En-Vision Project To Create Youth Friendly Future For Galleries

by Corinne Field | 24 November 2003
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Shows a photograph of a class of schoolchildren sitting on the floor in front of a painting at Manchester Art Gallery.

Photo: galleries have recently been working very hard to encourage children, but en-vision is aimed at young people aged 14 - 21. Courtesy of Manchester Art Gallery.

En-vision is a project that aims to breakdown barriers and encourage more young people to take part in the arts and particularly art galleries.

It is the new brainchild of engage, a charity dedicated to promoting greater access and enjoyment of the visual arts.

En-vision was originally designed to promote 'good practice' with groups of young people considered to be 'at risk'.

However, research by the charity showed that young people in general do not participate much in the arts or art galleries, so the project was extended to include all young people, aged 14 to 21.

Shows a photograph of the exterior of the Royal Pump Rooms.

Photo: the Royal Pump Rooms at Leamington Spa is already involved in the project. Courtesy of The Royal Pump Rooms.

“We hope to give young people who would never have gone near a gallery some really exciting new experiences and give galleries ideas on how to go about attracting young people,” says Christopher Naylor, Director of Engage.

With national policies encouraging social inclusion in the arts the pressure is on galleries to reach out to young people and make a positive contribution to their development.

And this is where en-vision comes in. Through a programme of action-research, managed by engage in partnership with the university of Warwick, en-vision hopes to lay the building blocks for a youth friendly future for galleries.

Nine pilot programmes are taking place in the North West and East and West Midlands, at galleries like Cornerhouse, Manchester Art Gallery and the Royal Pump Rooms. And there are training seminars for gallery professionals planned nationally.

Shows a photograph of the pillars and portico of the entrance to Manchester Art Gallery.

Photo: at Manchester Art Gallery young people are being asked to comment on galleries through film and photography. Courtesy of Manchester Art Gallery.

The pilot programmes are testing out collaborative relationships between galleries, young people and youth support groups. They are asking questions like: ‘What can galleries offer young people? And how are they relevant to young people’s lives?’

Christopher Naylor says that on the one hand the pilot projects are consultative. He says, “They are not about telling young people what to do but about working with them to develop ideas.”

At Manchester Art Gallery they have taken a much more creative approach. Young people are being asked to comment on galleries through film and photography and are making suggestions on how galleries can become more young-people friendly.

Shows a photograph of the exterior of the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham.

Photo: the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham is one of the numerous galleries taking part on the project. Courtesy of the Ikon.

The project is due for completion in March 2005. In the meantime engage hope that their programme of action-research will inform seminars and training events for museum and gallery professionals both regionally and locally.

Other galleries taking part in the pilot scheme include Zion Arts, Ikon, Qube and Nottingham Museums and Galleries.

More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
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