Wakefield Project Promoting Arts Education

The Hepworth Wakefield (THW) is an art gallery, museum and creative space that provides an innovative exhibition and learning programme. Through Leeds Community Foundation and #iWill funding, they were able to support high school students to become arts education ambassadors…


  • In a nutshell, could you tell us what your Leeds Community Foundation funded project involves?

The LCF #iWill fund supported The Hepworth to train Year 9 students from Kettlethorpe High School as Art Ambassadors to campaign for arts education in their school and help deliver THW’s School Prints project to local primary schools.

Inspired by a ground-breaking scheme from the 1940s School Prints brings contemporary art to school children. THW’s ambition is for every primary school child in Wakefield District to have access to inspiring contemporary art; the 5-year project gives schools limited edition prints from leading British artists with an accompanying engagement programme, using the prints to enable creative thinking across the curriculum.

  • Why is this kind of support so vital, what’s the need and what might be the situation if the support you offer didn’t exist?

The value of the arts in improving confidence, wellbeing and unlocking creative thinking is increasingly recognised, but arts subjects continue to be squeezed out of the curriculum as they aren’t recognised in performance measures and are under resourced as funding pressures increase.

School Prints provides children with access to contemporary art as part of their everyday experiences in school, supported with a rich engagement activity and CPD enabling teachers to make use of the artwork creatively across the curriculum.

  • Could you share a rewarding moment you’ve had so far? Is there a particular story you could share from a beneficiary you’ve helped?

The following film about School Prints highlights the positive experience of the art ambassadors and the primary students they supported.

One Art Ambassador, whose behaviour in lessons could be challenging, has grown in confidence through the peer to peer support, enabling her to find her voice, and positively affect her work in other subjects. She has since brought her family to visit THW, taking pride in and sharing the work she’s done for the project.

  • What made you apply for a Foundation grant, what difference has the funding from the Foundation made

We first applied to the #iwill fund in 2017 because the principles of youth social action fitted well with a need that we identified for young people’s voices to be heard in making the case for arts education.

The #iWill fund grant enabled Art Ambassador training to be delivered and embedded in the School Prints project. The Art Ambassadors scheme has not only inspired individual young people, but schools have independently taken the model on, with the high schools developing the programme for new cohorts and primary schools developing their own scheme in response to build on their learning.