Tips on How to Work with Heritage and Arts Organisations

The following ten tips were developed through the Virtual Landscape project and have been developed to help youth workers and schools understand how to approach working with the cultural sector.

Learn the local language

Give sufficient time when developing a project to demystify the language and acronyms of heritage and arts organisations. There are local heritage and arts networks, regional development agencies and national heritage funders who all have a lot to say on working with young people.

There are useful resources on these websites:
Arts Council

Learn what you have in common

Through talking to heritage organisations you should be able to learn what you have in common. This might be around supporting young people to develop new skills or learning about their community.

Understand what skills you have
and what support you need

As you develop a firm idea of what you are trying to achieve it should become clear what skills you will need to get you there. This might include skills that you don’t have access to but don’t let this stop you, funding bodies may be able to help or alternatively there may be other agencies that might be able to support you.

Remember to Retain Inclusive Practice

Inclusive practice is important to both youth organisations and heritage groups, every young person should be given the chance to learn and have fun.

Young People take the lead

Young people get the most out of projects when they are allowed to play a role in decision making. Young people should be given the opportunity to take as much of a leadership role as they are comfortable with and be supported through either mentor-ship or peer support programmes.

Innovation and New Ideas

The cultural sector has been delivering work with young people in formal and informal settings for decades. This means that there is a wealth of knowledge bound up in case studies held by funding organisations such as the Arts Council England. These funding agencies are keen to see new ideas and innovative collaborations brought forward to create different opportunities for young people.

Arts Council Case Studies

Safety and Safeguarding

The safety of young people should be paramount throughout the planning and delivery of projects. Heritage and arts organisations should ensure that project staff are suitably DBS checked and have been trained in Safeguarding. Your project plan should recognise this aspect of the planning process and clearly state what the expectations are from the youth group and the cultural sector organisation to keep young people safe.

High Quality Experiences

Young people from all backgrounds should expect to take part in high quality programmes irrespective of their ability, financial circumstances and where they live. Young people should have the opportunity to see high quality exhibitions and events and to engage with heritage professionals who are skilled at providing high quality experiences.

Progression and Legacy

Project should be developed to allow young people to learn and develop their personal and social skills. Wherever possible projects should build upon young people’s previous experiences and enhance their understanding. Allow space within your project for young people to grow and for new ideas to form.

Many funding agencies want to see legacy projects developed out from the activities that they have funded. Talk to your stakeholders and funders about these ideas as they emerge within the project.

Value learning and recognise young people’s work

Build accredited courses into projects (such as Arts Award or ASDAN) to recognise the achievement of young people at all levels. These types of programmes allow young people to identify their own learning outcomes and take control of their own learning.

Some cultural sector organisations work with learning providers to deliver accredited training courses within their own programmes of work.

See also: Arts Awards / ASDAN