Connecting Young People and Galleries to Spark Change

  • Mark Miller
  • Jessye Seth Bloomfield
  • Adrian Shaw
  • Chris Lewis-Jones
  • Tanya Boyarkina
  • April Brown
  • Shaiyann Fairweather
  • Ernest Wereko
  • Leila Duffy-Tetzlaff
Circuit was a national programme for 15–25 year olds, led by Tate and funded by Paul Hamlyn Foundation. From 2013-17, ten galleries worked in partnership with youth organisations, aiming to create opportunities for a more diverse range of young people to engage with art in galleries. Circuit highlighted the importance of the arts and youth sectors working as allies to champion positive change for young people.
Circuit involved Tate Modern and Tate Britain; Tate Liverpool, Tate St Ivesand partners from the Plus Tate network: Firstsite, Colchester; MOSTYN, Llandudno; Nottingham Contemporary; 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 have impact for and with 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 the end of Circuit, we aim to support active discussion between cultural and youth sector colleagues and organisations, to bring together expertise from around the country, and to continue to promote positive change for young people.
We call for the youth and cultural sectors to:
  • Share resources, aims and values
  • Advocate and support social, cultural and economic justice
  • Contribute to existing and future work with, for and by young people


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