Quality in practice
When Paul Hamlyn Foundation developed the original ArtWorks: developing practice in participatory settings special initiative, one of the things it wanted to achieve was 'a better understanding of what constitutes quality in the work, thus ensuring better experiences for participants'.
Connected to the ArtWorks Scotland pathfinder, Creative Scotland commissioned Developing a Foundation for Quality Guidance by Rachel Blanche, looking at research and learning across ArtWorks, the UK, internationally and beyond the arts sector, to act as a stepping stone to the development of quality tools for the sector.
In Scotland, Is this the best it can be? encourages artists, partners and participants to discuss what is important to their project through a series of prompt questions. Partnerships can build these into their projects creating a bespoke compass for their work, taking them on a reflective journey and ultimately asking the question ‘is this the best it can be?’
Pilots showed that it can help them to:
- explore and agree the nature of a collaboration
- support curiosity, questioning and being positively critical
- encourage reflection and give breadth and depth to discussions
- recognise where good practice exists and celebrate it
- promote a true sense of partnership between artists, partners and participants
- gather qualitative information about the project
Rachel Blanche has now had a paper published in the online journal of the international Arts Management Network, profiling the quality insights and how they've been applied in Scotland and adopted in Portugal. Read the article here.
In Wales, the ArtWorks Cymru Quality Principles set out nine best practice principles across three key areas: Intention, Activity and People. The online toolkit provides a range of different tools that support reflection on practice using the principles.
ArtWorks Cymru have now created a Quality Principles checklist for teachers with A2 Connect (Arts in Education Network) and is working with Voluntary Arts Wales to explore making a Quality Principles checklist for voluntary groups.
They have also worked with Arts Council Wales to re-develop their Quality Assessment Form to make it more suitable for participatory arts, using the ArtWorks Cymru Quality Principles as the key tool.
ArtWorks Cymru Quality Principles training sessons have been rolled out with various ArtWorks Cymru partners. The Principles are actively in use and an article by Beth Pickard from University of South Wales on the Sound Sense website shows what a positive difference they can make in supporting students' professional development.
You can search our Knowledge Bank for all the ArtWorks resources about quality.
Also recommended reading:
Seidel et al, (2009) The Qualities of Quality: Understanding Excellence in Arts Education
What does “quality” look like in arts education? Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Project Zero explored the challenges of achieving and sustaining quality arts learning.