Going for Gold with Arts Award

 12 October 2016

Trinity College London, famous for their music and performing arts qualifications, also run a scheme called Trinity Arts Awards. This summer student Sienna James completed her Gold Award. She spoke about what this means for her, and how it is already leading to other creative opportunities.

"I created a series of fictional letters that were written from the perspective of my Living History character."

What is a Gold Arts Award?

Arts Award is a unique award programme which supports young people to develop as artists and arts leaders and explore the arts and cultural world.

The Gold Award requires young people to try their hand in becoming arts leaders and project managers. Students work alongside arts practitioners and gain invaluable experience in a variety of arts organisations.

Staff at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, mentored me throughout my award and I was the first candidate of theirs to achieve Gold, which is the highest level of Arts Award.

It holds 16 UCAS tariff points and is a level 3 on the qualifications credit framework.

Creating the work

At the time I started my award (September 2015), I was already volunteering in various roles for the National Trust. One of these roles was as a historical interpreter and I decided to use re-enactments as a base for the first part of my award.

There is no doubt that this project really helped me develop skills like organisation, communication and leadership.

I combined creative writing, an art form I have always adored, with authentic illustration from the 1930s and living history interpretation.

For my final piece, I created a series of fictional letters that were written from the perspective of my living history character. These letters were accompanied by pen and ink sketches, inspired by 1930s research.

I relished this part of the award as it enabled me to combine my creative writing with something entirely new: the 1930s illustration.

Public events

In unit two of Gold, the student has to organise and lead a public event. This can be anything from hosting a painting workshop, to a musical recital, to an arts party in your local park. I chose to create a historical research exhibit at Ickworth House, the National Trust property where I was already involved.

Aided by an experienced researcher, I listened to the oral archives at Ickworth and explored documents at my local records office.

Once the research was complete I decided on how the display would look. How would it hang in the space? How would I engage the public? How would I source the materials I need?

There is no doubt that this project really helped me develop skills like organisation, communication and leadership.

Once the exhibit was in place, staff were so pleased with the public response that they extended the days from one week to the whole season. I was delighted by the outcome!

Life after Arts Award

So many unexpected things have come out of my award.

I have been asked to write articles for various websites about my experience, I am looking to apply for the Creative and Cultural Skills Apprenticeship at the Fitzwilliam next year, and am now part of the Youth Network as an Arts Award Activist!

Get involved

You can complete all levels of Arts Award up to the age of 25.

As a starter for someone who would love a creative career, there is no doubt I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in the arts. Go on, give it a go!

You can read more about Sienna James and her Gold Arts Award experience on the Fitzwilliam Museum blog.