Skip to main content Skip to site map (in footer)

Bridge organisations connect children and young people to arts and culture: Focus on Artswork

  • Date: 16 October 2012
  • Artform: All, Combined arts, Dance, Libraries, Literature, Museums, Music, Theatre, Visual arts
  • Area: South East
Humpty Dumpty Performance for 3-7 yr olds, Ewell Library, Big Dance 2012 Humpty Dumpty Performance for 3-7 yr olds, Ewell Library, Big Dance 2012, Benedict Johnson

The Arts Council has long put children and young people’s chances to experience art and culture at the forefront of our work – from schemes like Artsmark, Arts Awards and Find Your Talent, to the legacy of Creative Partnership.

Since April 2012, we have funded a network of 10 'bridge' organisations through our National portfolio to connect children and young people, schools and communities with the art and culture sector. Artswork in Southampton is the Bridge organisation for the South East.  Royal Opera House in Thurrock is the Bridge organisation for the South East and East, covering Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Essex and North Kent. Norwich and Norfolk Festival is the Bridge organisation for the East of England.

As part of a three-part series, we take a look each of the Bridge organisations: this month, we look at Artswork, in November, we’ll look at the work of Royal Opera House, and in December, we’ll explore what Norwich and Norfolk Festival has been up to.

Artswork and the work of the Bridge

Since taking up the mantle this April, Artswork has been quietly busy. The organisation has developed partnership investments into strategic delivery and is celebrating two major successes: Brighton and Hove City Council’s Young People’s Joint Commissioning Strategy 2012-15 and Hampshire Young Creatives.

The Southampton-based organisation recently also celebrated its 25th birthday. As a national youth arts development agency, Artswork is a leader in transforming the lives of young people through arts and culture.

Rose Kigwana, Relationship Manager, Engagement & Participation, Arts Council England says: ‘The Arts Council believes that arts and culture are crucial for children’s development and wellbeing, and by creating ample opportunities for them to engage, we can ensure that we have a generation of people for whom the arts and culture have a significance role in their quality of life. Artswork brings its expertise of working with young people to the work as a Bridge - the new role is a perfect fit.’

Artswork has been funded with over £1.5 million over three years to be the South East Bridge organisation. Like other Bridge organisations, Artswork shares common responsibilities such as building and facilitating networks across the arts, culture and education, ensuring ongoing dialogue and being the first point of contact for schools that are developing their arts and cultural offer.

Artswork and other Bridge organisations will also help National portfolio organisations and other arts and cultural organisations, including museums and libraries, bring the cultural experiences that they offer to more children and young people and also help organisations identify investment opportunities from local authorities, local businesses, trusts and foundations.

Bridge organisations will also help develop the numbers of children and young people engaging with arts and culture through Artsmark and Arts Award, support the Arts Council's ambition to raise the quality of work for by and with children and young people, and support the work of the new Music education hubs and National Plan for Music Education.

Brighton and Hove City Council’s Young People’s Joint Commissioning Strategy

Jane Bryant, Chief Executive, Artswork says: ‘Brighton and Hove City Council’s Young People’s Joint Commissioning Strategy 2012-2015 is the city’s framework for delivering youth work and activity over the next three years. Our partnership investment will ensure that providers will work strategically and in partnership with arts and cultural organisations to improve the delivery of cultural opportunities for young people within the provision.’

Prior to Artswork’s involvement earlier this summer, there were very limited arts and cultural aspects to the work proposed in the strategy. Now arts and cultural provision will contribute to the broader objectives within the strategy such as young people as active citizens, resilience of young people, family and community stability and young people enjoying their leisure time.

Youth providers will engage young people through arts and culture by working in partnership with a range of high quality arts and cultural organisations and practitioners including Arts Council England National portfolio organisations, arts and cultural organisations, music education hubs and museums and libraries.

Hampshire Young Creatives

Artswork’s other piece of major work as a Bridge has been Hampshire Young Creatives, a new strategic consortium partnership to create a sustainable approach to delivering arts and cultural programmes for children and young people outside of formal educational settings.

Artswork’s investment of £40,000 has been match funded by £110,000 from the other consortium partners, which includes Hampshire County Council Arts and Museums Service, the Council’s Children’s Services; Hampshire Dance; and SOCO Musical Inclusion Programme – which includes Arts Council England National portfolio organisation Anvil Arts.

Ruth Jones, Project Manager, Hampshire Young Creatives says: ‘This is a fantastic joint investment from the Hampshire Young Creatives partners. It means that some of the most marginalised young people in non-mainstream settings can have access to high quality artists and arts organisations and be introduced to arts and cultural venues across the county.

‘For some young people this might be a first time experience. For others, starting on an Arts Award journey will help develop their leadership and communication skills as well as gain a nationally recognised qualification. 

‘It is significant that the partners are looking to the children and young people’s support agencies to be the lead partners for this programme, giving support and guidance around finding and working with the right artists and arts organisations. This helps to develop ownership and confidence in using the arts on a day-to-day basis.

‘Using Arts Award within the programmes gives a good structure for projects, as well as providing measurable outcomes and progression routes for young people, whatever their starting point may be. The new Discover and Explore Arts Award levels means that children from age seven upwards can now begin an Arts Award journey and creates great opportunities for new links with museums and arts organisations in their communities.’

Artswork is looking for cross sector networks (existing or new) to work with them as the South East Bridge to enhance the development of cultural opportunities for children and young people. Deadline 31 October 2012. For more information see