Mon 23 May 2022
Working with Galleries
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Kettle's Yard
Falmouth Art Gallery
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Working with Galleries

MaxLiteracy Awards (formerly known as The Max Reinhardt Literacy Awards)

The MaxLiteracy Awards were conceived by the Max Reinhardt Charitable Trust in memory of the publisher, Max Reinhardt. The programme has been developed with the support of Engage, the National Association for Gallery Education, and the National Association of Writers in Education (NAWE) to enable galleries, art museums and visual arts venues to support a dedicated programme of creative writing and literacy work with schools. The Awards are funded by the Max Reinhardt Charitable Trust, with additional support from the Ernest Cook Trust.

24 May 2021  Recipients of the MaxLiteracy Awards 2021 announced: Open Eye Gallery, Newark & Sherwood District Council and The Turnpike

We are delighted to announce the host venues for the 2021 MaxLiteracy Awards. This year three venues, Open Eye Gallery, Newark & Sherwood District Council and The Turnpike, have been awarded £8,000 to employ a creative writer to work with a local school on a creative writing or literacy project, taking inspiration from the venue’s collections, displays or building.

The activities will lead to the development of a new resource for each venue, designed to encourage engagement with the venue through creative writing. These will be widely shared within the arts and education sectors to encourage the greater use of galleries, art museums and visual arts venues by schools for creative writing and literacy work.

In response to the global health emergency the 2021 call out for venues had an adapted focus. The awards invited galleries, museums, and visual arts venues to propose activity that aims to support the mental health and wellbeing of children, young people or young adults through creative writing, literacy and the visual arts.

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The inaugural awards, in 2014-15, were made to Falmouth Art Gallery, Kettle's Yard in Cambridge, and Manchester City Art Gallery.

An article by one of the writers involved, Claire Collison, was published in Writing in Education No. 67

A second series of awards were made in 2016-17 to York Art Gallery, Leeds Contemporary Art Gallery, and the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art.

An article describing each project in depth appears in Writing in Education No. 73.

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.

An interim evaluation report suggests very positive findings from the project so far. 

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.”