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Learning is at the heart of all activity at Turner Contemporary, which aims to transform the way that adults, children and young people see, think and learn through visual art.

Art Inspiring Change is a child-led project that launched in January 2016, it is Turner Contemporary’s most ambitious learning initiative to date.

“Its about 6 and 7 year olds making art instead of grown-ups telling us what to do” 
Y2 YAL, Palm Bay School

We are working with 80 children from 4 primary schools – Holy Trinity & St Johns Primary School, Northdown Primary School, Palm Bay Primary School and Salmestone Primary School, between January 2016 and July 2017. 

The Young Arts Leaders (YALs) are supported by their chosen artists, a philosopher and gallery staff to inspire the whole town to engage with art, transforming Margate through physical and social change.

Art Inspiring Change is led by Turner Contemporary and funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Art FundSoutheastern is the lead sponsor for Art Inspiring Change and Turner Contemporary’s 2016 season, supporting Margate and East Kent’s regeneration through its generosity and time.

Art Inspiring Change is part of Turner Contemporary’s ongoing commitment to helping people see, think and learn differently by engaging with art in new ways and to the continued regeneration of Margate.

Want to support the project? 

Turner Contemporary would be grateful to any local residents and businesses who wanted to support children participating in Art Inspiring Change. If you are able to assist by donating time, any materials or building skills, Art Inspiring Change Co-ordinator Nikki Hildesley via


The Beginning...

On the 8 January, the Young Art Leaders (YAL’s) from each school faced their first challenge to interview and contract an artist, one for each school.

Since the end of January the specially chosen artists have hosted 23 afternoon sessions with the 20 YAL’s each week at their schools. The groups meet with their artist and their Turner Contemporary navigator on a Friday afternoon in their specially allocated headquarters at school. The children dictate the activity for the session in various ways; talking, writing on postcards and posting them in a box, ideas in sketchbooks, post-its on the wall.

The artists take the children’s ideas and develop them into a creative activity. There has been role play, clay modelling, t-shirt designing, map making, tie-dye, painting and a lot of mess making!

Once a term the children spend an afternoon with our practical philosopher Ayisha De Lanerolle to practice ‘Hands on Philosophy’ a process used throughout the gallery that encourages and empowers learning, high aspiration and achievement.

The Gallery takeover day and a trip to London

“We’re taking over the Turner…we’re taking over the gallery…we’re taking over the world”
Y3 YALs, Holy Trinity & St John’s Primary

To boost the project and spread the news of it locally the children hosted an Art Inspiring Change Take-over day at the gallery on 11 June. It was a showcase of their achievements during 4 months of the programme. The Takeover Day acted as a launch for the Art Inspiring Change  project.  Awareness of the project aims was raised amongst the Margate community and visitors to the gallery.  The Young Art Leaders succeeded in planning and leading an extremely successful participatory, large scale event that occupied the most visible spaces in the gallery.  The YALs exhibited high level planning, thinking and communication skills throughout the process.  This was commented on by the AIC team, teachers, parents and gallery visitors.

“After today, I just feel as if I could do anything – talk to anyone, I think we know how to make big ideas work”
Holy Trinity YAL

“It was BRILLIANT!  People really listened to us!” 
Salmestone YAL aka Dan Mc Chicken, (roving reporter)
“- yeah but we did ask good questions!”
Salmestone YAL, aka Glory McFlurry, (roving reporter)

Families from the school communities saw their children in their role as Young Arts Leaders for the first time– many were pleasantly surprised at what their children had been able to achieve.  

“I think my mummy was really proud to see what we can do together in our team”
Y2 YAL, Palm Bay

“It is such a positive thing for us to get our parents here to see what their children can achieve.  I’m so pleased to see our parents supporting this day”
Head teacher, Holy Trinity & St Johns Primary School

Less than a week after the success of the take-over day a group of Young Art Leaders and staff from all 4 schools were invited to attend the A.S.S.E.M.B.L.Y Tate Modern Schools preview on 16 June, rail travel courtesy of Southeastern  to celebrate the opening of Tate Modern’s new wing on the Southbank.

They were among 3000 children from across the country invited to see the new wing before it opened to the public. They saw and interacted with some inspiring artworks that may help them to decide what to develop for their sites in Margate.

Visiting Thanet District Council

At the end of October a large group of Young Art Leaders, teachers and gallery staff were invited to Thanet Council Chambers to meet local councillors and council staff.

Groups of children from the 4 schools presented their bids for pieces of disused land in Margate locations mostly close to their schools.  

It was an amazing experience for them to address the councillors in such unfamiliar territory - the council chambers. The councillors and council officers gave their time and professional expertise to the children during the 2 hour session.

Next stop... The House of Commons

3 days later on 31 October, 7 Young Art leaders and their head teachers were once more on a train coutesy of South Eastern, to London to assist the Director Victoria Pomery and Head of Learning and Visitor Experience Karen Eslea in launching the gallery’s Social Value research at a prestigious event in the Thames Pavillion at The Houses of Parliament. 

The children met the Children’s Commisioner,  Anne Longfield OBE who interviewed them about the Art Inspiring Change project in front of an audience of MP's, Government Ministers, Journalists and senior stakeholders.

After the excitement of the last month the Young Art Leaders are now concentrating on being extremely creative again in their weekly sessions. There is mounting excitement about the Creative Enablers and Young Art Leaders Christmas event on the 3 December and the next stage of the project securing a piece of land and progressing the childrens interpretation for it.


An exhibition

On the 28 September an Art Inspiring Change Exhibition was opened at Turner Contemporary in the ground floor corridor. A timeline shows the amazing amount of work, activity and achievements by the Young Art Leaders to date.

There is also a film by a local film maker Hazeleigh Prebble who documented the take-over day.

The Art Inspiring Change Exhibition is open until the end of November.

Creative Enablers

As part of the project, 40 parents and/or carers from the 4 linked schools and from other local primary schools in Margate are taking part in a City & Guilds accredited Creative Enabler course which is giving them the practical, listening, thinking, and communication skills to help children take the lead.

At the beginning of October we launched our City & Guilds Creative Enabler course for 40 parents and carers of children from the four Art Inspiring Change schools with a 2 hour Salsa drumming session.

This 16 week course has been researched and designed to help adults better understand and support children’s visions and ideas.

The course takes place once a week at two schools in Margate and the parents and carers have now met with 20 of the Young Art Leaders who have given them a brief and some instructions for a Christmas Event on 3 December at Turner Contemporary where they will support and enable the Young Art Leaders to offer child inspired Christmas workshops to visitors between 1 and 4pm.

Aside from the City & Guilds qualification the participants will take part in other weekly courses to help them support children. Philosophy, Body Language, Positive parenting, History of Margate, Well-being and First Aid. The course is due to complete in February 2017.

Art Inspiring Change Supporters: