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The Hepworth Wakefield part of a transatlantic virtual arts collaboration

For the last two years, The Hepworth Wakefield has been part of a major creative partnership programme - Burberry Inspire - that aims to nurture young people in Yorkshire's creativity and showcase the positive impact engagement in the arts can have on young people’s lives.

The first part of this year’s in-depth arts programme saw The Hepworth Wakefield welcome over 1000 key stage 3 students for gallery visits and creative workshops. In-school projects and after-school clubs were also delivered for students to experiment with new processes and techniques in art and photography.

As both the gallery and participating schools were interrupted by the global COVID-19 pandemic, Burberry Inspire responded by going transatlantic; and a multidisciplinary virtual artistic collaboration was born.

Studio in a School, based in New York and The Hepworth Wakefield were paired together and have been sharing each other’s specially devised art-making prompts and video lessons with students in New York and in Yorkshire so they could continue to engage in art and creativity while at home.

The Burberry Inspire partnership also brought together the first-ever collaboration between American Ballet Theatre and Northern Ballet as school students worked with the dance artists, resulting in four dance films performed by professional dancers, filmed in part in NYC and at the Hepworth Wakefield.

Reel Works, an organisation dedicated to inspiring and empowering underrepresented students through filmmaking, connected students with Teaching Artists online to create original documentaries, narratives and animated films to share their stories with their schools and communities. Using a variety of prompts, the organisation has allowed students to safely explore, document, and make meaning of the world around them. The team has also been collaborating with Leeds Young Film on ideas and ways to engage students.

Leeds Playhouse continues to deliver their creative programme to partner schools in Leeds and is working collaboratively with the CUNY Creative Arts Team, which harnesses theatre to impact social change, on a number of projects for the next academic year.

The Burberry Foundation first launched Burberry Inspire in 2018 in Yorkshire with The Hepworth Wakefield, Leeds Playhouse, Leeds Young Film and Northern Ballet. Through the project, more than 5,500 young people have benefitted from experiences of the creative arts to date in the UK and USA, ranging from dance and theatre to filmmaking and sculpture. In New York, the Creative Arts Team at the City University of New York is supporting the arts partners in coordinating programs across six schools while facilitating professional development workshops for all partners to share best practices and knowledge on arts education.

Burberry Inspire measures how deep experience of the arts can have a positive effect on young people’s lives by connecting eminent arts organisations with schools. The Office of Research, Evaluation, and Program Support (REPS) of the City University of New York will measure the impact of Burberry Inspire in New York, while the Policy Institute at King’s College London will study the impact of the immersive arts and creative education programme on the students’ development in Yorkshire.

The partners from across Yorkshire and New York will showcase students’ work in a virtual cultural runway later this year.

Nicola Freeman, Director of Engagement and Learning, The Hepworth Wakefield, said: “The Hepworth Wakefield is thrilled to continue nurturing young people’s creativity through Burberry Inspire. By successfully adapting our artist-in- residence project to digital platforms, we have been able to support students in their creative journeys while at home. Our collaboration with Studio in a School NYC has been a fantastic opportunity to connect with visual arts colleagues internationally, share best practice and explore new ways of delivering arts activity for young people. Our work together has deepened students’ engagement through shared digital resources and films with artists from both Yorkshire and New York. It has been incredibly inspiring for the students involved to feel part of a global community and use creativity to explore their shared experiences during this pandemic.”