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Pat Cochrane describes how Cape UK has produced educational resources for the Yorkshire Festival, part of the Tour de France’s Grand Départ.

Image of True Grit Digital Poetry
Performers from True Grit Digital Poetry

Yorkshire Festival 2014

Nearly 50 major cultural events showcasing world-class art and culture in Yorkshire, taking place over three months in the run-up to the most watched annual sporting event in the world – we had to be involved. That was our view when the idea for a 100-day cultural festival in the lead up to the Tour de France’s Grand Départ was first aired last year. From an initial meeting with the festival organisers to discuss how young people could be involved, Cape UK’s link with what became Yorkshire Festival 2014 has grown strong. We were commissioned to create educational resources which are now available to download for free, giving inspiration to teachers and others working with young people.

It has proved to be a perfect fit for our role as Arts Council England’s bridge organisation for Yorkshire and the Humber, and our wider work helping prepare young people to face the future with creativity and self-belief. The ‘depARTures’ festival resources project has fulfilled our aim of bringing together the arts, cultural and heritage sector with education. We assembled a team of teachers and other experts from both sectors, to work with the teams creating five of the festival’s commissioned events. They designed and then quality assured an easily accessible resource for each commission, with links directly to the national curriculum. The aim was to open up the themes of the commissions to a wider audience, meaning that schools do not necessarily have to transport groups of pupils across the region to attend an event to, as the festival’s Twitter hashtag says, #bepartofit. In addition, we and the festival team wanted to encapsulate the three themes of the festival. So we have created the resources to reflect the themes of Yorkshire ‘en fete’, ‘World Class Yorkshire’ and ‘True Grit’.

A large part of our work … has been to show where there are opportunities to use arts, culture and heritage across the new national curriculum

Yorkshire Festival 2014 is the first ever arts festival to precede the Tour de France’s Grand Départ in its 111 year history. It is proving to be a fantastic way to inspire young people, reflecting the superb world-class art and culture available across our region. The organisations which have worked with us on the resources represent a real mixture of artforms and locations across the region:

  • Annapurna’s Barefoot on Bicycle – an Indian dance performance inspired by the bicycle.
  • Cold Bath Road Mystery by Chrysalis Arts – a storytelling trail enlivened by art installations.
  • Poised by Ferens Art Gallery, Hull – workshops exploring the themes of a film of divers getting 'in the zone' ready for their sporting activity.
  • Sheffield Steel Peloton – a team of people working together to explore the process of making a bicycle, complete with a head post badge 'made from scratch'.
  • True Grit Digital Poetry – an innovative use of performance poetry and film combined with public workshops.

Writer and performer Kate Fox has been one of those working with us on the resources for True Grit Digital Poetry, and she told us the experience had been very positive: “It’s been great to put the spoken word into the context of creative teaching and learning. This resource pack is a wonderful legacy for our project and at a time when creative learning is being so squeezed in schools, something that matches this artform in the curriculum is very valuable.”

A large part of our work in recent months has been to show where there are opportunities to use arts, culture and heritage across the new national curriculum to engage and inspire young people. This has been a two-pronged approach to offer practical advice to arts and cultural organisations on their ‘offer’ for schools – and to work with schools to see how arts and culture can boost attainment and engagement among students at all levels.

We have also recently created a national database of some of the best examples of educational resources, created by arts and cultural organisations, for Arts Council England. Being at the centre of the Yorkshire Festival depARTures project, and using our expertise to add to our portfolio of resources has helped us, and others, to turn all that theory into practice. We have also taken inspiration from all the exciting events happening in our region this year to create our Yorkshire-themed Arts Award log book. The response has been fantastic and more than 3,000 books have been ordered by schools and organisations working with young people.

Pat Cochrane is Chief Executive Officer of Cape UK.

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Image of Pat Cochrane