Project

Circuit January 2013 – April 2017

Connecting young people and galleries to spark change

Circuit launch festival: Hyperlink at Tate Modern, 2013

Circuit launch festival: Hyperlink at Tate Modern, photograph © Gabrielle Foncesca, 2013

Circuit was a four-year national programme led by Tate and funded by Paul Hamlyn Foundation. Circuit involved Firstsite, Colchester; MOSTYN, Llandudno; Nottingham Contemporary; Tate Britain and Tate Modern, London; Tate Liverpool; Tate St Ives; The Whitworth, Manchester; and Wysing Arts Centre and Kettle’s Yard, Cambridgeshire.

Circuit set out to create better access to the arts for 15-25 year olds. It was built on Tate’s long-term work with young people, and aimed to reach those who might not usually connect with galleries. It brought together a national network of arts organisations to test new ways of working.

Over four years, the programme reached more than 175,000 people through events and projects. It demonstrated that art can have a significant impact in building young people’s confidence, practical skills and their social and personal development.

Circuit gave young people the chance to influence arts organisations in a tangible way. It explored approaches to ‘peer-led’ working, giving young people the space and skills to bring their own cultures and voices into galleries, to share with the public. Through the programme, each gallery developed their own core group of young people who produced events, including a high profile festival at each site. The programme identified changes that need to happen in galleries to enable programmes to happen with, by and for young people.

The galleries looked closely at their local communities, and established partnerships with youth organisations. Circuit highlighted the importance of collaboration and equitable partnerships with the youth sector, to create opportunities for a more diverse range of young people to engage with art in galleries.

Following Circuit, Tate aims to continue to support active discussion between cultural and youth sector colleagues and organisations.

Circuit Findings

Circuit examined the ways that galleries can welcome and support young people. It also exposed some of the complexities and challenges that might prevent this.

These are the three key areas of recommendations, based on what was learnt through Circuit, to work towards change to benefit young people:

Galleries and the Youth Sector Building Partnerships

  • Adapt your resources and form partnerships that respond to the current climate of limited budgets and cuts
  • Identify common motivations, priorities and values
  • Harness each other’s expertise, and share ways of working that are of benefit to young people

Motivation for Diversity and Change

  • Define your motivations for diversity – in your audience and workforce
  • Understand the changes that need to happen, the timeframe, and where the responsibility lies
  • Reflect and learn from short-term projects that you connect to long-term strategies for change

Young People and Cultural Production

  • Establish ways for young people to work within organisations as producers of cross-art-form cultural activity that resonates with their wider social and cultural experiences
  • Provide progression routes that allow for the development of transferable personal and professional skills, for education and employment, and an increased understanding of the cultural sector

Our report, Test, Risk, Change, explores the challenges and barriers that exist in relation to these three areas, and suggests ideas and solutions to address them.

We invite you to reflect on our findings, and use this report to provoke conversation, collaboration and action.

Download the Circuit report: Test, Risk, Change

Circuit Film: MAKE YOUR PLACE

Watch the stories of the lives of four young people who were involved in Circuit, in this filmic portrait of changing futures.

About MAKE YOUR PLACE

MAKE YOUR PLACE showcases Circuit’s legacy and its lasting influence by allowing young people involved in the project to tell their own story.

Four dynamic young creatives feature in the film; Fatimah, Charlotte, Will and Gaby. Fatimah is a part time employee at The Whitworth in Manchester; Charlotte is a young exhibiting artist at Firstsite, Colchester; Gaby is an artist curator of youth events at Tate Britain & Tate Modern; and Will has developed a mentoring relationship with a Senior Curator at MOSTYN, Llandudno.

The film illustrates how art galleries have the ability to support young people, and how this impacted their wider lives.

Circuit Conference: Test, Risk, Change

Delegates at the Circuit Conference, 2017

Delegates at the Circuit Conference, photograph © Jack Makin, 2017

On 10th March 2017, delegates from arts and youth organisations across the country gathered at Nottingham Contemporary for a day of lively debate.

Framed around four years of learning from Circuit and the theme of democratic practice, the conference explored how the two sectors can work together effectively in turbulent social and political times, to challenge inequalities and champion young people’s cultural participation. Watch and listen to recordings from the Circuit conference.

Research and evaluation

Research and evaluation were embedded throughout Circuit.

Gallery staff, young people, artists and partners were encouraged to reflect on their experiences, to analyse what they found, and crucially, to change their programme in response.

Gallery staff worked with evaluators to collect and analyse qualitative and quantitative data; young people devised creative evaluation techniques to review their festivals and events; and specialists carried out research to examine important themes that were emerging from Circuit.

Further information about the Circuit programme can be found on the project website.

For further enquiries, contact our Young People’s Programmes team directly at circuit@tate.org.uk.

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Circuit project website

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