“The wider the range of opportunites we offer children, the more intense will be their motivations and the richer their experiences.” Loris Malaguzzi, founder of the Reggio Emilia educational philosophy
My Place, Our Place is a creative collaboration between the Architecture Centre, creative mentors 5x5x5=creativity, two Bristol City Council Children’s Centres and evaluation experts from the University of Bristol.
The project aims to develop and test methodologies to creatively engage early years audiences with the art form that is all around us: architecture and place, and to champion the innate culture and creativity of young children and their families.
By focusing on early years and their families from diverse communities who have less access to arts and culture, this project aims to challenge inequality in the city’s cultural provision.
The project focuses on:
- Understanding the barriers to arts participation for children and families from low income families and BAME communities
- Exploring how child-centred, participatory methods can best engage under 5’s and families with place
- Exploring methods to develop staff knowledge and skills to facilitate deeper relationships with children and family audiences
- Testing the effectiveness of a ‘city explorer’ toolkit of resources
The project seeks to explore:
- How the context of ‘place’ can support children’s understanding of the/ir world and through expressive arts and design; share their thoughts, ideas and feelings (and help deliver the EYFS Statutory Framework)
- How early years settings can creatively use their own/local environment to explore the theme of ‘place’
- How meaningful relationships can be developed between early years / family audiences and artists/ arts organisations
- The co-development of methodologies/resources that can be shared widely with early years/cultural settings
- The piloting of ArtsMark / Creative Families Award in early years settings
‘Place’ is acknowledged in the UK’s culture in the 2016 Cultural White Paper and place-based participation has the potential to connect city children with their heritage, environment and the creative design process. This project will be inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach. At the heart of the Reggio pedagogy are the concepts of: the child as an innate and creative knowledge-builder and explorer, the environment as the third teacher and the atelier (space for creativity) and the atelierista (artist educator).
My Place, Our Place consists of three project strands:
- Artists in Residence in Early Years Settings: During 2019 two artists will be selected to work collaboratively with 3-4 years olds in two Bristol City Council Children’s Centres: St Phillips Marsh (Cashmore House) and Illminster Avenue
- Architecture Centre practice and methodology: increase in the Centre’s community outreach with families, using the Centre as an ‘Atelier’ creative space
- Knowledge sharing and legacy resource: co-development of a ‘City Explorer’ resource for future use by Children’s Centres and families to explore the city and local environment, Artists training with 5x5x5=creativity; to grow the pool of socially engaged artists with expertise in working with early years audiences and knowledge sharing with other cultural / early years organisations in Bristol and beyond.