Partnerships should bring communities together and be based on the principle of equity. Museums should work with a diverse range of partners and think beyond traditional partners and audiences.
A case study on the Hope Streets partnership project led by Curious Minds
Hope Streets is a five-year (2018-23) project led by the Curious Minds cultural education charity, responding the challenge of engaging young people with museums outside of school.
At a time when youth services have been pared back nationally, heritage venues and projects have much to offer in filling that space. Hope Streets aims for organisational change, placing young people at the heart of museums as participants, workers, advisors and trustees.
Studies have shown young people can see museums as an extension of school. The project strives to reach those young people who do not immediately think that cultural heritage is for them.
In partnership with youth-led specialists, such as Blaze Arts, and by forging strong connections with the youth sector, Hope Streets seeks to empower young people to discover, record and interpret the heritage that matters to them: stories of hope from the streets where they live.
Hope Streets showed that young people are valuable to the heritage sector, for example they modelled flexibility and resilience in response to challenge posed by the pandemic.
A multi-site Festival of Hope was one of our most ambitious outputs, but it had to be completely rethought due to Covid-19. Young people, supported by the museums, found ways to pivot rather than pause delivery, navigating online spheres as digital natives. They reported improved wellbeing and a growing sense of purpose and connection to their local community and heritage.
Museums are currently hosting work placements and constructing strategic plans that centralise young people.
Our evaluation highlights fundamental organisational change, with staff reporting that their organisations “already feel a lot more youth oriented…in the office or working around the galleries and the kind of work that they’re doing”. Organisations are “thinking about a younger audience and how that work is going to be received”.
The five lead museums on Hope Streets are the Atkinson, Southport; Bolton Museum; Lancashire Museums; Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, Carlisle; and West Cheshire Museums.
The project is guided by a consortium bringing together Youth Focus North West with Museum Development North West. Hope Streets is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
More information about the project can be found on the Festival of Hope website.