Art Inspiring Change © Jason Pay
© Jason Pay

Hearts for the Arts Shortlist: Thanet District Council, Art Inspiring Change

Shortlisted in the inaugural National Campaign for the Arts/What Next? Hearts for the Arts Awards 2017 for Best Local Authority Arts Project encouraging community cohesion.

Art Inspiring Change is Turner Contemporary’s pioneering child-led programme, partnering with Thanet District Council and funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, The Art Fund and Southeastern Trains.

80 children from four primary schools in Margate have become Young Arts Leaders, supported by their chosen artists, a philosopher, gallery staff and the wider community. They will inspire the whole town to engage with art, transforming Margate through physical and social change.

Taking part in weekly art and philosophy sessions, the children are exploring leaderships and how they will use creativity to transform physical spaces and attitudes in Margate. As part of the project, 40 parents and/or carers are taking part in a City & Guilds accredited Creative Enablers course, giving them the practical, listening, thinking, and communication skills to help the children take the lead.

To test their leadership skills, the YALs hosted an Art Inspiring Change Take-over day at the gallery on 11 June. They succeeded in planning and leading an extremely successful participatory, large scale event that was attended by over 2,200 people.

Led by Rob Kenyon, Director of Community Services at Thanet District Council, the Young Art Leaders, teachers, artists, philosopher and gallery staff were invited to Thanet Council Chambers to meet local councillors and council staff. The children presented their proposals for pieces of disused land in Margate locations mostly close to their schools. They received valuable feedback and overwhelming support for the project as it moves forward.

On 31 October, seven Young Art leaders launched the gallery’s Social Value research at an event at The Houses of Parliament with the Children’s Commissioner for England, who has been invited to Margate to meet local children and understand more about their lives.   The Council and Turner Contemporary are currently applying for funding to take Art Inspiring Change to other communities in Thanet, benefitting many more children and adults.

What the judges had to say:

David Lan, playwright and director: “An inspirational project that connects to and vitalises a whole town”