Welcome to the quality conversation – Amy Turton, Officer, Policy Development, Arts Council England

People in the arts, culture and youth sectors are posting their ideas on this blog, and we hope you will share your own experiences. Find out more about the Arts Council’s work in this area on our website.  If you want to submit a guest post yourself just tell us in a comment.

Aside | This entry was posted in Quality arts and young people, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Welcome to the quality conversation – Amy Turton, Officer, Policy Development, Arts Council England

  1. Emrys Green says:

    Hi Amy,
    You say this blog is for the practitioners to post thoughts – and I will certainly contribute when I have a minute to form a coherent article, but is there anywhere for young people to submit thoughts at all? I’d like to signpost some to contribute..

    Many thanks,

  2. Jonathan Petherbridge says:

    Dear Amy,

    You probably know about the triangulated peer review process that some of us are trialling under the Connected Culture banner – if not let us tell you about it.

    London Bubble recently hosted a conference on inter-generational performance and dance, Ages and Stages. It was attended by a wide range of people – participants, artists, academics and critics and seemed to hit a nerve. The report of the day can be read here –


    Jonathan Petherbridge
    Creative Director, London Bubble

  3. Julie Ward says:

    I would like to see this debate extend to include youth theatre work which is often amongst the most engaging, imaginative and high quality work I ever see – and I am a theatre addict – I go to everything! Youth theatre is a rich breeding ground for emerging practitioners and these young theatre makers know more than we do about theatre for young audiences as they have been engaging as audiences AND participants from a young age! Sadly there is still an elite in the arts sector who believe that youth theatre must be ‘crap’ by definition and won’t give it space (real or virtual, printed inches or broadcast time). When I asked recently if a youth theatre show (funded by the BBC and Youth Music which had started life as a project with the Mercury-nominated band The Unthanks) could simply have a listing in a new writing e-alert I was told it was not appropriate!!!!! The writer of the show had recently completed a Masters in Creative Writing, graduating with distinction, and this was her first professional commission. What more do we have to do to do, I wonder? This is the old guard we have to fight against and convince – they are in our own ranks!

  4. I think there is an interesting question for all organisations in how we translate quality principles into practice. The more complex the specifics of your situation, the more people involved in decision making at all levels, and the more disciplines you cross, it becomes ever more important to describe accurately what a quality learning experience looks like within your context. At Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (TWAM) we have embarked on a process to try to untangle this for everyone involved in planning, delivering, managing and thinking about learning. The aim is to create a very specific shared understanding of what the quality we are striving for is, which will of course develop as we become ever more engaged in articulating it. We are trying to define which elements of our good practice most influence quality, and to identify and isolate these factors in such a way that they can be managed and apllied more routinely across the whole service. We are assimilating a lot of the principles around quality which already exist (Learning Outside the Classroom Quality badge, HMIE How Good Is Our School, NFER 2012 quality report etc) and also drawing on how our thinking developed over the last few years running Creative Partnerships in Northumberland, Newcastle Gateshead and leading the NE Renaissance Learning team.

    What this will involve in practice is getting very forensic about what is actually going on in each learning situation, and being able to identify what are the markers of high quality museum learning in practice. The next step is then to devise the organisational mechanisms (training, observation, exchange etc) where all those involved in managing learning, who are not necessarily learning specialists, can recognise what to look for and contribute actively to quality development. As a diagnostic tool involving self evaluation and peer review, this system will help us identify where excellent practice already exists and is not as recognised or understood as it should be, and also make visible where there are barriers to quality being achieved, which we can then begin to address.

    There is a whole heap of work involved in very specifically describing the difference between something that is almost there and something that actually is – so for example, in looking to see if an activity supports ‘imaginative use of objects’, this may seem to be apparent where learners go and look at an object in a gallery and then go to a learning space to develop a creative response. But in that one situation, there are a whole other set of factors that determine whether that really is an imaginative or unimaginative use of collections in the activity. This is what we are trying to break down, in order to get closer to what really excellent practice looks like. Many of our learning team know and apply these principles intuitively in hundreds of ways each day – articulating them fully is a big challenge, but one that we are up for.

    I’d be interested in learning if this has been tackled in other arts / culture sectors, or if there are interesting ways that organisations address this? I am also beginning to appreciate that just when you think ‘what has taken us so long?’, it turns out somebody already answered these big questions somewhere around 1978…so if there are any lost civilizations of quality development for museum learning out there, would you mind pointing us the right way?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s