April 2, 2015

Research with the University of Kent which tracked the impact of an artist residency on primary school pupils has shown fascinating results.

A term-long artist commission by performance artist Bob Karper (‘Steampunk Bob’) explored the theme of ‘Role Models’ by connecting pupils with local care home residents through poetry, song, photography and performance. As part of this commission we invited researchers to evaluate four key aspects which included the pupils’ attitudes towards the elderly; their intentions to help and be kind to others; finding out their inspirations and role models, and tracking their understanding of the arts. These were tested before and after the artist commission and showed interesting developments in all areas.

As a result of this commission (supported with investment by Artswork, the South East Bridge), all 210 pupils at Lunsford Primary School passed their Discover Arts Award. This was an incredible achievement, made possible by the dedication of the staff and pupils and support of Artswork, but also by the breadth and depth of arts activities that the pupils could take part in due to the artist residency. Consequently, the children’s knowledge of different art forms improved dramatically. Whereas before the residency children cited painting, drawing, colouring and making as key art activities, afterwards there was an enormous increase in reference to much broader activity including dancing, singing, writing, photography, poetry and drama.

The research also showed that after the residency and intergenerational experiences, the children were more willing to be kind to older people and more likely to see their parents as role models.

Matt Dechaine, Headteacher explained:

We have been working with People United to offer our pupils more opportunities to connect with artists and different types of art. They have helped to bring extra creativity to the school and have raised the profile of the arts considerably. People United are well placed in supporting schools in widening the perspectives of children in relation to the wider world. Our children are now much more aware of those communities around them and this has most definitely filtered through to their parents. I have been approached by a number of parents thanking all involved in the project for giving a new dimension to the lives of their children’.

To find out more about watch the film https://vimeo.com/117104619

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