Artsfest is an celebration of arts and creativity organised by RSA Academies. Georgina Chatfield explains what this year's Artsfest achieved.
The ethos of Artsfest is participation: trying something new, being creative and having fun with new friends as we aim to further students' passion for the arts and understanding of different creative possibilities. RSA Academies have a Commitment to Arts, Culture and Creativity.
Take a breath!
It has been a fabulous two days of energy, anticipation and bravery as we took Artsfest on the road with a London leg and a Redditch leg.
We worked with 80 young people over the two days, giving them the opportunity to learn circus skills ranging from stilts, juggling, flag making, beatboxing, acro-balance, street dance and spoken word.
Produced by Lila Lifely from CircArts, in association with the Roundhouse, we took over the RSA in London with young people from Arrow Vale, Sutton Park and RSA Academy, Tipton – a mixture of 40 pupils from Year 5 to Year 9. Then a week later the Artsfest crew landed at Church Hill Middle School in Redditch to work with 40 pupils from Year 4 to Year 8 from Ipsley CE RSA Academy, Church Hill and Abbeywood First School.
What did we do?
We first spent time as a new group getting to know each other quickly with an energetic ice-breaker exercise. We then ran two different workshop options. At the end of the day, the workshops collaborated with one another: we had creation sessions with beat-boxers working with jugglers, acro-balance with spoken word, and flags with stilt walkers in one joyous celebration of what it is possible to achieve in a day of developing new passions for the future.
What did we learn?
One of the most fabulous things about Artsfest, and this model of working, is how the older pupils were supporting and working with the younger ones and leading by example. The young people also demonstrated over the course of the day key elements* of creativity: starting with being inquistive, then collaborative, and being persistant and imaginative with some disciplined focus to see the day through.
I am also reminded of the importance of process alongside performance. At the end of the day together, we shared some of the skills practiced and an enthusiasm for trying something new and different. It can feel like a lot hinges on this moment (and in a sense it does - we have an audience with expectations!) but the spirit was one of sharing and taking part in a safe space to do so. The lasting impact, however, goes beyond this: it's the learning of new skills and techniques, the time spent with skilled and engaging tutors who share their craft with kindness and authority, and the fun had by peers across schools and within schools.
93% of the participants said they would remember the day, 93% learnt something new and 94% worked with new people.
The participants said:
I enjoyed being able to work with others on something I love: poetry. Also being able to perform it and learning acrobalance.
I enjoyed stepping outside of my comfort zone and performing to a crowd. Never having done it before, I was worried, but RSA made it feel like a safe place
I enjoyed meeting new people and finally being able to socialise better
London Artsfest Art Prize judges were Penny Egan CBE FRSA, chair designate of Compton Verney Art Gallery and Hazel Chandler FRSA, co-founder and director of charity WAYout Arts in Sierra Leone – who selected the following:
Art Prize winner: Reid from Arrow Vale
Runner up: Timothy from Arrow Vale
Commended for their work and ideas: Jessica from Sutton Park, Isabelle from RSA Academy in Tipton and Bailey from Arrow Vale.
Redditch Artsfest Art Prize, our judge was Iris Bertz FRSA, artist, ably assisted by Colin Hopkins, Executive Director, RSA Academies – who selected the following:
Art Prize winner: Maddie from Church Hill
Runner up: Esme from Abbeywood.
Commended for fabulous effort and potential: Isabel from Church Hill and Jessica and Theo both from Abbeywood.
With thanks to Lila Lifely, CircArts, in association with the Roundhouse, and the fabulously brilliant tutors: Kaveh Rahman (juggling), Jo Paul (flag making), Nick Cattermole (flag making), Ed Steven (acro-balance), Floria Da Silva (acro-balance), Kate Evans (stilts), Desiree Kongerod (stilts), Conrad Murray, Nate Staples (Battersea Arts Centre Beatbox Academy), Arji Manuelpillai (spoken word), Paris Crossley (street dance)
And further thanks to our Art Prize judges 2019: Penny Egan, Hazel Chandler and Iris Bertz, and special thanks to Cass Art for the generous donation of the Art Prize prize.
Images credit: Hannah Breeze.
*Bill Lucas, Ellen Spencer and Guy Claxton, 2013.