this year through initiatives such as ‘Discover at Home’ for children and their families and Little Amal’s walk, exploring the story of displaced refugee children. We commissioned a fantastic series of creative activity films from artists in the region to help adults and families take part in quality creative experiences at home or in school.
The 15 Cultural Education Partnerships across our region continue to make a real difference to the creative and cultural offer in their local area. Nine of the Partnerships have received partnership investment funds through IVE, which will help turn their ambitions for children and young people into a reality over the next year or two. We hope the rest will follow the same path over the next few months. We’ve recently started to develop a new strategic partnership for rural North Yorkshire which will mean every town, city and village in Yorkshire and the Humber will be covered by one of the 16 Cultural Education Partnerships in the region. We continue to support all the Partnerships in a variety of ways, helping them embed into the local infrastructure, put their plans into action and flourish in their growing independence. At the moment, we are encouraging them all to explore quality, inclusion and relevance through IVE’s reflective labs, supporting them to become robust, high quality, future focused partnerships, that represent the communities they serve.
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