Working with Galleries
NAWE has been working with engage (the National Association for Gallery Education) and three UK galleries on a new project funded by the Max Reinhardt Charitable Trust. The project aims to support creative writing and literacy work with schools, galleries, art museums and visual art venues.
The inaugural Max Reinhardt Literacy Awards were made to Falmouth Art Gallery, Kettle's Yard in Cambridge, and Manchester City Art Gallery.
NAWE supported the galleries in selecting writers, planning their work with schools, and devising resources for wider dissemination. We are pleased to be publishing those resources here, and further resources will be added as the project continues.
The writers involved in the project were Mike Garry at Manchester City Art Gallery, Mac Dunlop at Falmouth Art Gallery and Claire Collison at Kettle's Yard in Cambridge.
An interim evaluation report suggests very positive findings from the project so far.
The aims of the project were as follows:
1. To employ a creative writer working with a school and a gallery/museum/ venue to deliver a creative writing or literacy project, exploring the venue’s collections, displays or building.
2. The development of resources by creative writers and NAWE, with the school and the gallery/museum/ venue
3. Resources to be shared with the arts and education sectors in order to encourage the greater use of galleries/museums/ venues by schools for creative writing and literacy work
Recognition was given to creative writers who understood and accommodated the needs and perspectives of the pupils, particularly where there could be quite challenging requirements, as one teacher stressed “I think she understood very quickly how to get our children, that was one of my initial concerns – that it could have been far too highbrow for our children, but she made it accessible – not dumbing down but making it accessible. In the class there were lots of kids with no English, she used the visuals, she’s expressive, even those with no English gained a lot.”
Part of the evaluation was concerned with assessing learning between all the parties involved. 100% of curators felt that there had been a two way learning process between themselves, the creative writer and the teacher. After the project, one curator commented “I felt that I’d be more confident to employ a writer to write on a creative programme in the future. [The creative writers’] process was not dissimilar in engaging with visual artists – so that’s something that’s been demystified for me. For Claire it was interesting for her to think about how we move around the house and how we talk about the house – in that very unique space and managing groups.”
Creative writers commented that the programme had increased their ability to work with visual arts within formal education. For one writer, this was by “taking the ideas I’ve learned and applying them appropriately – with more confidence.” Another creative writer stressed that the programme had given them “real confidence, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it’s worked really well – shared learning has helped this project to be successful.”
There is also an article published by one of the writers involved, Claire Collison, in Writing in Education (No. 67, Autumn 2015).