Gem Smith from Take a Part shares something positive and creative to focus on…


At the start of 2020 I was really excited: Take A Part had collaborated with our core partner Efford High View School to support them in applying for their own Arts Council England (ACE) funds. The proposed project was a reflection/learning point in relation to all the great work we’d been able to do together over the past 11 years. An 11 years of exploring, testing, taking risks, sometimes failing but ALWAYS learning. The project, entitled the very catchy ‘CECE’ (Centre Of Excellence in Creative Education) would see High View sharing the models and practices that have enabled them to risk-take and collaborate with artists, their community, arts organisations and venues to:

  • deliver the curriculum in creative ways
  • achieve excellence in teaching and learning
  • undertake artist in residence programmes
  • run family-led art groups
  • connect with and deliver on community projects, and
  • support developing community audiences for art in the city with partner schools.

A MASSIVE opportunity, and a great and new exciting project for me to get stuck into, plus the first time, we think, a school had applied for an ACE grant.

People tend to be really aware of the great work we do at TAP with communities: engaging people at grass roots level, co-creating projects and upskilling community members are all part of the way we work. The Creative Education strand of our work has always sat alongside this work, complementing and connecting into projects, but it has never really had its own moment to shine and be a project in its own right.

I was EXCITED, and then Covid…

We spoke with ACE and were grateful to be able to shift our timelines. Planning moved to autumn term 2020 with delivery kicking off in January 2021, but even that felt risky and now with another lockdown in full swing continuing to navigate project deliver has been challenging.  But it’s also been surprising and powerful.

CECE’s first in person sessions were booked in for the start of March and after conversations with staff, they still will be delivered then, with the Educare students engaging with our artists if not the full cohort. And this sort of decision making is why High View excel at Creative Education and projects and why ACE supported this project.

Rather than trying to further shift the timeline or make an offer from the artists via home schooling we’re finding (Covid safe) ways to push forward with project plans. The learning from the artist project will still be shared with our project partners but via film and Zoom Q&A sessions rather than in person observation. Rather than Covid stopping delivery, we are adapting around it, continuing to offer the children of that school opportunities to be creative and continuing to find different ways to enable sharing and learning between schools to take place.

The schools have been so incredibly responsive and proactive in a time where it would be easier to not do additional things, not to make that extra effort, to find that additional energy and time.  They still want to push forward with an exciting new project and take time to value the arts, collaborate with artists and each other to share learning and be creative during such an odd time and it’s so nice to have something positive and creative to focus on during these very strange times!


Photo credit: Gem Smith for Take a Part