In the Year of Young People 2018, The National Lottery has awarded £776,000 to National Museums Scotland to lead an ambitious project to empower Scotland’s young people to engage with their heritage through the national collections.
Scotland 365 will encourage young people to take inspiration from the national collections, exploring the past and testing innovative ideas to encourage their peers to engage with Scotland’s heritage. They will explore what is special about living in Scotland today, in a time of political, social and cultural change, when people are thinking about their lives and their place in the world. Whether through stories, craft, dance or social history, exploring heritage provides a unique route to cultural understanding. Initial consultation showed that young people wanted to take part in history, not just observe it. The project will support them to engage proactively and to promote the involvement of young people in the interpretations of the national collections.
Using visual art, animation, music and performance, the project got underway this summer with the first programme – CashBack to the Future run by Impact Arts – being delivered simultaneously across Edinburgh, Glasgow, Renfrewshire and Ayrshire engaging over 200 young people. The four-week long residency offered young people the opportunity to work with professional artists, musicians, filmmakers and actors on youth-led creative projects, culminating in a one-off showcase event. The theme for this year is My Museum and all the young people involved have taken inspiration from National Museums’ diverse collections. This ongoing partnership will continue to inform the development of Scotland 365, reaching a wider range of young people, providing them with enjoyable experiences and developing their skills.
Through the project and with the input of young people National Museums Scotland will develop new thinking around its approaches to contemporary collecting and heritage presentation. It will explore and trial with young people a range of alternative approaches to interpreting the national collections both at the National Museum of Scotland and at the National Museums Collection Centre.
Building on its experience to date of engaging with young people, National Museums and its project partners will work with young people across Scotland, helping them explore how their stories connect with their heritage and encouraging them to produce creative responses to these encounters as ways into the collections, be it through artworks, stories, films or photography. Through workshops and action-based research the team will also explore participants’ views around digital technology and social media devising means to link to a heritage context.
Amongst the outcomes the project aims to deliver are vibrant and sustainable partnerships between National Museums Scotland and youth organisations across Scotland, a youth forum to contribute to regular programming across the project partners and input from young people into future interpretation and presentation in galleries and special exhibitions. National Museums will share learnings from its research into youth engagement with organisations in both the heritage and youth sectors.
As well as creating a programme of exciting activity with young people, National Museums will use the project to inform its long-term strategy for youth engagement as museum staff gain new understanding and experience of working with young people.
Ruth Gill, Director of Public Programmes, National Museums Scotland said,
“We are thrilled that in 2018, the Year of Young People in Scotland, the National Lottery has chosen to support our work with such generous funding. Our Scotland 365 project will enable us to radically redevelop the way in which we engage with young people. We are delighted to be working with and benefiting from the expertise of our partners, Young Scot, Project Scotland and Impact Arts. The project opens up infinite possibilities for young people and our national collections and we look forward to working together as we develop creative responses to our heritage.”
The money has been awarded through the Heritage Lottery Fund’s new Kick the Dust programme, HLF’s pioneering new grant programme distributing £10m from the National Lottery to youth organisations across the UK. At its core is a group of 16-25 year old Heritage Ambassadors recruited from across the UK, who are on a mission to ‘stir up heritage’, and have helped advise on how the money should be allocated.
Eleanor Styles, a 25 year-old Heritage Ambassador living in Edinburgh, said:
“It has been a brilliant experience learning how grants are awarded, and helping HLF to allocate £10m to projects involving more young people in heritage. I’m thrilled that Scotland 365 has won funding, as we found its plans to empower young people to actively engage with Scotland's heritage, not just observe especially appealing. Making Scotland's national collections more accessible for more young people is very important to me, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the project progresses in the future.”
Further information from:
Susan Gray, National Museums Scotland Press Office, tel. 0131 247 4088; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
And for HLF: Shiona Mackay, tel . 01786 870638; email: email@example.com