Following the new exhibition at City Space, our Community Programmes Manager, Cat Cooke, answers questions about the arts-intervention programme Horizon 20:20 More and Better, her memories over the past five years of the programme, and what to expect in the future.
1. How did you first become involved with the Hampshire Cultural Trust (HCT) social impact programme? Can you tell us what makes the programme so different to other local outreach contemporary art programmes?
Cat: I started my role in May 2018, just at the end of the second year of Horizon 20:20. This programme uses arts and cultural activity to achieve a positive outcome for the most vulnerable young people across the county, many of whom have complicated behavioural, mental health and unique educational needs set against a background of social and economic disadvantage. Over the years, we have partnered with some fantastic teachers and professional artists to tailor creative experiences that can make the most impact. Sometimes, it’s an exciting trip to a theatre, at other times a printmaking session is better to build communication and relationships. Listening to young people and thinking about what they need is crucial.
2. What have been the highlights of the Horizon 20:20 programme in these last five years?
Cat: There are so many. I have been in the room with teachers and artists at a moment where a young person who hasn’t spoken for a year starts to talk because they need help from the artist. A young person who hasn’t attended school for months, beginning to come in regularly to work with artists, or just seeing the pride on young people’s faces when they see their work up in a gallery. These moments are a gateway for them to re-engage with education, see school as a positive place to be and for these young people to feel proud of themselves.
3. You are also part of a research team dedicated to studying arts intervention programmes in Alternative Education. Can you tell us more?
Cat: We have had independent researchers for over five years pulling data together and case studies to evidence the impact of long-term arts intervention on young people, Education Centres (Pupil Referral Units), and the broader arts and cultural sector across Hampshire. So much has been learned throughout this partnership; where the most impact has been and what long-term investment can achieve - we are keen to share this research early next year.
4. How can artists and teachers get involved with the programme?
Cat: We’d love to hear from groups in the alternative education or arts and cultural sector who want to support young people to access skills, so please get in touch.
Horizon 20:20 is just one of the many important social impact projects led by Hampshire Cultural Trust, with the strategic goal of improving wellbeing, health and happiness through cultural experiences. To find out more, visit our website.