My Other Job...

So for my other job as an Artis Specialist I often integrate Arts Award. Read my blog about how the two go neatly hand in hand…

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Being an Artis Specialist, is very different to your average day job. On Monday I was an African dance specialist, a chicken farmer, a polar bear, a ‘horrid child’ from Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate factory and a water cycle rap god. Before lunch.

In my role as a specialist it is my job to bridge education and art, and find a way for children to enjoy a learning experience that is creative, unassuming and individual. No two Artis specialists are exactly the same, so no two sessions will be the same. However something we all believe in is how the arts don’t need to be a separate entity but rather an integral part of our lives, so even if your not the next Michael Jackson, Hofesh Schecter, or Jaqueline Wilson art, in all its forms, is still enjoyable. Creativity is still important. This is a train of thought that marries itself with that of the Arts Award syllabus.

Arts Award is a nationally recognised framework of art based qualifications that inspire young people to nurture their artistic interest. Arts Award is about understanding the arts and realising that the arts are so many things, not just performing, and being an artist is not necessarily being famous. Arts Award broadens children’s understanding of the art sector in the same way that Artis broadens children understanding of their education; by providing an alternative, a creative exploration of the world around them.

Last year I worked in Bradley Green Primary School in Hyde, where I interwove Arts Award into my my Artis specialist delivery. I worked with 180 children from Year 1 to Year 6 and all of them achieved their Arts Award Discover. Below I would like to outline how the different modules of Arts Award Discover, work within Artis sessions.

Part A: Discover

In this part of the award, participants should take part in a range of arts activities in order to widen their experience and understanding of the arts.

As an Artis specialist I work within three performative disciplines; voice, movement, and drama, so really this part of the Arts Award is the easiest. I provide workshops that allow the children to fully explore one discipline at a time, as Arts Award is about experience and not tick-boxing. I like to choose art forms that reflect the theme of the award. For example, the Year 2 class, were looking at Anna Meredith who you may know from BBC Ten Pieces. Anna is a percussive composer, so I chose to run a workshop in dance to one of her compositions and then a body percussion workshop so that the children could experiment with the same compositional tools as the person they were studying. Many Artis specialists have more than one art form up their sleeve so this is just one way that Artis can support your Arts Award delivery in school.

Part B: Find Out

In this part of the award, participants need to find out about artists and their work in order to develop their understanding of arts practise.

It is sometimes easy to forget that all Artis specialists are artists in their own right, and are well connected to the arts world. Depending on the theme of the arts award, I often let the children interview me for this part of the arts award. For the Year 6 group at Bradley Green, I performed an extract from a dance show I was currently working on, and did a brief presentation about my ‘other’ job as a dance artist, showing the group pictures and videos of my work. I then let the children write me a letter, working in a group, with questions about my job. I wrote back to each group, which created a storm of questions, but it meant that the group began to understand the variety of employment there is within just one art form. For Year 2 I organised a Skype interview with Anna Meredith, and took Year 3’s question about working as an actor to the cast of Scuttlers at the Royal Exchange (I was in the play at the time). The cast filmed themselves answering the children’s questions and we watched the videos in my Artis session. As an artist, I am unafraid of other artists and I know where to find them! Your Artis specialist will be the same, so they can really bring this part of Arts Award Discover to life.

Part C: Share

For the final part of the award, participants share what they enjoyed and learnt through the arts award with others. It can be a one-to-one or group activity and can take any form – from explanation to performance.

At Bradley Green I chose to make short films of each groups arts award experience. The films were then shown all together in assembly at the end of the school year, as a mass celebration of what the school had achieved. At other schools, sharing has taken the form of an assembly, a display in the school hall, another class coming to their session a little earlier so that they can watch another classes short performance.

It is part of being an Artis specialist to provide sharing opportunities throughout the year for the children we work with, and we know that this can take a variety of formats that depend of the groups needs and abilities and the time we have in school.

Artis and Arts Award really do go hand in hand, but the creative work that goes on within school already can contribute greatly to the Arts Award. At Bradley Green, I had between 6 – 12 hours with each group and the Arts Award Discover takes a recommended 20 hours. This is why I like to theme my Arts Award projects in the same way that a specialist will theme their sessions to their groups topic.

A great example of how the Artis specialist and class teachers can work together was the Year 5 group at Bradley Green. Their theme was Anglo-Saxons. In class they made Anglo-Saxon jewellery and models of saxon dwellings. As the Arts Award advisor, I photographed the children’s work and this was used as evidence for Part A, taking part in a range of arts activities. It also meant that the award became an integrated part of school life, much in the same way your Artis specialist will become an integrated part of your school.

“I am immensely proud that all of our children from Year 1 to Year 6 have achieved their first National Art Award as a result of the work they have done with Olivia Peers from Artis. The Artis practitioner works with teachers to plan enrichment activities directly linked to the curriculum, taking children to another level of understanding and at the same time developing their personal/interpersonal skills. The activities are demanding but fun and children of all abilities absolutely love it.”

Jane Matthews, Head Teacher at Bradley Green Primary