Contemporary art interventions with disadvantaged young people have attained a degree of policy orthodoxy in the UK, reflected in key UK and Scottish policies (Curriculum for Excellence, Creative Learning Strategy 2013, the draft Cultural Strategy Consultation document 2018). Such interventions, are justified by instrumental outcomes, including broadening access to the arts, building self-confidence, well-being, attainment, civic engagement and social inclusion, and intersect with duties to consult young people under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989). However, few studies have followed participants over time to establish broader and longer-term effects, how these interventions work and the degree of participation involved. Nor have studies examined participants’ perceptions of the potentially conflicting therapeutic and artistic aims of such projects or of the relevance of contemporary art to their everyday lives. The complexities, affects and effects of collaboration on such projects on others (artists, institutions and third sector/statutory agencies), with different purposes and constraints, are also under-explored, as is the potential relevance of such programmes to the development of contemporary art.
Employing mixed methods (observation, interview and documentary analysis), this project will combine expertise in the sociology of childhood and youth, education and the arts with the practice-based outreach context of the National Galleries of Scotland (NGS) to explore the impacts of its outreach programmes on the lives of young people, the practices of galleries and the practices of contemporary art. The project will contribute to NGS Outreach’s response (structural and methodological) to the Scottish Cultural Strategy (of harnessing creative cultural approaches to address social needs) while reflecting NGS’ commitment to participatory values. Related academic publications, conference presentations and knowledge-exchange events will situate NGS as an international centre of reflective practice in the area.