This Award, run in partnership with Engage, annually celebrates the achievements of individuals working in learning and education within gallery or visual arts contexts who have shown innovation and dedication to their work.
Colleagues are invited to nominate deserving co-workers every summer. The Award is open to those working in both the UK and internationally and is to be spent on the professional development of the nominee.
Nominations are judged by a panel consisting of representatives of Engage, the MCT, and colleagues from the sector.
Hannah Pillai, Taneesha Ahmed, Jude Wood, Grace Todd, Bethany Mitchell and Marco Peri 2018
Hannah shows dedication and commitment to the Learning Team every day. She has single-handedly developed the Young Ambassador programme at the Attenborough Arts Centre, recruiting young people from across the city and providing them with high quality arts experiences. The Ambassadors have curated two exhibitions, hosted movie nights, taken trips to other venues and assisted with launch nights. Hannah has built great relationships with the young people and their parents and is committed to making the group as inclusive as possible. She goes above and beyond for the Learning Team and leads countless school tours, tailoring each one to the group and ensuring that they get the best possible experience.
The Tetley is a thriving cultural venue that engages audiences on its doorstep through animated programmes of participatory activity, and since starting in January, Taneesha has focussed on making the programmes more inclusive. She has been successful in engaging practitioners from less formal backgrounds to take up free training and development which had previously been popular amongst graduating arts students. Taneesha has also developed a project to make a collaborative film with schools in Leeds and Pakistan to imagine libraries of the future. Her creativity, sensitivity and commitment is clear in all the work she does, and she is an advocate for encouraging young people to develop their creativity no matter what barriers they face economically.
Jude has created a special project to engage young parents and their children in the visual arts in the hard to reach localities of upper Denbigh and Rhyl. She worked with Family Link Officers to identify the families who are involved and used arts of various mediums to introduce pre-school children to different creative experiences. The project encouraged team work, confidence building, and problem solving and helped bond the parents and children as the children transitioned into primary school. Jude showed patience, understanding, humour and dedication in making sure that those on the edges of society have the opportunity to participate in visual arts activity and gain all the positive outcomes that come with it.
Throughout her career, Grace has worked intensely with community groups to improve economic, physical and social well-being through learning programmes at the National Museum, Cardiff. Her dedication has been epitomised through her work with homeless charity, the Wallich, to deliver an exhibition of contemporary art called ‘Who Decides’. Service users worked on every aspect of the exhibition, have become advocates for contemporary art and have grown in confidence. Members of the group now volunteer at the Museum and mentor new volunteers which has helped them learn transferable skills which can lead to employment opportunities. Through this programme, Grace has created institutional change, which is now creating a wider impact on the sector as she actively shares her learning and experience with others.
Bethany works as an artist, educator, coordinator and manager and joined the team at the MK Gallery in 2015 bringing a wealth of enthusiasm and expert knowledge. Her innovative thinking has influenced many programmes at the Gallery and her ability to bridge all kinds of social gaps between artists and audiences makes her a highly valued member of the team. In 2018, Bethany became Curator of Inclusion at the Gallery and launched a new Family Programme for audiences with complex needs, which breaks down barriers to people connecting with visual arts.
Marco is an art historian, museum educator and researcher. He works in a freelance capacity to train art professionals on how to create a better connection between the public and museum and art collections. He designs and delivers resources such as performative guided tours and the involvement of imaginative resources. Marco has worked in collaboration with a number of institutions including the National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome, Palazzo Grassi in Venice and innovAction Cult in Milan.
Molly joined the Royal Academy in 2012 and since has increased the number of activities that the gallery offers for disabled people and those facing barriers to participation. She has introduced workshops for families with SEN children, a conference for those who work with SEN children, evenings for disabled artists to present their work and workshops for people with dementia. Molly has expanded and refined the Access and Communities programme at the Royal Academy so that it now focuses on creating a community of people who are engaged with art.
Juliette has over 20 years’ experience of working in arts and heritage education and is currently Learning and Engagement Curator of Photoworks in Brighton. She has recently introduced a Continuing Professional Development programme for teachers and has attracted over 315,000 visitors to the gallery with the Brighton Photo Biennial programme, 40% of which focused on children and young people. Juliette was also heavily involved in working with LGBTQ+ communities to build a contemporary peer youth archive.
Litza has studied and worked in galleries all around the world, most recently creating pioneering and innovative programmes at the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest, including creating an ABC book for the Museum’s collection to be used as a resource for art education. She was the lead on introducing The Big Draw campaign to Hungary and encouraged 120 museums across the country to take part. Litza also introduces the programme DepARTures, a framework for language teaching based on art which interrogates contemporary issues and encourages young people to express their ideas in a safe environment.
Gina has, through the Youth Panel, worked with a number of galleries over the past two years including Nottingham Contemporary, New Walk Museum and Art Gallery and the National Justice Museum. She has produced collaborative projects in gallery and community settings which showcase her interest in art, education and human rights. Gina’s institutional impact has gone beyond what is expected of her role to influencing the strategic thinking of organisations around learning, allowing new audiences to engage in gallery spaces.
Holly joined the Tramway Gallery in Glasgow two years ago to support the learning programme during the 2015 Turner Prize. Since then in her role as Artist and Public Engagement Coordinator, she has developed the TRYOUT programme as a legacy, giving the local community the opportunity to experience contemporary art in free drop-in sessions. Holly has previously worked at Firstsite Gallery in Colchester and the Norwich Arts Centre and has over 15 years’ experience in the field.
Ben Thomas, Emma Kerr, Kenn Taylor, Adele Patrick and Merilee Mostov
Ben is Assistant Curator of Learning and Participation at the Arnolfini where he has created a new model of engagement where students can work collaboratively with practicing artists, architects and writers to create ambitious projects and experiment with ideas connected to social change and hold large scale exhibitions in the gallery to showcase the partnership. He has also instigated a schools’ membership scheme providing opportunities for Arnolfini to connect with schools in the community.
Emma is Head of Education at the Roche Court Educational Trust, working with teachers, young people and specialist groups to develop confidence and skills by looking, thinking and speaking about art. Emma is a passionate advocate for the involvement of state school students in galleries, art history and art making and has launched many initiatives which encourage tailored approaches so that they can be involved with the gallery.
Kenn is Head of Participation at The Tetley where he has developed a number of activities for the local community where there are high levels of deprivation. He runs an After-School Art Club for children from 4 primary schools in Leeds, a new arts programme for teenagers and has worked with students from the local High School on a wide range of projects. Kenn is passionate about widening participation at the gallery and ensuring that The Tetley becomes more and more inclusive.
Adele is Lifelong Learning Manager at Glasgow Women’s Library where she has developed an effective and unique programme reaching women from all backgrounds who have never accessed or participated in the visual arts and connecting them with artists in Glasgow and beyond. Her passion and belief in the power of art has led to a programme that gives women the encouragement, tools and confidence to create and exhibit their own work.
Merilee is Chief Engagement Officer at the Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio where she is responsible for visitor experience and engagement. She ensures that visitors are given opportunities to connect to the art and each other through interpretive strategies and participatory experiences, including an exercise which encourages them to ‘think like artists. Merilee is also responsible for the Chase Centre for Creativity where she curates exhibitions and takes risks that other curators could not.
Beth Frazer, Daniel McCabe, Victoria Mayes, Caitlin Page and Georgia Close
Beth has delivered a community programme entitled ‘Ways of Seeing, A Sense of Place’ during her traineeship at the Mid Antrim Museums Service. The programme aims to highlight the heritage of Mid Antrim through the museum’s art collections. She has helped deliver digital technology to engage new audiences and has presented on the developments of the programme at various conferences and has been invited to write for the Irish Museums Association Journal.
Daniel works in youth engagement through digital media at the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery in Swansea. He has helped deliver family workshops and programmes for young people not in education, training or employment, delivered a school’s programme and worked with over 55’s and adults with special needs.
Victoria has worked at the MK Gallery since 1999, delivering a number of learning programmes, including the Lost and Found youth forum, an off-site gallery education programme as well as an early year’s programme. As Head of Learning, she has established a new learning team and learning strategy to help empower participants through creative cultural projects.
Caitlin is Learning Programme Manager at The Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh and has initiated work at the gallery which engages young people who are not in education, training or employment. Her initiative, the Fresh Fruits Programme, helps to engage these young people with the gallery. She has provided training for staff on equality and diversity and her interest in providing opportunities for deaf audience has led her to research the possibility of an integrated programme for deaf people.
Georgia is Student & Teacher Engagement Manager at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Australia where she supports 26 artist educators, three programme coordinators and the Teachers Advisory Council who help shape the museum’s education programme. She develops education programmes in the arts and long-term relationships with the schools she works with.
Jack Brown, Vicky Chapter, Rhonda Gowland-Pryde and Sian Hughes
Jack is a freelance artist educator at the Saatchi Gallery, where he has worked with a variety of participants and provided invaluable support to the education department through his dedication and his ability to make the artwork and projects relevant to all visitors. Jack is also Director for Learning at the Hackney Wicked Arts Festival where he has developed an education programme. He shows great energy in his work and has gone above and beyond the remit of his role in supporting and nurturing artists.
Vicky leads the education programme at Aspex Visual Arts Trust, having first joined as a volunteer in 2009. She has developed a number of projects including Aspex Greenspace, a community garden and art space for the local community. She has led a partnership project to enable young offenders and vulnerable young people to engage with contemporary art. Vicky also continues to develop the gallery’s work with children with Autism and special educational needs, working with specialist schools and units.
Rhonda is Head of Education at the John Hansard Gallery and is a dedicated advocate for the Arts Award with young people who have offended, working with more than 200 young offenders. Her interest in this area encouraged her to embark on part-time doctoral research on the value of contemporary art learning in restorative work with young people. In 2012, Rhonda established the innovative weekly Arts Award programme with the Southampton Youth Offending Service and helping it to achieve its Artsmark status.
Sian is an artist and tutor for the Lost in Arts project, designed for people with dementia aged 50 and older, as well as their family members and carers. The aim of the project is to explore the effect of visual arts on issues experienced by people with dementia such as social isolation, confidence, communication and quality of life and wellbeing. The project has proved very successful and received praise from organisations including the Alzheimer’s Society, Bangor University’s Dementia Services Development Centre as well as the participants themselves.
Clare Gittings, Ella Phillips, Lisa Jacques and Jenny Mellings
Clare is Learning Manager at the National Portrait Gallery, but has been involved since 1989 when she was the sole person delivering the Schools Programme. The Programme now reaches 15,000 schoolchildren and 2,000 group leaders each year. Until 2011, Clare ran a national video conferencing programme and the National Museum Online Learning Project, enabling thousands of pupils to participate in sessions each month. She has now retired from her role and plans to volunteer at the Museum of Childhood.
Ella is Education Manager at the October Gallery, where she has developed learning programmes to support families, visiting prisoners and trafficked women. She has devised training programmes for artists and volunteers, organised education symposiums and developed partnerships with cultural, educational and third sector organisations. Ella’s dedication has meant that she has secured over £20,000 to further develop the education programme at the gallery.
Lisa is Learning Officer for Contemporary Art at Leicester City Council, working on the digital learning programme with young people at the New Walk Museum and Art Gallery and developing a strategic partnership with Leicester College. She has developed a photography project through classroom teaching and museum visits, exhibiting students’ work across the city and online. The programme is an example of innovative practice and Lisa is an inspiration to those she has worked with and supported.
Jenny is Freelance Artist Educator at Spacex, a contemporary art gallery in Exeter. She has been running children’s workshops since 1991 and encouraged a formal education programme to be established at the gallery. Jenny has organised a number of opportunities for the artwork of young people to be displayed at the gallery, and some of their work has gone on to win awards and be on display to millions. She has had a real impact on the young people she has supported and many of them have gone on to study art in higher education.
Angela Blackwell, Rebecca Graham, Tim Johnson and Amanda Phillips
Angela is a curator at the Thelma Hulbert Gallery and has been involved in delivering most aspects of it’s work, including the education programme, along with a team of volunteers. She works with schools, families, community and organisations such as Mind which enables vulnerable groups and individuals to access the gallery. Angela has been key in introducing local residents and visitors to contemporary art. She has built an excellent relationship with the local authority, secured funding for the gallery from Arts Council England and successfully doubled the size of the gallery, which now includes a designated learning centre.
Rebecca has been involved with the King’s Lynn Arts Centre for three years in a number of different roles. As a volunteer, she assisted with the Saturday Art Club and the Children’s Summer School, before being selected for the Creative Apprentices scheme which is funded by Arts Council England. Rebecca works closely with artists, gallery educators, curators and teachers and takes a key role in forming partnerships between the centre and schools and the community. She now works as a freelance tutor and is involved in delivering the Arts Award pilot for 7-11 year olds at the centre.
Tim has been a freelance Gallery Educator and Workshop Tutor at Quay Arts since 2003, making a significant contribution to making education work at the centre central to the ethos of the organisation. He has developed a series of exhibitions with children and young people in the centre’s Learning Curve Gallery and has also provided support for sixth form students building their portfolios and the opportunity for them to curate exhibitions. In 2012, Tim delivered an ambitious project to create a landscape panorama with school students and a youth group inspired by Hockney’s ‘A Bigger Picture’
Amanda has worked at Leeds Art Gallery as a Learning and Access Officer since November 1991, supporting the Gallery to become progressive and place education and learning at the centre of the organisation. Over the last three years, Amanda has developed and grown a family learning space within the Gallery, which is loved by families and hosts a range of activities. The Gallery welcomes around 6,000 schoolchildren a year and over 46,000 general visitors. They host a collection of art from the 19th to 21st Century as well as a temporary exhibition programme which displays contemporary art.
Karen Eslea, Tom Goddard, Sylvia Jones and Laura Wilson
Karen is Head of Learning at Turner Contemporary in Margate and has worked closely with local people over the past ten years to create this new organisation in the run up to the opening of their new building in April 2011. Her role has been to ensure that local people feel involved in the gallery’s development and see it as a valuable resource to the community. Over 690,000 people have seen the organisation’s work or been involved in its programmes in the run up to the opening.
Tom is an artist and educator who has shown outstanding dedication and tireless commitment to identifying, establishing and facilitating numerous community engagement programmes for schools, groups and individuals. He has enabled the galleries he works with to reach out to vulnerable young people and those who had not previously been involved with galleries or artists, giving them the opportunity to participate in national projects with organisations including Tate and engage.
Sylvia is a former primary school teacher and has volunteered for National Museums Liverpool for 25 years. At the Walker Art Gallery, she displays enormous enthusiasm and dedication in ensuring that every visitor she encounters has an enjoyable experience. During her ten years there, Sylvia has devised a series of successful tours where she has met a range of people and enhanced their enjoyment of the Gallery.
Laura is an artist and educator who has shown energy and commitment to her part-time role as Education Organiser at the Chisenhale Gallery. She is remarkable, committed and enthusiastic and has unwavering flair and good humour in what can be a challenging role operating on a shoestring budget. Over the past two years, Laura has increased attendance at the gallery and secured its position as a ‘go to’ local resource.