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Engage is the lead advocacy and training network for gallery education.

We support arts educators, organisations and artists to work together with communities in dynamic, open exchanges that give everyone the opportunity to learn and benefit from the arts.

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Engaging with young people in Wales

Summer Arts Colleges

In August 2016, Engage Cymru worked in partnership with Unitas supporting 14 children and young people from Parc Prison Youth Offending Institute and Hillside Secure Unit to achieve Bronze Level Arts Award. These pilot interventions were generously funded by the Foyle Foundation.

Click here to view documentation including the project evaluation report plus presentations and films from the Unlocking Potential event

“The artists brought in a focus and helped the young people achieve good results.” Education Manager, Hillside Secure Unit

Wales-based artists Tom Goddard, Anna Barratt, Pip Lewis and Simone Bizzell-Browning devised innovative, intensive visual arts interventions using the young peoples’ interests as the starting point encouraging them to engage in a wide range of creative activities aimed at raising motivation levels, increasing self-esteem, developing research, numeracy, digital and literacy skills.

“He (young person) made a powerful piece of work….you could see his sense of pride and achievement.” 
Artist, Parc

The learning for the young people, the artists, the Unit staff and others is extensive, and Engage Cymru has published an evaluation report on the project (scroll to end). This work builds on the successful Engage Cymru Reach the Heights and Momentum projects.

Ways of Living
“We were offering ways of living, informal lessons on how to cope with life outside by building interests, concentration, powers of perception while widening inspiration.” 
Thomas Goddard, artist, Engage Cymru arts intervention 2016

These reflections resonate loudly with the underlying principles of the recently published Taylor Review which advocates the importance of engaging young offenders in meaningful, enjoyable, motivating and productive activity to help them reach their potential and break cycles of re-offending.

The arts have the power to do this. For three weeks in August 2016, funded by the Foyle Foundation and managed by Engage Cymru in partnership with Unitas, six young people at Hillside Secure Unit, Neath and eight young people at Bridgend Parc Prison YOI were engaged in intensive visual arts interventions - ‘Summer Arts Colleges’ - led by four exceptional Wales-based artists. Literacy, numeracy, digital and research skills were innovatively woven into a wide range of stimulating activities inspired by the young peoples’ interests, which motivated them to turn up for sessions, even when external factors seemed destined to prevent this.

Without exception and against a hugely challenging backdrop, all the young people achieved Bronze Level Arts Award. The overwhelming sense of pride and self-esteem displayed by the young people was tangible and life affirming. The learning from these projects is now available in a final evaluation report.

Images: Pip Lewis & Tracy Spencer Jones

Unlocking Potential

In September 2017 Engage Cymru delivered ‘Unlocking Potential’ – an ACW funded training event in partnership with Denbighshire County Council and Helfa Gelf, along with a toolkit aimed at artists working with young people in secure environments and those at risk. The event brought together over 40 delegates from the arts, education and youth justice sectors in England and Wales to hear about best practice in engaging vulnerable and disengaged young people through the visual arts.

Speakers included Dusty Kennedy, Head of Youth Justice Board Wales speaking about the Youth Justice Review (the Charlie Taylor Review), and opportunities this may open up for the arts sector; The National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance, and artists Pip Lewis and Simone Bizzell-Browning ran a practical session on delivering Arts Award.

"It was great to hear professional artists describing their work in a really friendly and informal way. They were very thoughtful in sharing their experiences." 
Event Attendee 

A key outcome from the event is that Dusty Kennedy, Director of the Youth Justice Board in Wales will now explore with Engage Cymru and others how to develop a national approach to the arts in youth justice settings in Wales.

"I now have a greater understanding of where the arts sit and the power to transform and our part in that." 
Event Attendee  

Download Unlocking Potential event presentations (PDFs) here:
 - Dusty Kennedy
 - Ronda Gowland-Pryde
 - Angela Rogers
 - Angela Lucas

 - Download the Summer Arts Colleges Evaluation Report


Unlocking Potential - Dusty Kennedy, Director Youth Justice Board Cymru from Engage on Vimeo.

Unlocking Potential - Dr Ronda Gowland-Pryde, John Hansard Gallery from Engage on Vimeo.

Unlocking Potential - Angela Rogers, Engage Cymru from Engage on Vimeo.

Unlocking Potential - Angela Lucas, Development Manager, Clinks from Engage on Vimeo.

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