Arts Connect Thrive Bursary

I have been selected as one of the recipients of the Arts Connect WM 2020 ‘Thrive Bursary’ to research and develop a digital tool as part of my own work in heritage and learning.

In light of the growing movements around social justice, young people are raising questions around their Rights as citizens.  There is a real need to understand the link between how individuals experience Rights, where those Rights are enshrined in law, and the movements that brought those changes about.  How can we make this subject less abstract? How can we link it to social justice struggles today? Can we learn anything from previous struggles?

I have been working with historians and community groups to explore the history of political representation and rights in Birmingham through managing a Community Heritage project, Represent, for the People’s Heritage Co-operative.  Through working with two Artists, we have considered the relevance of these stories today and created a number of textile works which interpret these stories for others.  As the project comes to an end, I have been considering how this research can be brought to new audiences, to engage young people creatively in this important topic.

Following attendance at a number of Arts Connect WM’s Digital Pick and Mix events, I have been considering how John Sear’s approach to utilising digital narrative games could be used to bring themes around democracy and rights to life.  Allowing players to inhabit a role within a game could transform an abstract topic into something real and relevant.

Here’s what I will be exploring over the coming months:

How can digital tools develop and support an understanding of the link between real people’s stories, their Rights and how those Rights came about?

This will involve:

  • Development of an Interactive Digital Game to help young people in schools and other settings understand the history of British democracy and movements for Equal Rights.
  • Personal development through learning from John Sear how to employ digital tools to curate stories and engage new audiences.
  • Building on research from The People’s History Co-operative’s ‘Represent’ community heritage project.
  • Linking with South Birmingham Woodcraft Folk’s ‘Venturers’ group (aged 9+) to develop and test the tool – from initial research, to testing and developing the game and gaining feedback for evaluation.
  • Presenting the findings to Birmingham Cultural Education Partnership to further a conversation as to how we can utilise Interactive Games within the area’s museums and develop digital practice in community heritage projects which work with young people.

If you work in education or with young people and have an interest in this topic, do get in touch – I’d love to hear your thoughts and learn more about what you are already doing to navigate this topic!

Title image: Piece from ‘Represent’ project banner, created by participants at Edgbaston Community Group, led by Artist Carolyn Morton.