Museum chosen to become an Arts Award centre of good practice

Thetford's Ancient House Museum. Picture: Denise Bradley

Thetford's Ancient House Museum. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: copyright: Archant 2014

A Thetford museum that has given 200 young people the chance to gain accreditation for their art work and progress into further education and employment, has been chosen to become an Arts Award centre of good practice for 2014-15.

Ancient House Museum of Thetford Life is part of the countywide multi-award-winning Norfolk Museums Service (NMS), comprising ten museums and a study centre.

And it has led NMS' involvement in pioneering museums as ideal environments for promoting young people's engagement with the arts.

The centre of good practice accolade is the latest recognition of this hard work to embed Arts Award in the museum's programmes for young people.

The Arts Award team will be working with Ancient House and the other 18 Arts Award venues across the UK chosen as centres of good practice over the coming year.

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Through various activities, the centres will be sharing their practice to inspire others, make connections and advocate for Arts Award.

The museum's learning officer Melissa Hawker had led on the work and, through imaginative use of the museum's collections, has experimented successfully with different models of delivering Arts Award at all five levels (Discover, Explore, Bronze, Silver and Gold).

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Arts Award is a range of unique qualifications that support anyone up to 25 to grow their arts and leadership talents by taking challenges in an art form – from fashion to film making, pottery to poetry.

Through Arts Award young people gain a nationally recognised qualification enabling them to progress into further education and employment.

Ancient House Arts Award projects have ranged from young people curating their own museum displays, to schoolchildren writing museum guide books to young volunteers running family events and Museums at Night activities.

The museum is currently working with local school children on First World War Arts Award projects. The children are researching local wartime stories and then curating their own pop-up exhibition which will tour the county. Ancient House also offers Discover in a Day for visiting schools on almost any historical theme.

Miss Hawker said: 'I am thrilled Ancient House has been chosen for this accolade. It is a reflection of several years of hard work by the Ancient House team.

'Through Arts Award we have given over 200 young people the chance to gain accreditation for their work, given them new skills and improved their confidence.

'It has been wonderful to see young people in our volunteer and after school clubs progressing through the Arts Award levels and finally going to university.

'I am looking forward to sharing my enthusiasm for how Arts Award can change young people's lives over the next year and have the opportunity to showcase Norfolk young people's amazing work.'

Ancient House Museum has worked closely with the regional Bridge organisation on delivery of Arts Award.

The Bridge, which is based at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, works to provide a direct link or 'bridge' between those working with children and young people, schools and communities with arts and cultural organisations and to achieve the goal of ensuring that every child, young person and their families has the opportunity to access and experience the richness of the arts and culture, wherever they live.

Joff Whitten, Bridge programme manager Norfolk and Suffolk, said: 'We are tremendously pleased for the team at Thetford Ancient House Museum to be selected as an Arts Award best practice centre; this is truly deserved as the work they do has always been of the highest standard.

'The museum has been confident, experimental and committed with its approach to Arts Award and as such inspired many other organisations to deliver the qualification. We often use the team at Ancient House to help us develop new and exciting ways to use Arts Award to accredited young people's achievements in regards to the arts, culture and creativity and we can't think of a better best practice centre in our region.'

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