The Corinium Museum, Cirencester

Emma Stuart , 12.12.2014
Funding projects with teenagers
Developing a museum offer for a hard-to-reach audience such as teenagers often requires additional resources, sometimes above and beyond those of the general museum budget.

At the Corinium Museum in Cirencester, we have built work with teenagers into dedicated projects that meet their needs as well as the needs of the museum.

The Heritage Lottery Fund’s Young Roots funding is one source that can help museums begin their work with teenagers. There are specific requirements attached to such funding, such as young people leading the project and it taking place outside of formal education time, which are challenges in themselves.

The Corinium Museum has, over the past four years, worked on three Young Roots funded projects: the Prehistoric Metal Smith; Prehistoric Art; and Modelling the Monastery.

The first two saw us partner with Cirencester College and the students spent time out of their studies (sometimes at weekends) to undertake experimental archaeology with a prehistory theme.

The two college groups produced exhibitions, all self-led, using the artwork and tools they had created during a series of workshops. They also fulfilled the criteria for gaining a bronze level Arts Award, adding value to the projects and to their experience.

For Modelling the Monastery we partnered with two local secondary schools, and activities took place in half-term or during an activities week. Practical activities were devised for the age group but there were too many participants to manage the Arts Award for them all.

Working with teenage audiences can be challenging but fun; frustrating yet rewarding; time consuming but beneficial – a paradox in many ways.

In our experience, teenage audiences come and go quite quickly, they are fairly difficult to hook and hold onto largely as they are at a transitory stage in their lives.

Touch them through your museum or gallery collection in the right way though, and it will stay with them for life and may even set them off on a journey never envisioned before.

Future work we have planned for teenage audiences will look towards working with teens sustainably. This is our challenge for the future and we are looking forward to it.

Emma Stuart is the learning development officer at the Corinium Museum