This research explores the possibility for productive, creative and sustainable partnerships between visual arts organisations and the youth sector, using Circuit, a four-year national programme, as a case study. 

  • Image showing all the partners in circuit

    The content and documents produced by the circuit partners 

    ©Nicola Sim

This research explores the geographies of partnership between galleries and youth organisations, using Circuit, a four-year national programme led by Tate, as the context for a multi-sited ethnography.

Learning departments in galleries and museums frequently work in partnership with external organisations and services, often with the goal of engaging so-called ‘harder to reach’ young people in targeted programmes. Partnership working has also become a central paradigm for the youth sector, as reduced local authority resources and other social and political factors are re-shaping youth work practices. Despite this general strategic turn towards partnership in the public sector, it is widely acknowledged that the development of sustainable, creative and equitable cross-sector alliances can be challenging.  

This doctoral study takes advantage of a timely opportunity to investigate collaborative work across the arts and youth sectors. In 2013 Tate launched Circuit, which connects 15–25 year olds to the arts in galleries and museums, working together with the youth and cultural sector. Funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Circuit seeks to provide opportunities for young people to steer their own learning and create cultural activity across art disciplines. Circuit involves Tate Modern and TateBritain,London; Tate Liverpool; Tate St Ives and partners from the Plus Tate network: firstsite, Colchester, MOSTYN, Llandudno, Nottingham Contemporary, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester and Wysing Arts Centre and Kettle’s Yard, Cambridgeshire. This programme presents a unique environment within which to study the motivations for, and approaches to partnership, as well as barriers and complexities facing young people, professionals and organisations. 

AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award

Project Information

Lead department(s): 
Project leader: 
Nicola Sim, (PhD student, University of Nottingham and Tate)
Project team: 
Supervised by Dr Emily Pringle, (Head of Learning Practice and Research, Tate)
Supervised by Professor Pat Thomson, (School of Education, University of Nottingham)