Cultural Partnerships Enrich Linking

12 July, 2023

A country
Transformed by
Bringing Us
Together, Happier,
Healthier. To
Excite, Inspire,
Delight. To
Enrich Our Lives.
(The Arts Council 10-year strategy)

Many of the 27 local areas providing our Schools Linking programmes have developed strong partnerships with local art galleries, museums or theatres over time and as such offer fantastic creative opportunities to linking classes. We are so grateful for the wonderful local connection and support to enrich the programmes. Having such cultural spaces as locations for face-to-face meetings, enables both classes of children to enjoy taking part together in workshops with local artists, visit exhibitions and engage in new artistic experiences at a ‘neutral venue’.As bell hooks said,”The function of art is to do more than tell it like it is – it’s to imagine what is possible.”

Artist, Olafur Eliasson, explains this further in his 2016 World Economic Forum piece, entitled, ‘Why art has the power to change the world.’ He states his belief that “bringing us together to share and discuss a work of art can make us more tolerant of difference and of one another. The encounter with art – and with others over art – can help us identify with one another, expand our notions of we, and show us that individual engagement in the world has actual consequences.”

Here are some examples of how creativity is embedded into Schools Linking programmes from across our Linking Network:

Having already met up at the M6 Theatre in November for their first linking day, classes then had the opportunity to work with a ceramic artist and a singer-songwriter at their class visits. The work they produced together has since been displayed at their local museum – Touchstones – so that families can visit over the summer holidays. Whilst looking at the artworks they are able to listen to the songs children created.

Year 5 classes across Bristol engaging in Schools Linking were welcomed into the Royal West of England Academy in Bristol, where they worked together to collaboratively create visions for a Bristol where everyone can belong.
Bristol Schools Linking, which launched in 2020, has also been supported by partners including the Arnolfini Bristol’s International Centre for Contemporary Arts.

Other classes were hosted by St Paul’s Carnival, where children learnt together about Windrush and the history of their local Carnival.

Leicester & Leicestershire:
The University of Leicester’s Attenborough Arts Centre have hosted linking classes this year offering 16 classes the opportunity to collaborate on the building of large cardboard bridges whilst exploring the behaviours and actions required for building an inclusive society. Local artists took the vision and ethos of Schools Linking and created the activity to be a physical representation of the aims of the project.The children also had the opportunity to visit the various exhibitions whilst they were there and for most this was their first time in an art gallery. Making art accessible to all our children and showing them it is something they can do is important in growing artists of the future from all communities and backgrounds.

In Oldham, pairs of linking classes explore Gallery Oldham, learning about the history of their city. Having explored the banners made by the local unions on display, they then use this inspiration to create their own banners, working together with their linking class. These banners celebrate the themes of identity, similarities and differences and Oldham’s heritage. At a wonderful recent celebration event, the mayor and local councillors joined with pupils, teachers and gallery staff to acknowledge the incredible work achieved by those involved in Schools Linking this year.

Luton Schools Linking has been supported for over a decade by Luton Culture Trust Pairs of Linking Classes visit Stockwood Discovery Centre , explore the wonderful transport exhibition together and then use the giant Meccano to work together to build a carriage.

Newcastle and Gateshead
The education team at the Laing Gallery in Newcastle and the Shipley Art Gallery in Gateshead has hosted the Newcastle and Gateshead Schools Linking Programme since 2019 with assemblies and exciting workshops for first meetings between pairs of classes. Art work created in the past has included ‘doodle board maps’ – where pupils from the two linked classes work together to think about the world they live in, their similarities and differences and ‘How we can all live well together’.

Bury Art Museum have enabled over 300 pupils this year to meet, make connections and take part in a range of collaborative art workshops. The positive impact on those involved has been wide and varied. ‘I feel so calm in this space,’ said one Year 5 child during their linking day. A parent helper on the trip responded,“It’s been amazing you’ve done an amazing job. It’s the first time in 40 years I’ve enjoyed being in a museum”. A Teaching Assistant meanwhile has also benefited from the opportunity, ‘It’s the first time I’ve ever been into this museum. I used to get the bus outside it as a little girl. I’ll be back with my partner”.

Engaging in art can be transformative; the Arts Council 10 year strategy explains how it allows us “to reflect and comment on society, to better understand our own lives and those of others, and to occupy a shared space in which we can debate, present alternative views, and discover new ways of expressing our anxieties and ambitions.”
As a network we are incredibly grateful for all the exciting ongoing partnerships that enrich our programmes across the country and enable schools to offer high-quality creative – experiences to their pupils and students. Getting involved in such activities as a part of a Schools Linking programme gives children and young people experiences they may not normally have. These artistic and creative opportunities benefit their health and well being and also help to build and strengthen ties within local communities.
If you would like to find out more about the cultural partnerships that enrich our Schools Linking programmes or learn more about the Schools Linking process more generally, please visit our website or get in touch directly with the nearest local programme if there is one near you or contact us directly here.

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